By Amanda Wewer |
“I remember as a kid playing school quite a lot, taking register and my sister had to do the names for all the different people in the class saying that they were here. I’ve always loved reading from a very, very young age. So, teaching is a job where I get to talk about my favorite topic and get paid for it. I wanted to go to drama school and be an actor but I didn’t really get the support from my parents or financially to do that. I run the drama club and I do acting outside of school on my own time and I love to cook and travel. I did drama as my minor when I was doing my degree. I had been acting a lot since a young age, probably seven or eight. I think the first one I did was when I was in the Sailor’s Return. I was the Sailor. Between my university years I went and did camp in America. I taught drama there and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a teacher for sure.
I’ve always taught English and Drama. Initially I liked acting, but as I got older I prefer directing. You have more artistic control. You design the costumes and set and you put the whole thing together. It’s my favorite part of the day, being with the kids. Drama kids are a certain breed and I like hanging out with those kids. When you put on a play you put in about a hundred hours of work and you create this thing and it’s kind of like having a baby. Then, the baby’s born when you put on the play and then the play is over and the baby gets taken away. It’s a weird metaphor but it is like you give birth to something: the idea of things taking a long time to prepare and get ready, and then there’s this big occasion when it happens. The play is over and you create and make something together and you can’t repeat that experience. Seeing students have that experience is really a nice thing for me to experience as well. I think theatre is an art form like music and art, as a form of expression, and it is incredibly powerful.
I’ve done about a hundred plays, well probably more than that now. There were some that were more painful than others, but they have all been rewarding. I think, Our Country’s Good is the one that I find the most profound because it’s about how theatre can change lives. It’s set in Australia with the convicts that were sent there and they put on a play, and instead of being criminals they become artists, actors, and they find that there is this redemptive quality about it, that they can be whoever they want to be and so it liberates them.
The best play I’ve been in was probably Oliver. I played Fagin when I was seventeen and that really when I got the bug, I think. My parents think that was my best. When I was fifteen we did A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Lysander, and my drama teacher took us to America and we toured all of New England and stayed with families and put on our play in their community theatres and schools. That really changed my life. It’s probably the one that I remember still the most. I was devastated when it was all over because it was such a fantastic trip. I think that’s what made me want to move here and live here in the US.
I’ve been very lucky as a teacher. I’ve done a lot of workshops and things that I wouldn’t have been able to do as a professional actor. I’ve done a lot of work at the Globe in London. I’ve done a lot of work at the National Theatre in London as well. There’s something very magical about a theatre space for me, especially an empty one. You go in and there’s memories there, hanging in the air. There’s history and, I don’t know how to explain it, but even here in our cafeteria theatre memories, experiences have happened there and they linger. Just walking a space where other people have trod and done performances is something magical.
I like doing Shakespeare, so Twelfth Night we did in Pirates of the Carribean style. I was disappointed with numbers; I found that frustrating. I think that every student should be there because they all study Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing. We take them to Stratford to see a play every year. Here you’ve got a Shakespeare comedy on your doorstep with your friends in it, so I was disappointed with the attendance. But I thought that the kids did a fantastic job. It’s really difficult to do Shakespeare well, especially when you’re young. I was really proud of the quality of performance. We’re doing a piece of dinner theatre, a one act play, in May. We’re going to do a comedy. It’s about a director that has a mental breakdown because all the backstage crew are useless and everything goes wrong.