Friday, 7 December 2012

Visiting my past ...

Seeing my grand-daughter - nearest camera - in her school theatre
set me on a trail recalling my past
I was sent this lovely photograph by my younger son; of my grand-daughter, Lucy with two of her friends, in the lighting gallery of their school theatre. I remember being invited to a performance there last winter, and of seeing Lucy on stage in the magnificent spacious theatre with thrust stage and raked auditorium with seating on five sides. Many a professional company would appreciate facilities as good as this school has. And now Lucy has progressed to working the lighting deck with equipment the like of which I never experienced in my long-distant past. It set me reflecting on how dreams can become reality and how important to me in all that I do and have done has been what I learned 'in theatre'.

Age 7 and I was taken to a performance of Peter Pan at the Scala Theatre in wartime London (spent countless hours afterwards leaping off the bed hoping I could fly!) Age 9 and I appeared on the concert platform in Leeds Town Hall listening to the storyteller narrating Hansel & Gretel as my father conducted the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra in Humperdinck's opera. The magic had begun! I progressed to performing (Civic Theatre, Leeds), to writing and directing my own plays, and eventually to producing for the semi-professional Leeds Youth Theatre, age 16. To college in London to further a career in speech and drama, where unlike my fellow students, my interest turned to stage management. The lighting gallery high above the stage had a series of levers attached to a lighting bar; to change settings you ran up and down the gallery twisting or untwisting the levers to activate lights, dimmers etc. Very primitive. I became immersed - Shakespeare at The Old Vic, musicals and reviews, serious plays by upcoming playwrights; wonderful young actors and actresses who are now household names.  The mid-1950s were special and it didn't matter that I could only afford to watch from 'The Gods' in iconic London theatres. I was hooked but eventually decided that more important to me was to impart to young children a similar love of theatre and words and writing.

The influence on me of those young days has been enormous. It taught me perseverance, the importance of presentation (I still write my articles based on the principles of teaching a good lesson!) - and that there always has to be some element of 'make-believe' in all that I do; some magical quality that leaves one wanting more when the curtain falls. Seeing the photo of 14-year old  Lucy in her school theatre took me back. The past has become the present, and as for the future ....

No comments:

Post a Comment