King Lear Cast Bio | Will

With the company now in rehearsals, we interview the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School actors cast to play alongside theatre professionals, Timothy West, Stephanie Cole and David Hargreaves in King Lear.

Here we get to know Will, one of the Theatre School’s talented rising stars.


KELLY Will.jpg

Will Kelly
Kent / Understudy Lear

BOVTS: Boatswain in The Tempest (Redgrave Theatre); Lyle Jones in The Madame Macadam Travelling Theatre (Bristol Old Vic Studio); Arthur Phillip in Our Country’s Good, Major Pollock in Separate Tables, Dima in Ladybird, Pinchwife in The Country Wife, Oliver in As You Like It. Pre BOVTS: Phil in The Shape of Things, Brother in Pornography, Max in The Homecoming, Satan in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Dimitri Mitropolous in Posh, Kev in Mammals (all with Warwick University Drama Society); Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons (Whole Hog Theatre); Jay in The Babysitter (NSDF, Edinburgh Fringe Festival).

Where are you from and how did you get into acting?
I’m from a little town called Haslemere, in Surrey, and I first got into acting when I played Macbeth in our Year 8 school production. The setting for the production was feudal Japan, which meant I was allowed to walk around in armour and duel Macduff with samurai swords – an absolute dream for thirteen-year-old me.

Who are you playing and what challenges have you faced in that role?
I’m playing Kent, who is supremely loyal to the King, so much so that he returns to Lear after he is banished at the risk of being executed, in order to serve him and ultimately keep him safe. One of the challenges in this process has been to find the reason for that absolute loyalty, even when Lear says and does some fairly terrible things. Understudying for Lear as well has also been a challenge, purely in finding time to learn all the lines!

What’s your favourite thing about training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School?
It sounds cliché but the school really is like a family. Being so small, everyone knows one another, and it just creates such a comfortable, nurturing environment. The level of support the students have for one another is huge. One of my favourite moments this year was watching the music and dance projects by the 1st year acting students at the end of their first term– it’s sort of a rite of passage, to get up in front of the rest of the school in your tights and leotards and do a song and dance. It’s amazing to see a new bunch of talented people start their journey, and to support them (as we all know how nerve wracking it was when we did it in first year) by cheering as loudly as possible!

How does it feel to be taking the Bristol Old Vic Stage in your graduating show?
It feels amazing. I began my graduating year at Bristol Old Vic in the Studio and hoped I would be able to perform on the main stage before I left. I didn’t think it would actually happen, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be working with such a fantastic director as Tom and such experienced actors as Tim, Steph and David. It has been such a brilliant learning experience, and I can’t imagine a better way to finish my graduating year.


King Lear continues our 250th Anniversary Season in our Theatre 18 Jun-10 Jul. To find out more about the show and to book your tickets, click here.

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