One of my students wants to base her character on her crazy aunt; she didn't say it was her own aunt, she said she wanted to play the part of "a crazy aunt who always slips money to you at family occasions and gets emotional after drinking too much wine.It's based on a true story." So I'm wildly guessing that the aunt is a real person. The other girls felt similarly familiar with this kind of character. I made a mental note to be more aware. I have nieces and nephews. I'm no fool. And I drink wine. Slipping money to them, not so much - but getting emotional, well perhaps. Depending on the family occasion and how early in the day dinner starts. Dinner can start at 3pm. It's a difficult one, when everyone else sips a casual beer or two. I'm allergic to wheat and gluten - I cannot be drinking a beer even casually. I can only do wine. Two glasses of Pinot Grigio at 3 in the afternoon and anyone becomes the crazy money wielding aunt.
So I have to come up with a story about a crazy wine drinking emotional but generous woman who babysits her teenage nieces and nephews, and not get embroiled into my own life story. Please imagine a literary pause here, a long one. It is in fact a long tired sigh. I'm tired at myself. Why oh why do I say I'll do these things? I am a victim of my own untiring enthusiasm. And to say that my untiring enthusiasm exhausts me is not a contradiction. At the time, it always seems like a good idea to write a brand new play for my students. I adore creative endeavour. It keeps me breathing steadily.
A creative human is a happy human. Why else do people hum to themselves when they're scribbling in those mindful colouring books? Creative people live longer and get away with murder. (For the most part; I've just thought 'Vincent Van Gogh' but he had other things going on). Do you resent time spent doing something creative? I doubt it. What's more, if you do something creative, do you spend time admiring your work and feeling all warm inside? You know you do. When you're being creative, do you ever think, 'I shouldn't be doing this, I should be hoovering'?
What happens to us when we paint or write, play the piano or arrange flowers? I believe we feel the joy because we are truly alone with ourselves; we go deep down to the purest part of us, with ease. When I'm being creative, it's just me and the page or the keyboard or the music or the flowers or the shape of the thing I've just made. And I have spent a lifetime inspiring creativity (so I should live long and prosper) I love to see my teachers get excited about the term ahead (this is occurring presently, there is a palpable buzz around Frangos in Dundrum Towncentre, hub of our meetings). When I see our students get together and animatedly discuss how they will approach some new challenge, I notice some wonderful things: everyone's face is open and interested; I see the moment a brilliant idea lands in their minds; there's laughter, excitement - one idea leads to another idea. A room full of people with eyes engaged on their vision. There is no room for negativity. Obstacles are just another chance to be creative; opportunities for the group to gather all their notions and sew them together.
I love this part of my life. I love that I can never predict what's going to happen in a class (unless we're rehearsing for a play and lines haven't been learnt - then I can predict with great accuracy that I'm going to get cranky - I'm looking at you, Youth Theatre) Even when there are rules to be followed, we still bring our own unique style to a production.
Personally, being a creative teacher has been a gift - I have had to relinquish control. Once upon a time, my way was the best way, but one day I decided to say "I don't know, what do you think?"And I learned that my way is only one way. There are countless ways and they are all beautiful.
People who think they're not creative? Desist! You go shopping for shoes you're not sure even exist, except in your mind. You crack a joke. When you see a flower in full bloom and time slows down for you. When you allow yourself to be lost in the sound of your child laughing. When you smile because that's your favourite song. Or your mum's favourite song. When you laugh at a joke. When you admire someone's eyebrows (it's a thing). When you read. When you anticipate the next chapter.
Thoughts that are creative make you feel good. And if you feel good, you emit positivity. And you draw others into your state of mind, and so you start a flowing chain of good feeling all around you. You create comradery, positivity, kindness, patience, understanding, tolerance, guidance, appreciation, acceptance and joy. And perhaps a picture or a song.
You create. You Rock.
HOW TO FEEL MORE CONFIDENT #1
If we don’t feel confident, it’s because we’re concerning ourselves with how other people see us. Does that matter? Should it matter? And what can we do to fix the discomfort of feeling that way? Of course there are measures that can be taken and over time confidence can build up, but what about in the moment? Is there a quick fix to feeling inferior?
Remind yourself that most people are good people. When my children were small and coping with developing friendships I tried to whittle my advice down to its most basic form, a mantra if you will: “Be nice to everyone and everything will be alright.” If you’re nice to someone, there’s a very big chance they’re going to be nice back. If they’re not, the issue isn’t with you and they need to learn some manners. Don’t be choosy in your niceness; be nice to everyone. Don’t, however, be a pushover or a doormat. Being nice doesn’t mean allow people to take advantage of you. Give a compliment; look people in the eye; smile. Expect them to be nice back. You can’t read their minds, so stop presuming what they’re thinking. They could have any stressful thing going on in that moment and you might just put them in a better mood. Being nice to everyone covers you for all eventualities; it’s likely that everyone will be nice back and then everything really will be alright.
Make it a mantra and you’ll never forget it. Change the words if you like, but keep the sentiment the same. Believe it. Know it’s true and feel the change in your attitude in that moment. Immediately feel more confident. Simplicity is the key; My children heard it every morning as they headed off to school, and, I hope, it has stuck. My friend, on the other hand, used to shout to her son: “Don’t pick your nose and keep your hand out of your trousers!” Whatever works.
"Awed by her Splendor
stars near the lovely
moon cover their own
is roundest and lights
earth with her silver"
2015 officially marks the EH School's Silver Anniversary!
This September, the image of my first student, Ruth Golden and I looking at each other across my mother's dining room in Kilmacud, will be twenty five years old. The desire to teach was new and exciting, and as that first class filled up, and the school began to grow, I realised the benefit each new personality could bring to the group, and that drama, in its purest sense, has very little to do with being in the spotlight. Those first students help me to find my ethos as I watched them develop and blossom, and I very quickly got over the fact that they didn't particularly want to be actors, but could draw from the lessons, that which they needed - confidence in that moment or honing a future ability for a life that might never include the stage. Many students have come and gone over the past twenty five years, and they have continued to teach me, so that I too could have the confidence to recognize what I want the school to be. I have now, and always have had a super team too, in the form of youth theatre students gaining teaching experience and former pupils become right-hand men and women to me; teaching, organizing, helping out in any way - just to be creative, and to watch the magical transformation as a child finds their creative way. It has been simple to find these team members, because they have always come from the school - they came to me, and I like to surround myself with brilliant people. Like Sappho's silver moon, shining on everything, I like to think of us, not as individual stars, but one big round beautiful unit, tinged with a little silver perhaps, after twenty five years.
Feeling grateful :)
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before…”
From ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe.
Some people hate Halloween, but I love it. For one thing, we take a long mid-term break (two weeks) so we can recharge the batteries before Christmas. Being a drama teacher, I also enjoy dressing up, decorating the house and scaring the heebyjeebies out of people! That’s the plan for Halloween Camp this year, where we’ll be doing the usual dramatic activities, games and art work (mask and poster making) plus we’ll be recording a scary radio play for fun! Text or email Emer today to enroll – it’s filling up fast.
Mid term break - No classes on:
Sat 25th October and Sat 1st November & Tuesday 28th October and Tuesday 4th November
Tuesday 28th Wednesday 29th Thursday 30th October (3 days)
Time: 9.30am to 1.30pm (drop off any time after 9am)
Location: St. Laurence’s Parish Centre, Stillorgan
Fee: €60 per child.