title
 
 
 

News

About Patrick

-
Concert Music
-
Other Music
-
Music for Children
 
Commissioned work
 

Extras

 

patrick jonathan
______________________________________________Composer_______

 

 

 

Articles

These articles were written for the magazine "Living Arts Malaysia"

Childsplay
from
Living Arts Malaysia

During the time that Patrick was running ‘In the Spotlight’ and ‘Centrestage’, the kids and teen music theatre programmes for the Actors Studio Academy in KL, he was also penning an occasional column for the magazine, Living Arts Malaysia, under the heading, Childsplay. These articles - 15 altogether – are collected together here.

•••••••••••••••••(1)••••••••••••••••••

“Stand there… wear this… hold this… say this… NOW… LOUDER… kneel down… over there… shhhh… wait for the cassette to start… DON’T WAVE AT THE AUDIENCE!”

Ah, the magic of the expressive arts! You don’t think so? Well, that’s a question I had to ask myself. Having spent many years working as a Performing Arts specialist in Primary Education it seemed to me that for most children the idea of acting, performing and going on stage conjured up mental images not unlike the opening paragraph. Where is the art; the expressivity; the performance? Where is the achievement? What skills are being nurtured and developed?

The questions became deeper, and more fundamental: Why do we include the Performing Arts on the curriculum? When we put children on a stage for whose benefit are we doing it?

Often Performing Arts are seen as a break from ‘important’ subjects. A chance for the children to be kept busy while the ‘proper’ teachers have a break, a cup of tea, or mark some ‘real’ work. The emphasis for school performances is often on how the teachers look, and what the parents will get out of it.

I’m a strong believer in an opposite point of view: that through the Performing Arts children will learn skills and concepts, and develop attitudes and a self-image that can prove invaluable to their development as a human being. Performing Arts should be for the benefit of the children who are participating.

How can this be achieved? Well, suffice it to say it cannot be explained within the length of this column, but it is a theme to which I will return, and on which I will expand.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(2)••••••••••••••••••

“Life is not a rehearsal,” as the saying goes. This may be true, but the Performing Arts are generally built upon rehearsals. If we allow these two ideas to meet, it becomes clear that a well-planned, sensitive Performing Arts curriculum can encourage children, in a safe, supportive environment, to explore situations, actions and emotions that they are likely to encounter in ‘real life’.

A good Performing Arts programme may allow children the chance to ‘rehearse for real life’.

How does this work then?

I have despaired, in the past (publicly, on many occasions), that too much emphasis is placed on coaching children as to what they have to say and do when they are on stage. This lends many children’s productions the quality of a pageant, or costume and props parade.

I believe that a successful Performing Arts programme for children will be largely based upon structured improvisation. By establishing clear rules, giving them insights into techniques, attitudes, and behaviour boundaries, it is possible to put the children into situations of conflict or to prescribe them different outlooks, temperaments and characters or even to place them in positions where their body language and even the manner in which their bodies relate to each other are ‘readable’ and expandable into a realised relationship or situation. Once these situations are established they quickly become confident enough to draw honestly on their own experience, observations, and attitudes, and use their own words and actions to develop a dramatic (or comedic) scene.

Gentle, constructive support and criticism from their peers and a sensitive programme leader can give them valuable insight into not just performance practice, but social skills, moral values, linguistic use, and any number of ‘real life’ skills.

A good Performing Arts programme will allow children the chance to ‘rehearse for real life’!

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(3)••••••••••••••••••

While I am no spring chicken (more like a spring bear, I hear you cry: rumpled, grumpy and hungry after a long winter’s hibernation) I am not yet,I hope, a relic from a bygone age. I am, however, old enough to recall from my own childhood my elders opining that “children should be seen and not heard”.

What rot!

I have spent the largest part of the last three years at home, raising our third child. Some of my male friends regard me as mad or sad or both, and have asked me how I endure the hours without adult company. Their jaws drop when I insist that there is nothing to endure; that my son is riveting, entertaining company. That we have insightful discussions about a range of topics that are wider than those I have with many of my adult friends. (I will confess, though, that in the last few weeks my sons conversational contributions often fall into two categories: those that begin with, “Why…?”, and those that conclude with, “… Isn’t that right, Dad?”)

Language is a crucial tool for unlocking the mysteries of this amazing world in which we live. It is the ‘computer code’ that enables our brains to theorize, philosophize, model and question.

