We were delighted to welcome acclaimed British actor Charles Dance OBE to Benenden School on Friday evening.
A household name for more than 30 years, the renowned star of theatre, TV and cinema has enjoyed recent high-profile roles in hit series Game of Thrones and The Crown.
After enjoying dinner with the Drama Scholars, Mr Dance answered questions from the evening’s host, Benenden’s Director of Drama Fiona Lennon, and from pupils.
In the School Theatre packed with pupils, parents and staff, he addressed issues covering his career and inspirations and shared advice for budding actors.
Mr Dance said wannabe actors needed to be determined: “It’s not enough to want to do it, you have to need to do it.”
He also urged pupils to never give up in the face of the inevitable rejections that all young actors face. “Keep banging on the door,” he said. “It’s frustrating, it’s depressing, but life’s a funny thing because things kind of come in from leftfield when you least expect it.”
Mr Dance said that formal dramatic training was essential for success, adding: “You can have as much talent as you like but especially in the theatre, if you have no knowledge of technique to tell the audience what you are feeling and emoting, you might as well go home.”
He also said that reading widely was a good way of understanding characters, saying: “I was introduced to Dickens at a very young age. It was read to me. He created the most extraordinary array of characters and painted them in such vivid colours; all of Dickens’ characters are totally three-dimensional.”
Asked about Game of Thrones, Mr Dance said Peter Dinklage, who played his on-screen son, is “the most extraordinary actor and one of the nicest people you will ever meet”.
Afterwards, Mr Dance said of his experience at Benenden: “I enjoyed my ‘Evening at Benenden’ enormously – not least the company with whom I dined: what an impressive and delightful bunch they are! Mrs Price and her staff are, I hope, justly proud of the student body.”