It’s been a while I know, but we’re still here and also in Gauteng!

It’s been a while I know, but we’re still here and also in Gauteng!

The last two years have been an absolute world wind for me personally and for our school. Since our school in Cape Town has been so successful for quite a few years now, so we decided to take a bold leap forward, to open a second branch in Johannesburg. So after much planning and hard work,  We finally launched the Isabel Byers School of Speech and Drama in Gauteng! We are so excited to be offering our classes in this vibrant city and we are so grateful to all the schools and parents, who have given us the opportunity to teach and share our program with them.

So far our experience in Gauteng has been incredible. Its always daunting starting something new as you never know what the response will be.The parents, teachers and students have been so enthusiastic. Our teachers have been a dream to work with and I’m so thankful to everyone who has made this new branch possible. I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention two women who have made so much possible ; Heather MCcall our administrator and Venetia Herbst our manager in Johannesburg.

Cape Town is still going strong, thanks to the incomparable Jillian Chivell and our team there and we are so proud of the work we are doing in Johannesburg. The vision I had years ago, to make Drama accessible, affordable and empowering for as many children as possible is still very much alive and well ūüôā

Theatre Matters!

Theatre Matters!

Theatre is my absolute favourite thing. It is the thing which gets me more excited than anything. My second favourite thing in the world is to watch children watch theatre.

I will never forget the first time I saw a play. I must have been about¬†4 years old at the time and my mother had taken me to see a children’s show at Artscape. (the Nico Malan then)¬†I remember the sense of something wonderful taking place and I¬†knew I¬†had to be a part of it. A world that didn’t really exist¬†was being created before my eyes¬†and we the audience were transported there. Audience and actors were both in it together, regardless of age, gender or¬†culture.¬†In this moment in time¬†everyone was on the¬†same page, sharing the same experience¬†and¬†it was the most¬†beautiful thing ever. I discovered that this was called¬†theatre and I was hooked for life.

Theatre changed everything for me. The idea that you could make¬†something from nothing and¬†turn into something,¬†sent me into a tail spin. That you could create something from¬†your imagination¬†and then¬†present it and share it with others (and they were willing), was the purest form of¬†wonder and joy¬†to me. My heart skipped a beat. You see I had naturally being doing this at home in my bedroom for my teddy bears, but I had no idea what it was called or even that anyone else was doing it. I realised that there was a whole world of people out there, doing this and this was the best discovery ever¬†for my¬†four year old self.¬†I started Drama and performing the following¬†year and I’ve¬†never looked back.

There is something incredibly special and fleeting about live theatre. No two performances are exactly the same, so when something¬†is live you are seeing something which will never be repeated. There’s no rewind button or record button, so it forces you to be completely in the moment as the actor and the audience. A show brings so many¬†talents together, all¬†working together for a common¬†goal.¬†Theatre encapsulates so beautifully what it means to work as a team, even the audience is part of the team.

In no better way can we explore what it means to be human than in the theatre. It can encourage discussion and be a catalyst for change and there are no better examples than in the works of Athol Fugard, Barney Simon, Zakes Mda and Peter Dirk Uys during apartheid. It can give a voice to the voiceless and help connect people by higlighting where we are similar and show us that we are not alone.

Theatre made me¬†think that anything¬†was possible and that the world could be beautiful. In turn, it made think¬†that anything was possible for me, if I believed. It made me want to make¬†the¬†world¬†beautiful. It opened my mind and my heart and it taught me who I wanted to be. As some one once said ‘art is the place where you understand your whole life from.’

So why should we take children to the theatre? Here are 6 reasons!

  • First it does no harm
  • It expresses a basic human instinct of connection with others and exploration of ourselves.
  • Both the making of theatre and attending of theatre contribute to education and literacy. Watching the characters talk back and forth in the theatre is tricky; it requires sharp attention,¬†concentration,¬†quick mental shifts, and nimble language skills.
  • It teaches us about human motivation and psychology.
  • Theatre brings people together. In an age when most of our communication happens in front of a screen, I think that this gathering function of theatre is, in and of itself, something that matters.
  • It influences the way we think and feel about our own lives and encourages us to take a hard look at ourselves, our values, and our behavior.

Please take your kiddies to the theatre, if nothing else it will¬†make them dream ūüôā

A New Year

A New Year

We’ve settled in and we’re all getting¬†used to the new year! I love new year’s because they mean new beginnings. A reset button. While a new year may bring many¬†changes, some things never change, such as my¬†love¬†of Drama,children and a¬†strong desire¬†to help them grow,¬†overcome their personal¬†challenges and see them¬†thrive. This is what keeps me going when I or the school, faces it’s¬†own set of challenges.¬†We want to make a difference. We want out lives to mean something and we want to put our skills and abilities to good use.

