Ben Fagan


Ben’s NYDS story started in 2006 when, as a small cherubic child, he was thrown headfirst into the stand-up comedy class. Since then he has passionately pursued storytelling in theatres, bars, buses, libraries, opera houses and lounges. Based in Wellington, he is a TEDx performer and organiser, Media & Philosophy graduate and an organiser of Poetry in Motion, the capital’s slam-poetry community. Most recently he has been touring New Zealand and the USA as a performance poet. Ben is also co-tutor of the Poetry in Performance class – new in 2016!


Ken Keys

Founding Member

Ken is the Director of HaByt (Hawkes Bay Youth Theatre), founder of NYDS, guest tutor at the Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute at the Shakespeare Globe Centre in London and at the International Theatre Festival in Maryland, USA. He is also the NYDS Sponsorship Coordinator, current tutor of the Acting Shakespeare class and is married to the wonderful Annetta, the ”hostess with the mostess”.


Rachael Blampied


Rachael is a former NYDS student and current tutor of one of the Screen Acting classes. Rachael completed a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec in 2006 and is an experienced screen actress. Perhaps most recognised for her role as Bree on ‘Shortland Street’, Rachael’s screen credits are many and include playing NZ’s incredible WWII spy Nancy Wake in the TV movie ‘Nancy Wake : The White Mouse’, also rugby TV movie ‘The Kick’ and recently filmed for American TV series ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’. Rachael studied music (voice and piano) for many years and has performed at Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park. She lives in Auckland where she works as an actress, voice artist and a TV and Film Producer – making commercials, music videos and films.


Glen Pickering


Glen is a graduate from Unitec with a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts, majoring in Acting. As an actor he has worked with leading theatre companies including Auckland’s Theatre Company, The Silo Theatre, Centrepoint Theatre and with many of New Zealand’s top directors. As a director Glen has directed over 20 productions. He was Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre Company from 2008 – 2011 and in 2012 won “Best Director” at the Short and Sweet play festival in Auckland. In recent years Glen has taken up management and leadership roles with New Zealand Opera and the Hawke’s Bay Opera House. He is currently the Festival Director of the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch.


Jess Soutar Barron


Jess Soutar Barron is a writer and project manager and avid collaborator on creative initiatives. She has a background working in corporate communications in the public and private sectors. Her particular skill is in translating between the creative sphere and the world of bureaucracy! Jess’ ‘first career’ was in television production and she holds a Bachelor of Communication Studies and a Master of Arts. Her board experience includes time on the Creative Hawke’s Bay board as well as sitting on school and daycare boards.