In the Performing Arts programmes that I plan and lead, all children are encouraged to question, comment, and generally express themselves. Precise language often being employed. Why should we use a simple, approximate word to talk down to children when a precise word exists? Use the correct word, and teach them what it means, I say.

Should you believe that I overstate my case in insisting that children should be listened to, let me set your mind abuzz by quoting a child I taught about ten years ago:

“Mr. Jonathan, who made God?” Answers on a postcard…
Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(4)••••••••••••••••••

Kids never cease to amaze me. And I think I can assert, with some confidence, that kids never will cease to amaze me. How can I be so sure? Because kids are amazing.

How so?

Kids always rise to a challenge. I have been involved in dozens of productions during my teaching career, and never once have I been let down by the kids involved. Sometimes they cut it fine. Sometimes the final dress rehearsal can make you question why you didn’t opt for a safer, more sedate, profession - like a riot-policeman, or shark-baiter! However, cometh the hour, cometh the kids, and in front of an audience they are always lifted to great heights of conscientiousness and concentration.

It never ceases to amaze me, yet if, as I contend, it consistently happens, why should I be amazed. Isn’t this what I should expect?

Maybe it’s a societal thing. We tend to underestimate kids. Because they are small, and inexperienced in life, we tend to undervalue their intelligence, sensitivity and bravery. As we often expect the worst, we are delighted by the okay. But kids are better than okay: they are, I repeat, amazing.

Walk into a room of kids and say, “Who would like to…?” and see how many arms go up, even though they don’t know what it is that is on offer. Some adults see this as stupidity. I see it as bravery. It doesn’t matter what it is, these kids would like to, because they want to experience anything and everything.

Try the same thing in a room full of adults!

Some people have accused me of being immature. I take it as a compliment. Creativity in the arts is, I believe, inextricably linked to the ability not to grow up. In order to be a creative individual you need to want to put your hand up even when you’re not sure what’s on offer, because you want to experience anything and everything.

Send your kids to Performing Arts programmes through their teen years too, and help to keep the child in them alive. Maybe then the world will be a better, more exciting place for them, and for the people around them.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(5)••••••••••••••••••

When she asked me to write this column, Faridah asked if I could write about how I first became involved with the Actors Studio. I sat and tried and, at first came up blank. It seems that I’m much more interested in the here-and-now and the future than in the past.

No, perhaps that needs qualifying. I am often very nostalgic, and can appear to wallow in the past, both of my own life and the world in general. I think that it is harder to look back at the beginnings of my association with this fine organisation because to me it is not something that has yet been consigned to the past. It is part of the adventure on which I’m still engaged.

There have been many different, deeply contrasting periods of my life: strangers regard it as exciting; my family and friends as aimless! So I have a tendency to compartmentalize: to take a completed experience, box it up, and unwrap it anecdotally to amuse company. I’m not ready, yet, to do that with the Actors Studio.

I will, however, just offer a few incidents and facts that will help to explain why I so love my involvement here.

When I first gave up my full-time employment to look after my son, I was approached by Ronnie Sandall, who had worked on some projects with me at school, about working together on a short project, leading up to a show on the stage of the, then, newly opened theatre in Bangsar. We went through a number of shows I’d written and came upon one that could be adapted to a Malaysian theme. Thus, Generation 20/20, was created.

Ronnie liaised with the Actors Studio, and so the first time I met Faridah was after we had been preparing for a week, and were performing extracts to the press, and the first time I met Joe was when I walked out of the auditorium after the performance.

We often hear of famous last words, but seldom famous first words (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume”). I would like to quote the first words that this amazing couple said to me:

Faridah: “You seem to have a wonderful way of working with the children.” Joe: “Great songs!”

Never has their faith or encouragement dipped from these heights.

Thanks Faridah and Joe. May the Actors Studio go from strength to strength.

Patrick Jonathan


•••••••••••••••••(6)••••••••••••••••••

Patrick, what do you do for a living? That’s a tricky question, as I do a number of things: all of them for pleasure, although some contribute towards some sort of living! For the Actors Studio, I am a Performing Arts teacher, and this was also the title of my last full-time paying job.

For me, the problematic word is ‘Performing’. Not, however, because I have a problem with performing, or preparing a group of children - or adults -to perform before an audience: just generally ask around K.L. and you’ll come across hundreds of people who have attended shows I’ve written, directed, or played the piano for.

No, the problem is that the word seems so goal orientated, as if the whole point of this type of programme of study is to mount a performance. Yet, as any of you who have read my earlier articles will realise, I perceive the whole as a continuum of process and product and, I confess, regard the process as being more important than the product.

