A day in the life of...
My day begins at 6am, when I wake up and get ready for a bracing cycle to work along the crisp, cold Brighton seafront. Last week, I was almost killed when I was set upon by a particularly enthusiastic dog. Now I cycle with a level of cautiousness that didn't exist at the start of term.
I arrive at Brighton College at about 7am and rush up to my office, change out of my cycling clothes and check my emails (lots of emails) before dashing over to the house.
Every house at the school is engaged in preparation for the annual music competition, a pupil-led event in which the female houses deliver well-rehearsed and tuneful performances, while the boys are loud and thrust their hips.
The housemaster asks if I'll help to coordinate the boys because, as a drama teacher, I am expected to be able to effortlessly choreograph 80 teenage boys to sing like angels, dance like John Travolta and do all this in a room not much bigger than a caravan. I don't want to highlight my fallibility, so I give it a go. What the result lacks in musical skill, it makes up for in enthusiasm.
My teaching day involves almost every year group; topics vary from the Theatre of Cruelty and Eastern European storytelling to poetic Spanish drama and textual analysis of Greek tragedy. My job is never boring. Just as I am flagging before lunch, a particularly lovely Year 10 class inspires me with animal performances full of energy and imagination.
I wolf down my food in 10 minutes and rush to the library, where we are holding informal lunchtime performances in which pupils showcase their writing, acting and directing skills. It starts off slowly today and I have to work hard to persuade the volunteers to perform. But once they do, the enthusiasm snowballs and there is an audible groan when I say that we have to return to lessons.
A performance from one Year 9 boy is particularly exciting - he is new to the school and takes a public-speaking class with me, but has said very little so far. He recites a monologue he has written. I don't know if I'm more proud of him for doing it, or of the audience for listening without so much as a murmur, then cheering loudly when he finishes. He leaves the stage taller and broader than before.
I have just enough time to confirm a theatre company's booking for a performance of Federico Garca Lorca's Blood Wedding, featuring trapeze work and intense physical drama, before it's straight back into the classroom to explore the components of comedy.
The school day finishes at 4pm and I rush to a two-hour rehearsal for the upcoming senior play: an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's short story Diary of a Madman. The pupils are fantastic and we work on a particularly fun scene, with poodles waltzing to a tune by the Kinks.
I cycle home, a full 12 hours after leaving the house. I'm exhausted, but I have a head full of ideas for tomorrow and a smile on my face.
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