28th April 2006 at 01:00
Ed Max is a serious admirer of Tolkien and the theatre

Books I love

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and The Player of Games by Iain Banks both speculate on what human behaviour might be like in a different world.

At Oxford my tutors dismissed The Lord of the Rings as child's stuff, but I think that was just jealousy. I love the Banks because it's cold and brutal with an absolute grasp of structure, which makes room for the reader's emotions.

Films I love

As an actor I've always preferred to perform in theatre because it has to be right on the night; with film everything can be adjusted to make it right. But I do love the motorway sequence and the fights in Matrix Reloaded.

Best inspiration

I saw 32 final-year degree students perform 16 scenes or monologues at last year's Scenes Showcase at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where I trained, and I didn't see one bad performance, not one weak actor. I would have employed any one of them. That is what good drama training ought to be like.

I love to use in class

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology website on the complete works of Shakespeare ( Shakespeare?nsearch.cgi) is a gift because it really teaches students about his use of language. You can type in any word and the site will bring up all the quotes in Shakespeare which contain that word. It is good for, say, showing the correlation between sex, death and money. Edward Lear's poem "The Akond of Swat" is good to use as a drama exercise and to teach students about the power of rhyme. I always show my recording of Peter Brook's Mahabharata to my AS drama students after their summer exams because its scope is so wide and its techniques so simple.

Treat in store

Next year's Cirque du Soleil with my three children (at London's Royal Albert Hall). We love the sense of fun, the theatrical vision and the power of symbols. Also, the non-linear stories and concepts always leave the children asking "why?" and "what if?"

Ed Max, 41, drama teacher and professional actor, is currently teaching supply and directing Frinton Summer Theatre, which runs from July to the August bank holiday. Interview by Elaine Williams

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