Let me qualify that statement. Clearly, in this business, rehearsal is not more important than performance. However, I lead classes and workshops for the Actors Studio, I do not ‘direct’ shows. If you are wondering whether it would be profitable to send your children to one of my classes, you should understand that I do not view each participant as a potential stage and screen performer, but, rather, that I attempt to provide them with experiences that will lead them to be more articulate, sensitive, imaginative and confident individuals.

Wow, perhaps I’ve undermined my argument. If I manage, during my career, to play a part in developing just one adult individual with the characteristics outlined above, then that’s quite a product.

Oh yes, but hopefully what they become is not just a performance!

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(7)••••••••••••••••••

The other day I introduced myself to someone and they said, “Oh yes, you’re the acting teacher.” I was taken aback, I’ve thought a lot of things of myself (some people consider I think far too much of myself!) but this has never been one of the things I’ve thought.

Far more often I’ve been described as a music teacher, because this I have done (but please don’t send your kids to me for piano lessons - I don’t do that). And, working with children, physical expression - i.e. dance - has always been an intrinsic part of that job. Fortunately, as a former pupil of a stage school in London I have had extensive training in tap, ballet and modern dance: skills that considerable weight and depth to a supposed music teacher’s C.V.

No, what I love about my work for the Actors Studio is that it is in the area of music theatre. This is a special branch of show business in which song, dance and acting are all vital and for which my life-experience seems specifically to have prepared me for.

This is fantastic, as it means I can devote meaningful time to each of these areas. It is also fantastic for the kids who attend my classes, as there is always an element in which they feel they can contribute; an area in which they feel at ease and confident. It also means that each of my sessions is fast-moving and dynamic: how else could we fit it all in! Also, it’s fantastic that there are many changes of dynamic, groupings and organisation to look forward to.

Clearly, somebody attending a choral class will get more detailed and extensive instruction in voice production and posture; somebody attending a dance class will get more persistent technical instruction; and somebody attending an acting class will get closer instruction in voice projection, body language and facial expressions. However, a musical theatre course can provide a solid grounding across the board, and some former pupils have so enjoyed specific areas that they have gone on to attend other, more specialised, classes alongside attending mine.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(8)••••••••••••••••••

An integral part of my musical theatre programme is improvisation. As a process of ongoing assessment I encourage all the children to be critics of each others’ performances. It’s so much more interesting to hear a variety of opinions rather than have the ‘teacher’ always telling you what they think.

This process involves the invocation of a problematic word - one that I’ve already used - ‘criticism’. This is a word that has pejorative connotations. When we are critical of each other, there is the implication of dissatisfaction and negativity. I want my classes to be positive, uplifting, life-enriching experiences. How can this be possible if I encourage the participants to criticise each other?

Education in constructive criticism is essential. Constantly asking children what they think is ‘good’ about another’s performance helps them to understand why they enjoy a performance, and what the specific qualities, attitudes and techniques might be that they can ‘use’ to enhance their own future performance. It can also help them to see quality within performances they don’t especially enjoy, and identify exactly the qualities that can inhibit the potential for a ‘good’ or entertaining performance.

Sounds positive? Well it is. And so it should be. The Performing Arts are based around confidence, and even the most seasoned performer needs reassurance. What is tricky, when working with kids, is getting over their initial inhibitions about commenting on their friends. They are so used to adults telling them what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ that they are often nonplussed when asked for their own opinions (although you might doubt this if you were to spend an evening watching American Idol with my daughter!).

Having persuaded the children to comment, there is a need to focus on observation, identification and the language necessary to express this. For instance, when asking for a positive comment, the response will often be ‘I liked it.’ ‘Why?’ ‘It was good.’ ‘What was good about it?’ ‘I liked it.’ etc.

By beginning to focus on aspects for which there is a definite answer - ‘Could you hear what they were saying?’, ‘Did they turn their backs on the audience’ - it is possible to lead them towards precise, and constructive, criticism of their peers.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(9)••••••••••••••••••

Improvisation has always been an integral part of the preparation process in the professional theatre. Yet it is only in recent times, with exposure through programmes such as ‘Whose Line Is It, Anyway?’ that the general public has had any real inkling as to what ‘improv’ involves.

So, when I say that my classes for children have segments that are based around improvisation, does that mean that they play games just like the ones Drew Carey introduces on the telly? Do I have a buzzer, a hat and a host of ideas provided by members of the audience (class)? No.

