“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” Ray Bradbury.
“Have you ever stood among a roomful of strangers striving to embody a colour of your choice – emoting from your lungs to your fingertips the sensation of being, say, red or yellow or green? No, neither had I until I signed up, in a moment of rashness and insatiable curiosity, for a four-day acting course at the Poor School, King’s Cross which I saw advertised in a well-known London listings magazine.“ Theatre critic Dominic Cavendish
The story so far: Following an open call for scripts from Wells Festival of Literature with Bristol-based Show of Strength Theatre Company, my short play “Mr Wild” was selected to be performed along with 12 others .
This was my first foray into writing for many years. To say I was nervous about my script being performed by a professional theatre company would be an understatement. Anxieties ensued to the extent of invading my dreams. Now looking back I wonder why I made such a fuss. The reality on the day was my character captivated his audience via actor David Reakes superb portrayal.
I used my script to tell a modern day story of a place through the journey of its sons and daughters who are bound by a truly inspirational, although maverick, drama teacher called Mr Wild who taught at Wells Blue School from 1976 to 2005. A high proportion of Mr Wild’s students have followed a path leading to great heights in the creative industries or have used their talents to do well in other fields. This intrigued me, so I set about talking to some of Mr Wild’s ex students.
Following the performance of “Mr Wild” some of the same people who helped me build the picture of “Mr Wild” encouraged me to continue the story.
As the story unfolds, I will follow wherever it takes me, recording what happens. This leads me to The Poor School to experience the next episode of my character’s journey: Drama School.
The Poor School was founded by Paul Caister in 1986, who continues to run the school. They offer courses that cover: Movement, voice, acting study, verse and text. The full-time course runs over evenings and weekends to allow people to self-fund by holding down a day job. The four-day taster course I am attending serves as a feeder course into a two year course. The Poor School welcomes professionals who wish to improve confidence or simply brush-up presenter/speaker skills etc.
“The short course should give you a taster of the real thing. And I think the Poor School is renowned for its no-holds-barred approach, so you’ll definitely get plenty of material.” Playwright and Mr Wild ex student Martin Malcolm tells me.
On the other hand: ”It’s a real mixture of people trying to get on the full time course and people trying to improve their confidence in public speaking, so a very eclectic mix, although Paul Caister who runs the school is a complete neurotic loon”, says another - whom I won’t name.
Speaking to Paul Caister on the phone, as I book my place on the taster acting course, I say: “Do be gentle with me”. I get the feeling such a request to Paul might be an act of futility.