Former Drama student stars in War Horse

Performing on stages around the world is all part of the day job for De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate Clive Keene, who is currently back in the city starring in the National Theatre’s acclaimed play War Horse at Curve Theatre.

Clive Keene, who studied Drama at DMU, portrays two characters in the much-loved stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, which tells the story of the deep bond between a teenage boy and his beloved horse during World War One.

War Horse at Curve (1)

Clive (32) – who plays villager John Greig and Sergeant Fine in the production – honed his skills during his time at university, between 2006 and 2009.

“It was one of the best decisions in my life coming to DMU,” he said. “The Drama course opened up so many new opportunities that I may not have got anywhere else and gave me an insight into alternative practices within the industry which I feel informed me as an actor.

“Because DMU is a creative university, you get to meet people who are interested in other areas which allows you to work on so many different projects and develop new skills.”

Clive – whose dad is originally from Leicester – secured his place at DMU after impressing course leaders during his audition.

War Horse at Curve (2)

“I was excited to study in Leicester so that I could build a better connection with my dad’s home city,” he explained. “I grew up in London but I’ve always been a big Leicester City fan so it was great being a student here, being able to go to all the home games.

“Aside from acting, LCFC is definitely my biggest passion.”

After graduating with First-Class Honours in 2009, Clive landed his first role on the very stage he is performing on with War Horse today.

“I did a community production at Curve after graduation, which came off the back of my connections at DMU,” he said. “The lecturers really encouraged us students to get involved in the city’s cultural world and I’m really glad I did.

“The experience of getting on that stage, being in the dressing room and working in a real theatre was invaluable – it gave me a taste of what it would be like to be a professional.”

Clive Keene

As that production came to an end, Clive decided to further his education and study a Master’s in Acting at ArtsEd in London.

“I actually found out I had got in to ArtsEd while I was waiting in the queue to see The Pillow Man at Curve,” he recalled. “Leicester definitely brings back a lot of good memories for me, I walk through the streets and I feel very nostalgic.”

Over the years, like most actors, Clive has experienced his fair share of successes and knockbacks.

“The hardest thing is the rejection you feel when you don’t get a part,” he said. “There are no guarantees in this industry but if you wake up and you really can’t imagine doing anything else you just have to keep going.”

As someone who used to get up in front of his classmates at school to do impressions of teachers, Clive knew from a young age he belonged on stage.

He said: “I remember when I was about 13, I did a duologue of Blood Brothers with my friend and he got marked 10/10 and I only got 9/10 – I was so annoyed!

“I knew then that I wanted to be good at performing.”

While the majority of Clive’s experience has been in theatre, he has also done a number of short films and even featured in the 2008 advert for DMU when he was a student.

One of his proudest achievements, however, is performing in the West End.

“I starred in a show called BU21 which started out in a small venue but got picked up and transferred to a theatre in the West End,” he said. “That was an incredible experience – every actor dreams of getting that opportunity.”

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War Horse, which is brought to life by magnificent puppetry, is currently on its UK-leg of a worldwide tour.

“We’ve been to Ireland, Hong Kong and New Zealand,” said Clive. “After Leicester we’re heading to Wembley and then we’ll be in Paris over Christmas. We’ve also just announced that we’ll be taking the show to Singapore next year.

“For me, I have to say that Leicester is definitely up there as one of the best audiences we’ve performed to. The opening night of War Horse at Curve was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It brought back so many memories of being here as a student, dreaming of one day being a professional, so walking out on the curtain call was quite something.”

War Horse is on at Curve until this Saturday 12 October. For showtimes and tickets visit:

Posted on Friday 11th October 2019

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