Well, then, do I simply ask the children to stand up in front of each other and make something up? I don’t think so. I’d be hard pressed to justify the educational content in that, and the parents who are paying good money to send their children to the class might raise their eyebrows and think I’m opting for the easy life.

No, the improvisation segments of my class are carefully planned. This may seem to be an oxymoron, but in order for the activities to be beneficial I need to have thought about what I want the children to achieve, and to have plotted the skills and concepts necessary to achieve this.

Let me take you back to the top of this article, where I talked about the use of improvisation in the preparation of professional productions. If the play is written down - if the words the characters have to say, the situations they have to say them in, and the stage directions are clear - then why can’t they just learn to say and do those things. Surely that is acting?

Not really. We often know when we come into contact with good acting, but are equally often unable to articulate why it is so good. I will suggest that the x-factor is likely to have something to do with character motivation. When an actor understands what motivates a character - what events and experiences make them behave in a certain way - then they are likely to give a more convincing performance than an actor who merely moves in the correct way, stands in the right place and says all the right things.

If the audience were to be explicitly aware of the characters’ experience then every play would have to begin at the point where the characters were born and outline all the important events that happened in their life. This would make every play interminable. So dramatists begin in mid-life, usually at a point immediately before a moment when something out of the ordinary is about to happen, and a convincing performance will persuade you that the characters existed before we came across them, and will continue to exist even after the curtain comes down. Improvisation during the preparation process can aid these impressions. The actors will understand the motivations of their character by being aware of the ‘history’ that has made them who they are.

I intend to explain this, but as this topic is too enormous to deal with in one article. I shall pick up this train of thought next month.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(10)••••••••••••••••••

In last month’s column I began outlining why improvisation is an important factor in developing acting skills, and how, in the context of theatrical preparation, the word means much more than making it up as you go along. This month I will give some examples of how this works, and provide some explanation of what a powerful teaching and learning technique it can be.

A couple of years ago I wrote a short musical, based in a beauty salon, in which there were four characters. Three of these characters were patrons of the salon, and the fourth was the owner. The three were best buddies, and the fourth a long-time acquaintance but not a good friend.

As the play unfolds it becomes clear that the three friends have a longer- lasting association with the one acquaintance than the patrons remember: but the owner remembers clearly. They had all been at school together but the salon owner had been ostracised and excluded from the clique comprising the other three.

All of the action takes place during one morning, but in preparation I had the actresses improvise schoolyard scenes, teen-party scenes, and other scenes in order that they could behave in the ways that their characters would have behaved and experience the feelings they would have felt. None of this would be displayed to the audience, but would have lodged some experiences within the performers and, therefore, colour their characterisations, adding depth and realism: motivation.

Children do not have the same range of memories and experiences as most adults, but they do have real, profoundly felt, experience of relationships and of dealing with others and the world at large. When they perform it is not enough, for me, for them to stand in the right place, move in the right way and say the right lines. Children can perform with real depth and insight. Children can understand motivation and embedded feelings, and as a teacher I feel it is my responsibility to help them get into closer contact with these aspects.

This is facilitated by the improvisation process. In many of my classes I set up situations of conflict in which I ask the children to come up with a range of ideas, reactions and strategies to attempt to get their own way. I set up situations in which the participants have different temperaments and outlooks and expect them to behave in the appropriate way. Through experience and constructive criticism, the children lose their inhibitions, enabling them to become more in touch with their feelings and desires, and gradually they seem to be ‘acting’ less, and simply ‘reacting’ more honestly.

Paradoxically, this brings them closer to the true art of acting!

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••••(11)••••••••••••••••••

On occasion you might walk into my music theatre class, In the Spotlight, and find a room full of children messing around with sheets of newspapers: folding them, sitting on them, using them as shelter from imaginary rain, swatting flies with them, even reading them. You might ask what’s going on. You would, however, probably have to ask me to turn the music down in order to ask me. Yes, there would be music playing, as my answer would be, “They’re dancing!”

Now, when most people hear the word ‘dance’ a very clear image is conjured up in their mind - John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever; Michael Jackson moonwalking; Margot Fonteyn pirouetting; Fred Astaire tapping; a couple waltzing to a melody by Strauss; even Torvill and Dean’s Bolero, or some Morris Dancers with their hankies (don’t ask!) - but folding, sitting on, sheltering with, reading newspapers. Come on!

But, just as acting in my classes is approached through improvisation, so dancing is addressed through exploration and experimentation. True, there are times when the dancing needs to be choreographed (although often this will be decided through exploration and experimentation, rather than simply being imposed by me), and there will be (many, many) times when we search for the groove. Musical theatre, though, is supposed to be a sublime, complex, yet direct, combination of words, music and movement.

The musical theatre choreographer and director will differentiate between naturalistic movement and dance, but in the finest examples there is a felt relationship between all types of movement on the stage, and a fluidity of passage from one to the other. Imagine, if you’ve ever seen it, the opening of the movie version of West Side Story where the gang members walk down the street (snapping their fingers to the beat) then individually and collective allow their posture and body language to expand into full-blown expressive movement (dance) as they gradually build up to a tight, well- choreographed dance sequence. Magnificent! Natural, heartfelt, uninhibited, yet disciplined and coherent. Interestingly Jerome Robbins was the director as well as the choreographer of this show: naturalistic and dance movement all belong to a single vision!

So, in my classes, the children get to explore movement in different contexts, while handling a variety of props, and I call this dance. To get this point across, their initial ‘free’ explorations are then developed through the imposition of more and more expectations: how many floor positions they must move to; how many different body levels (high, medium, low) they must adopt; when they must work alone; when they must interact with others, etc.

Naturalistic movement is transformed into dance,

By the way - when we choreograph sequences it’s fantastically exciting if we all raise the same hand, look the same way, then kick the same leg in sync. But if the cost of this is to lose the groove, then give me the odd child raising the opposite hand, looking left instead of right, or kicking the wrong leg any time.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••(12)••••••••••••••••••••

Anyone reading the columns I’ve written for Living Arts Malaysia might think, Patrick’s classes sound like fun, but are we sure the children will learn stuff. Well, I’m no child psychologist, but I would imagine that the fact that they are fun would already lead me to suspect they’re likely to be learning. How do I justify this? Well, ask an eight year-old boy about different times tables and see if they struggle, then ask them about the different Pokemon - which evolves into which, what type they are, what their attacks are - and see if they have that information at their fingertips. We always learn best about things we enjoy.

So far so good. But what if the pleasure, or sheer joy bubbles over into uncontrolled, unfocussed boisterousness? Are we still convinced that the children are learning what they should; developing appropriate skills and attitudes?

In this we have, I believe, raised one of the fundamental philosophical issues of the performing arts. An audience wants discipline and accuracy from the performers it is paying to see. But if the cost of this discipline and accuracy is personality, energy and expressiveness then surely they will go home disappointed. On the other hand, a performance full of risk-taking exuberance that is inaccurate and ill-disciplined will feel cheated and, perhaps, even a little embarrassed.

The truly great performers have this ability to take risks, expose themselves honestly and ‘nakedly’ but with great fidelity to the text, and the trust and support of their fellow performers.

When teaching the performing arts, we are constantly left precariously balanced on this double-edged sword: wanting our charges to be bold and brave, but depending on them to remain focussed and on-task.

Some personalities are naturally more outgoing than others, but through exploration and experience (allied to good observation and advice) the sought-after qualities lie somewhere within most of us.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••(13)••••••••••••••••••••

So, it’s a new year, and we’re all making our resolutions and thinking of the good things we’re going to experience and achieve before the calendar clicks over into 2006. Except that, although this edition is dated January 2005, you will probably be able to pick up a copy before Christmas of 2004, and - editors demands being as they are - I’m actually writing this in mid-October, and worrying about all the things that I’m hoping to (HAVE GOT TO!) do before the end of the year.

While I’m caught in this ‘tween time let me look back as well as forward. What did I achieve in 2004? Certainly some personal goals, as well as professional ones.

One of my resolutions for 2004 - if I’m to be honest, not so much a resolution as a response to a doctor’s ultimatum - was to get healthier, fitter and thinner. Check, check, check! I’ve changed my diet. increased the duration and frequency of my visits to the gym, lost more than 40 kilos, and won a holiday for 2 in Bali as first prize in the Sweat Club Body Challenge. So that could hardly be bettered.

Between this date of writing, and the time at which you’re reading this (I assume there is somebody who does read this column) I will have been involved in 2 productions at the Actors Studio @ Bangsar Shopping Centre.

The kids of In the Spotlight will have performed Father Christmas: Super Sleuth. A fun, seasonal musical that I’ve written. composed and directed, with some choreographic assistance from my talented daughter Leela, and rehearsal support from Balqis and Nala. I hope it has been a roaring success. I will expand on the role that ‘hope’ plays in children’s theatre next month.

