As I move on to another chapter in my educational life, I’ve been thinking to an increasing extent over the past few days about teachers and mentors who have exercised and wielded their powerful influence over me. And the worrying thing is, is that it’s not been very encouraging…
To begin with, the wise words of a Drama teacher I had in secondary school:
‘Stay in education as long as you can because when you leave, you will have to work…forever!’
Ok, so a little fatalistic but obviously something about that warning stuck, as many years later, I’m still avoiding the elusive world of work and the begetting of a ‘proper’ job.
A few years down the line we go, towards my A Level Theatre Studies lecturer. For the purposes of this blog, we shall call him Marvin*. Now, Marvin is what you’d typically expect from a Theatre lecturer; dynamic, unpredictable and suitably eccentric. At the time you do not question the mentor’s aptitude, their status as ‘teacher’ alone cements their authority. Maybe I should have taken heed of the signs:
I would slave away on essays written on a rainforest depleting amount of paper to receive them back months later with a solitary tick (perhaps Marvin was congratulating himself for successfully getting to the end) minus any other comments; In demonstrating character work, Marvin never failed to be… Marvin – we were duly informed that he once read for a company who never gave him any roles, due, quite patently, to their jealousy of his acting ability; A playwright, among his many other talents, Marvin’s plays had titles such as Leather Clad, Fetish Room and Sexual Female – all high brow experimental stuff I might add. And lastly, following Marvin in my car on the way to a London theatre, he kept his left side indicator on for the entirety of the four hour journey.
But I’m doing Marvin a disservice here. Thanks to Marvin I have an enduring love for Ibsen and Chekhov and Brecht will always be my main man. In two years with Marvin, there was never a dull moment and he also once told me that I’d make a great Titania, which is enough for me to like anyone in my books.
I’ll give you a sneak peek at the most recent, although I will be selective as I don’t want anything I write to be used against me at a later date. I call upon your powers of imagination in picturing this illustrative tableau:
Setting: Rehearsal Room 1
Scene: Where’s the Director?
Action: Director is to be seen at the side of the rehearsal room forehead against wall, in a pose that is expressive of the text ‘WHY?! WHY?!’
A curious lot aren’t they? It really is a miracle that I still have an interest in anything remotely theatrical. All I can say is that they must have done something right – perhaps, in true teacher-speak, it was all just a test.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual.