Ian Kellgren

A short biography

Ian read law at LSE, the London School of Economics, before training as an actor at LAMDA.

Ian began directing as an assistant director at the Royal Court Theatre in London, rising to Literary Manager, before becoming Artistic Director of Durham Theatre Company.  He was the longest serving Artistic Director of the Liverpool Playhouse, where his work included The Ruling Class, Beryl Bainbridge’s An Awfully Big Adventure and a number of musicals such as Chicago, Gypsy, Camelot and Imagine, which he co-wrote. He has directed over eighty productions and received a number of regional awards including Director of the Year and two of his productions were nominated for Olivier Awards. 

As a media consultant he worked on establishing neighbourhood television services, including an eighteen-month pilot in Knowsley, partly funded by the UK Government.

Included in his work as an arts consultant, he was asked to research and propose reforms that could revitalise the National Council for Drama Training , especially its accreditation system, and to oversee their implementation; and then to spearhead strategic developments. He acted as NCDT Executive for the year to June 2007.

He has been involved in DVD production; consultancy on presentation training and design; and general arts consultancy, including writing a successful bid for the Global Bangermann Challenge. 

He was a member of the Warwick University team evaluating the Dance and Drama Awards in 2009. with special responsibility for ‘industrial intelligence’. He co- wrote ‘Access All Areas: Deaf, Disabled and Working’ - A discussion document for the dance and drama training sector; and conducted a study into industry expectations and how far young actors are failing to satisfy them has led to piloting new style media training and exploring adjustments of timetable. 

He has produced various projects including: using film to increase understanding between generations in minority communities; devising health awareness dramas; providing creative workshops in bail hostels (residencies for those awaiting trial, released from prison or as a requirement of a criminal sentence); Shakespearian productions with 10 and 11 year old actors from deprived areas; and a dance based celebration for a youth club’s centenary.

Ian has run hundreds of workshops in acting, writing, directing and voice for professional actors, singers and dancers, and amateurs; devised and ran a directing module at LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts); and wrote and delivered a presentation skills course for business people. As well as being a script reader for the Royal Shakespeare Company, London’s Royal Court and the Royal National Theatre, he has been Drama Adviser and panel member for Arts Council of England and regional arts body; Steering Group member for ‘Drama, Theatre and Young People – A Manifesto’ 

He has been a professional and voluntary Chair: including the governing body of a primary school, local residents association and quality assurance panel visits. He was Chair of The Television Workshop 2008 -2016. He has been a member of numerous interview panels and a university validation team member for Birmingham City University, Liverpool John Moore’s University, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of East London and the University of Surrey; and a specialist inspector For Ofsted, the body that inspects UK schools. He is a governor of LIPA sixth form college.

Ian returned to NCDT as its Director in December 2010, with a brief to focus on the accreditation and advocacy needed in light of funding cuts. This led to the merger of NCDT with the Conference of Drama Schools into Drama UK, which existed from 2012 -2016.  This was a balance of the major UK providers of vocational drama training and the stage and screen industries. These industries decided to develop their own systems of assessing drama training and so Drama UK was wound up. Ian was Chief Executive throughout. 

He spearheaded Drama UK’s exploration of training and certification for young people in China. This led to the creation of the company ‘UKCI’ and long-term arrangements with China’s top university for education, Beijing Normal University, and the establishment of a certification board. 

Ian is Honorary Headmaster of Jingshi Drama School and has been appointed as a foreign expert in international training programmes for the Beijing Institute of Education and guest professor at Shanghai Institute for Visual Arts. He is now President of UKCI and has produced the UKCI shows performed by Chinese young people with top production values in large theatres. ‘Silk…the Eternal Road’, a new musical about both the ancient silk road and the new silk road, which he wrote the script for and directed, was an autumn 2017 success in Beijing and was seen in February 2018 in Barcelona and Madrid.