I’m also writing music and lyrics for and taking an acting role in Gardner and Wife’s production of Little Violet and the Angel that runs through most of December.

So, why don’t you take some chances yourself in 2004? Enrol in that performing arts programme, or listen to your children when they tell you they want to have a go. Make sure your teenagers don’t lose the spark. Take the plunge. Life is not a rehearsal, it’s only when you’re preparing for multiple productions at the same time that it feels like it might be.

Now, where did I leave my script?

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••(14)••••••••••••••••••••

In last month’s column, I expressed the ‘hope’ that the children from the In the Spotlight programme of 2004 would have had a successful performance in December. You might, quite validly, have asked the question: ‘If he’s the course director, composer, writer and choreographer why doesn’t he know if they will perform successfully?’

Allow me to explain. If you are planning a professional production, you pay your performers and, within reason, they do what they are paid to do. If, on the other hand, you are planning a production that is, in a sense, a graduation piece to conclude a programme of study that the students are paying for, as the director you need to ensure that the participants continue to get value for money, and do not - as I have railed against on many occasions - simply ‘stand there, hold that, say that, do what I say’ over and over again until they ‘get it right’.

This does not mean that, as the course leader, you relinquish control of the show, but it does mean that there remains - until late in the preparation process - a number of areas that you ‘hope’ are going to come together.

Also, adult performers improve as they become more familiar and comfortable with their material. This is, to an extent, true of children as well. The difference is that their window of excellence is narrower. If they become comfortable with the material two weeks before opening night, they will be stale by the time they face an audience. If they become comfortable one day after opening night - OOPS!

So, there is a constant tension in the build up. If it’s too easy for them they will grow bored, so they need to be challenged. If the challenge you set is too much you might end up with chaos. I’m constantly doing sums in my head, figuring out how many more times we should be able to work at this or that aspect, and how great a percentage of improvement we can expect per run through. The equation I cannot answer accurately is the impact that will be made by children missing a session or two, not only on their own performance but that of their colleagues! Therefore, I’m always hoping that it will come together for the big day.

Ironically, when I was working in school it was, in a sense, easier to guarantee peaking for the right date than it is working for the Academy. If you were struggling, you could cancel the regular timetable and rehearse intensively with groups of children. I can only work with Academy children during the hours when the course is scheduled. If I’ve done my sums right, we should be alright on the night.

One can only hope.

Patrick Jonathan

•••••••••••••••(15)••••••••••••••••••••

Lucky is the person who loves their work. I’m a lucky man. I often complain about being ‘snowed under’, and never seem to get any closer to completing it, but - as my wife so accurately puts it - ‘You love it, really.’

Many people who work in the performing arts are workaholics. Not because they think they’ll get rich, but because they, in a sense, haven’t chosen their career, it has chosen them. Many would, and often do, work for nothing. The reward is in the sheer thrill of creativity, collaboration and opportunity for self-expression.

Many teachers are workaholics. Not because they think they’ll get rich, but because they, in a sense, haven’t chosen their career, it has chosen them. There is a thrill and delight in working with enthusiastic, uninhibited young minds.

What luck to be a person who works as a teacher in the performing arts.

When you reach my age there is an almost vampiric delight in feeding off the energy, enthusiasm and honesty of young performers. You might feel tired when you wake up to your alarm on a Sunday morning, but after two hours of non-stop, energetic song, dance and improvisation you leave - shirt drenched with sweat - feeling like the day is young and you have the energy to do anything you wish with it.

Working with children is, also, a humbling experience. From where do they get their bravery, imagination and assurance. Were we all once blessed in this way?

I think many people regard me as pretty immature. I think that’s a good thing. I’m a creative person, and have always felt that my creativity is somehow linked to my inability to grow up. While others are searching for the hero inside themself, I’m searching for the child. If I ever grow up, will I still be able to tune in to my imagination in the same way? I’m not prepared to take that risk.

I also get very embarassed when performing in front of adults. They can be so judgemental, and make me feel embarassed about my childishness. I never feel inhibited, however, when facing a group of children. I feel safe and secure - as though I’m interacting with my peers.

I’m always flattered that these amazing young people are willing accept me as a peer.

Or perhaps I really flatter myself and can only aspire to such a status!

Patrick Jonathan

 

|Site built by www.grumpyoldgeek.net|