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Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Sage Academy of Performing Arts - Memories

I often used to be baffled as to why an earth anybody would want to ‘blog’. I mean, what is the point in writing down all the little things that have happened to you in a day or a week or whatever. In recent years however, I have noticed how significant writing down ones thoughts can be. It is cathartic, it orders your thoughts, allows space in your mind for the next emotional or intellectual challenge you have yet to encounter and it is fun to look back on your memories.

Since teaching in Newcastle at Sage, I have found that those students who took the time to reflect on the training and workshops they had been involved in that day appeared to be more centred and well balanced in their understanding of their vocation. I found myself discussing their progress and using that open forum of discussion to inform my own practice, not just at a tutor, but artistically as well. The process was exciting and stimulating and it allowed my connection to many of my students to transcend the normal teacher-student pedagogical relationship to something far more profound. On leaving the Academy a few weeks ago, I felt a real sense of respect for my learners, some of whom are now cherished friends and people who I am certain shall remain so for many years to come. I cannot stress enough how lucky I feel to have been given the opportunity by Lucy Sage, who, informed by my long term mentor Adam Armstrong, gave me the space, time and trust to run with my ideas and it is safe to say, some of what my students achieved in my five years there is of the highest possible standard. I would like to spend this blog paying homage to The Sage Academy of Performing Arts – from my perspective.

Back in 2005, Lucy invited me to join an already established and experienced team of staff who were producing accomplished performers year after year. I was fortunate to be offered the role; such are the benefits of knowing someone who knows someone in this industry. I can remember my first day with the full-time students. My first class was with the then 2nd year students, who, amongst others, included a certain Alana Wallace, who would later appear in my first self produced and directed Edinburgh Fringe debut ‘Skitzy’ in 2007.

In my time there, many students have impressed me, some of whom have left me completely speechless with their acting ability. Young performers who act with such maturity and intelligence, one is left wandering what more can be done, expect do nudge them in the right direction and hope that the right people see them at the right time. It has worked for some inspired young people. The likes of Maddie Bowden, Kate Soulsby, Phil Bollam, Alex Jarvis, Laura MacGrady, Maeve O’Sullivan and Katie Todd are all people that I take a great pride in having taught on the full time course.

Then there are the part timers, the Foundation group, the Saturday and Sunday classes and more recently my evening workshop group, who range in age from 13 to 22, which makes for an extremely eclectic life experience pool, let alone performance experience. Some of my students have progressed to a stage where they are able to employ me as a performer for their own professional work, something which fills me with so much pride. To think that I might have played some part in their professional development. Scott Ampleford and Caden Elliott to name but two.

I would like to spend time naming all those students and tutors who have collectively touched my life during my time in Newcastle, but it would take a long time, and they know who they are – In particular I would just like to thank Jess Tibble, Amy Douglass and Rosie Marriott for playing such a huge part in my goodbye parties - Thank you for the great send-off gifts including the file of thank you messages, the framed photos, the cakes, the other food, the evening at the all-you-can eat buffet, the award for ‘Most inspirational’.

The most difficult thing I have ever had to do professionally was to make the decision to leave them behind. Let me just say this; everyone at the Sage Academy, past and present – you will always be with me!

1 comment:

  1. You will be missed unreal amounts at Sage.
    You've left pretty big shoes to fill!
    We will all be thinking about you on your wedding day and wish you all the luck in the world!

    You have created some amazing memories for those at Sage, so when the time comes that I move on, i'll have :
    - 'A note from the director' thats something that no-one will ever forget!
    - The time that me and amy were working on a Saturday and instead of looking after the kids, the three of us went onto the balcony to play on the exercise balls. You decided to go first and smacked your head off the treadmill. Amy was next and have to say was most impressed by my balance when she stayed floating on the ball. I was last and failed miserably! I smacked my face off the ball because I missed the whole run-up.

    and many more!

    All my love dude<3