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To prepare or not to prepare?

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Charlie Walker-Wise answers the question.

As the parent of a young son, I’m getting ready for the first time I have to announce “do as I say, not as I do”. It’s a statement I’m not looking forward to but whether so explicitly stated or not, it’s a dictum every child experiences.

On reflection though, it’s not only said to children. In a conversation with a non-training colleague recently I was talking about how I don’t always prepare in the same way to coach participants on my courses. This might seem something of a shocking confession. “Cheat” I hear you say, but this is not necessarily true.

The training that my RADA in Business colleagues and I deliver is based on an experience. The training might be a transformative experience or journey (I started here and now I’m all the way over here), but the learning itself is something that is experienced. It is not simply considered, or pondered, or discussed; it can be seen, heard, felt and touched by both the learner and the other people in the room with them. This work is inhabited more in the body than it is in the mind. It’s a way of learning that traditional education ceases to employ beyond the age of about five years old.

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The Apprentice Final 2016

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We can finally talk about our role in coaching Courtney Wood, a finalist on The Apprentice 2016.

Courtney may not have won, but listening to him in defeat, and to everyone else who watched him develop throughout the series, you could be forgiven for thinking that his pitch represented an unmitigated victory. From Karen Brady to Rhod Gilbert of The Apprentice: You’re Hired, everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of disbelieving relief that his presentation had gone so well.

Courtney came to RADA in Business the day before his pitch for a crash pitching course. The techniques used became the dominating topic of You’re Hired, with everyone noting the extraordinary transformation. Even Karen, in the final scenes in the boardroom, complimented Courtney on how well the pitch had gone. Everyone agreed that it made a huge difference. Courtney himself said that he felt he was on safer ground talking about his own brand which he lives and breathes everyday, but that being pushed outside his comfort zone before he pitched was a great help.

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Presenting without Props

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Charlie Walker-Wise, Business Development Manager, RADA in Business

empty chair on stage

I’ve been reflecting on the experience for non-theatre professionals when they come to work with us at RADA. Over the last couple of months we’ve had major events here with large numbers of people from media agencies, banks, consultancies, government and retail brands.

At the beginning of these experiences I pose them a question: What do they see when they look around their office? What are the tools they use to do their job? Invariably the answer is “phone”, “computer”, “desk”. Then I ask them what they see here at RADA as I stand in front of them. The answer is “nothing”, just an empty space. This space is the actor’s “office” and the tools used are the body and the voice. Actors at RADA spend three years learning how to use these tools incredibly effectively but these skills are not the preserve of the actor. They are not rarefied, or sacred; they are universal human skills and, with a little guidance, can be honed to improve credibility and confidence.

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The Power of Play

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Charlie Walker-Wise, Business Development Manager, RADA in Business

Lego: The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, Damianen Hirst

I have a theory. It goes something like this: first we celebrate play in children, then we indulge it, then we tolerate it, and then we squash it.

When a baby becomes a toddler and begins to interact with their environment we are thrilled and encourage its experimentation through play. As toddlers become children we accept the games they play, the make-believe worlds they create, understanding that these are important for them to make sense of the world around them.

But at about the age of 7 or 8 we change the language we use with children. We start to say things like 'grow up' and 'stop behaving like a child' and 'act your age'. The absurdity of making these statements to a child looks stark out of context, doesn’t it? But when flung out in frustration, how much thought is given to the damaging language and its effect? Suddenly investigation through experience becomes a bad thing. We risk shaming children for their curiosity and experimentation.

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