I am so sad!
Thursday evening would have been the final night of the Year 6 end of term/year/primary school performance for the children at Arbury Primary School.
Such is their commitment to the arts, and primary theatre in particular, that they pay me to direct a show each year along with one for the younger children at Easter and of course THE NATIVITY PLAY.
In times of cuts in education, and just about anything else that matters, this is (and I am going to use that word that until recently was hardly used at all but is now used every single day) unprecedented.
The reasons why they do this are sort of lost in the mists of time, or too personal and schmaltzy to bore you with, but oh my goodness it is special.
I can’t show you photos of past shows (cough-cough nothing to stop you looking on the school website) but, as we all know, there is a life-enhancing and sometimes life-changing thing about being part of a theatrical company and I think applies to amateurs as much as professionals and sometimes even schools.
This week I had cause to be in touch with my first Arbury leading man. I should keep his name out of this but we will call him Mark to save confusion. (Oops!)
My Romeo, and he is now 30. Please refrain from doing sums.
He was interviewed by someone from his old secondary school for the school magazine and was asked to name a teacher who had inspired him. Bless him he named me. That is of course flattering and sweet and kind and touching, but…
He is the reason that Corkscrew exists. He, as a slightly out-of-tune little boy, taught me that theatre is important and that storytelling is the heart of it. He said the that when he stepped on stage for the first performance he ‘felt he was home’.
And now he is a drama graduate and a primary school teacher who has persuaded his new school to hire a drama specialist to introduce drama explicitly into their curriculum. And in his last post started an annual drama festival for students with English as a second language. But then he was very bright (terrible handwriting though – still).
So Mark, right back atcha! You certainly gave as much as you got. And I apologise for that make-up, I knew no better.
There have been other Marks since then – a couple of them will be very familiar to Corkscrew followers but I won’t name Will or Sophie either. They pop up from time to time and you can always tell when the theatre fairy finds them. If I’m lucky I get to see them in big school shows and some stick around and some carry on in amateur shows and a few go to drama school and some just have a lot of fun.
I say all this at a time when we theatre folk have had our lives whipped away. No shows, no auditions, no rehearsals, not even the ability to plan ahead with certainty.
But on what would have been annual post-school-show-blues day I just wanted to say hold fast. We’ll get there because the fairy has got hold of us too.