When I was seven, my mother, in what she later described as a desperate move, took me along to ballet classes. I remember thinking, ‘well, this is a bizarre choice’, seeing as I hadn’t expressed any pressing interest in donning a tutu to chuck frappés, hoik arabesques, or (god forbid) lob a grand jeté. What on earth was Mum thinking to put this freckly, boisterous, unco and definitely un-prima donna girl through such an ordeal? Turns out Mum knew a thing or two about her daughter. Ballet class sealed my fate. In the nicest possible way.
What my mother knew about me was that I was a performer. She’d pegged it before I’d even pegged it. She and the rest of my family had seen me ‘putting on a show of it’ since I was a toddler.
I would rattle up a show tune in an age-inappropriate costume for the entertainment of unsuspecting house guests. I practiced rambling, tear-stained Oscar acceptance speeches. I drove everyone nuts with my wildly inaccurate impersonations of anyone from Lucille Ball to Captain Kirk. At school, I was a raucous, undisciplined, skittish sort of kid, the type who gets a C-minus for self-control on her Grade 2 school report. Yes, it was the C-minus in self-control that clinched it for Mum. Something had to be done. Desperate times, she thought quietly to herself.
Despite having absolutely no idea what my penchant for performing meant and no reference point (no-one in our family in living memory had been involved in performing arts, not even as a hobby), Mum did what instinct told her to do; get that kid some learning.
JUTE Theatre Company offers what my mother in 1968 could not find— a place to let her child explore the Performing Arts. JUTE offers the JUTE Theatre School, a place where young people who have a talented bone in their body can find out more about acting. The JUTE Theatre School’s 2018 term 4 is about to begin. Sure, it will be so much fun, but what are the true benefits of this sort of training? I’ll tell you what it did for me.
Seeing as there were no drama schools in the small town of my childhood, the next best thing was ballet school. At the tender age of 6, Mum signed me up. I was non-plussed. I couldn’t see the use of all that repetitive toe-pointing and arm waving in unison; I was more of a talker than a dancer anyway.
Then one day my canny ballet teacher asked the class ‘who is the actor amongst you?’. Most eyes and little fingers in the class pointed to me. The teacher promptly nominated me to learn and perform a solo ballet number called The Mischievous Maid, which in her opinion required a good deal of acting as much as dancing. I nailed that thing. Then I was hooked.
I stayed in ballet classes for ten years. I loved it. I never again got a C-minus in self-control. I learned to stand still when I needed to, to listen to the teacher, to be patient, to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse again until I got it right.
I learned that talent is not enough.
Energy is not enough.
Imagination is not enough.
Discipline. Craft. Focus. These things are essential for performance.
That’s the point. That was my mother’s point. Even if she never really intended for me to take up a career in the Performing Arts, which I certainly did, what she knew was that learning craft was critical. She knew that taking classes brings so many more benefits than just learning the moves and being distracted for an hour or so on something creative. She knew the act of practicing performance in a group environment with a professional facilitator both moderates impulses and draws out strengths like confidence, resilience, and in my case at least, learning to stand still and think.
JUTE THEATRE SCHOOL
JUTE Theatre Company offers young people who are serious about theatre a chance to find some focused concentrated training at the JUTE Theatre School (JTS). We believe in it as a stepping stone to understanding what a future in acting feels like. Being able to conduct yourself well in an acting environment requires discipline, patience, listening and above all, leaving your ego at the door. There are no stars at JTS, only the honest rigour of ensemble work. JUTE wants to point your drama-loving son or daughter in the right direction to enter a professional career. But, of course, not every child who likes drama wants to be an actor. Even if they decide not to go on to a career in acting, the classes will give them focus, open them up to the true craft of theatre, and help them get A+ in self-control.
Term 4 2018 of JTS will being in just one week! The highly skilled and wonderfully talented Mark Sheppard, who wants to share his keen knowledge of clowning and how this traditional form of theatrics can help free your imagination, open up your skills in improvisation and allow you to connect to the inner emotional world of your characters on stage, will be the facilitator for the high school and senior groups. Improvisational specialist Taeg Twist will facilitate the primary school group.
Some feedback we have received from students and their parents in the last year about what JUTE Theatre School gives to participants:
“The JUTE Theatre School classes have given my daughter more confidence. She speaks more clearly and even her teachers at school have noticed a difference in her ability to stay on task.”
“Even though he is not shy at home, he is usually very nervous to speak in front of people. Since taking the classes, which he loves, he is gaining so much more confidence to speak up. I’m really happy and he enjoys the theatre classes so much.”
“The classes are so fun. I look forward to it. There’s always new stuff to learn.”
Expect fun. But also expect hard work.
The final term of the 2018 JTS will begin On October 24, an afternoon or evening class depending on the age of the student, every Wednesday. There are classes for primary, secondary and adult students. This term hosts a special guest, actor and facilitator Mark Sheppard who will be focussing on comedy and the theatrical uses of clown work. Give JUTE a call to book a place on book online today. As an introductory offer, your first class will be free.