We are all clear about one thing, that what we do¬†helps to improve the lives of children, which makes even the hardest day worth it. What we do isn’t about us, it’s something bigger than the sum of our parts. When you’ve dedicated your life to teaching, a job which comes with little reward and almost¬†zero ackowledgement, you have to love it, because otherwise you wouldn’t do it.¬†Working with children isn’t easy and any teacher would say that is¬†an¬†understatement. It takes an enormous amount of energy,¬†patience and dedication. You give so much of yourself each day and sometimes you have a little left for yourself and your own family. It really is a calling. When you’re a teacher, you’re not just a teacher. You’re¬†a nurse, a friend, a¬†psychologist, a parent. You wear so many hats all at the same time.¬†So why do we keep¬†doing it? Well I could say its seeing past students achieve beyond expectations and¬†knowing you¬†were a big reason for that. But really its those¬†little moments that¬†occur every now and then. Those bursts¬†of joy where you can see¬†you’ve made a¬†difference, however small. It’s what we live for, it’s why¬†our school exists.

So here we are again, ready to take it on and¬†rise to¬†the challenge. We are¬†energised and excited for what¬†the year may offer.¬†I look forward to those moments, those bursts of joy and seeing¬†the difference. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

The year so far…2016

The year so far…2016

This year has been full of surprises for all of us! Its been a definite whirlwind as we have had to adjust to so many changes, but change is good because it keeps you on your toes!

First of all Jillian Chivell who was our head teacher last year, officially became our school manager this year. She has done a stellar job as school manager and the transition while scary, has been relatively smooth. Jillian has shown herself to be extremely committed to ensuring our students get the most out of our program. She has also led the our staff and teachers with grace, compassion and strength. We have been very lucky indeed to have her steady hand at the helm this year.

We gained a few more schools this year, which is always exciting. New students, principals and parents to get to know¬†and¬†of course new challenges!¬†We couldn’t be more grateful¬†to those new schools for the opportunity!This year we¬†ushered in some new teachers and¬†we have been thrilled with their dedication and achievements this year. We also¬†saw the return of¬†a very familiar face, Miss¬†Moodley who has joined¬†the¬†team again¬†and we are¬†very happy to have her back! Lastly¬†we¬†launched a new website, which I think is much better than the previous version ūüôā

In the beginning of the year we introduced the¬†‘one pic a week’ campaign. We asked teachers to send a least one picture of one of their classes a week. We then¬†post these pics on Facebook to share with parents and friends of our page. We feel it is very¬†important for parents to see what their children are doing in Drama, which is why we decided to launch this new campaign. So far we have received a positive and enthusiastic response from all, so we will do our best to keep on¬†posting those pics!

In term 2 we started rehearsals for the Cape Town Drama Eisteddfod. This year we made the decision to set Saturday mornings aside for Eisteddfod practice, instead of practising during the week after Drama class. Students came to our offices in Rondebosch and practised with us for 10 weeks in term 2. We saw a huge difference from previous years. We found our students more refreshed on Saturday mornings than they were during the week after class. We found that issues such interruption from other students or teachers, when were rehearsing at the schools, were no longer obstacles. The end result was that out of the 10 students who entered, 6 received diploma and 4 received Honours Plus or Honours. We were all very proud indeed.

Now it is term 3 and we are gearing up for our end of year concert. I can’t believe it’s that time of year¬†again!!This year our theme is ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. The students seem very excited and we hope that thoroughly enjoy the rehearsal process, because that’s where all the fun and¬†learning happens. We can’t wait to see them on stage. Good luck everyone!

TERM 3- CONCERT PREP BEGINS!

TERM 3- CONCERT PREP BEGINS!

We are back! Its term 3 and that time of year again, where we start rehearsals for the end of year concert. It’s always exciting when you are working towards a performance. First script readings are done and dusted, students are cast and a buzz of anticipation surrounds every rehearsal. The words on the page come alive, students are transformed into characters and the world of make believe is created through direction and imagination. Continue reading

TERM 4: CONCERT SEASON!

TERM 4: CONCERT SEASON!

I cannot believe it is that time of year again, the much anticipated concert season!

This is what I personally look forward to the most. This is when I get to see all our students in action and rise to the challenge of performance.

Students put all we’ve taught them into practice and it’s their turn to shine.  I always feel a bit emotional when I see our students perform. As all teachers will understand it’s incredibly rewarding when all your hard work pays off.  All the rehearsals, energy and time feels so worth it and you know that you’ve made a difference, even if it’s not noticeable to the audience. Only you as the teacher really knows what it took to get to them to concert night. Continue reading

WHY ARE WE DIFFERENT? PART 1

WHY ARE WE DIFFERENT? PART 1

Why are we different? This question was brought to us very recently and it sparked a week long conversation between all of us in the office. In Cape Town there are numerous programs , schools, teachers and academies offering extra mural Drama. We are definitely not short of Drama teachers in this beautiful city of ours, yet we have grown exponentially more than most. Why? Continue reading