You’ve heard the phrase that “all the world is a stage”, but for the real scoop, we turned to IGGPPC member Ashley who currently living the Shakespearean dream as a drama teacher in Hong Kong. We asked Ashley to share her experiences as a theatre instructor and asked her what advice she has for those who want to follow in her footsteps!
Thank you so much for doing this interview! What’s your job title and where do you work?
I am the head of Performing Arts and Director of the Drama department at Colour My World in Hong Kong
Can you tell us a bit about the work you are doing and what makes it awesome?
My overall day today job is to oversee the smooth running of the Performing Arts Department. That means liaising with the Speech Communications and Writing teachers on their needs and giving them support where they need it. What makes my job awesome though are responsibilities as Head of Drama. Along with teaching acting and stagecraft classes at various level I direct around 50 young actors in the annual charity production. My students range from 4-14 years old. Last year, over a 5 month rehearsal period the students, my staff and I went on an adventure to create and become the whismy and wonderful world of Alice in Wonderland. The most awesome part for me is getting to pass on a love of theatre by giving them an all encompassing experience. My university degree is in design and technical theatre but I love directing and I love working with kids so this job is a brilliant opportunity to open my students up both worlds. So basically I get paid to do everything I love all at the same time for the purpose of perpetuating awesome to the next generation (while teaching them about philanthropy) It’s perfect really.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a drama teacher?
I don’t know if I had a choice really. As a 7 year old I wanted to be an actor and a teacher and now 20 odd years later I am an acting teacher.
What did you go to school for? Did school primarily help you for this job, or did other hobbies, work experience, and personal learning on your own time help more?
I guess it would be a combination of things really. As a kid I was always creating something. Turning stories into plays and teaching my cosigns all the parts turned into writing then acting in high school. When I first started university I was a Theatre Education major, but as I went through my sophomore and junior years I loved my theatre classes way more than the education classes so I switched majors to Design/Tech. When I graduated a company in Hong Kong was advertising for Drama Teachers to come teach English through Drama. I thought it sounded like a cool opportunity, applied, got the job and came full circle.
What’s a typical work day like?
I teach in a center for the arts so I work year round and a typical day varies depending on time of year. Summer times are the most full on. Every morning we do theatre/art camps where students aged 4-14, so my mornings are spent preparing students for a 30 minute showcase at the end of the week. Younger students 4-7 are in the ensemble and the older students make the principal cast. The first day I meet students and start blocking as best as I can based on that weeks topic. Once I sort of know the abilities and ranges of students I go off and write a script for the next days lesson. The afternoons are either spent building sets, props and costumes for the morning show and teaching specialty classes. Some of my favorite classes that I have taught have been advanced acting, stagecraft (set/costume design) and play production.
Durning term time things are slightly different. Mornings are spent preparing rehearsal plans, building set, props, costume for the charity show. This year’s show is Beauty and the Beast and our proceeds are going to the Hong Kong chapter Bring Me A Book so I spend time working up ways to promote the charity. In the afternoons I run the rehearsals and teach non-show classes.
6. What’s the most interesting and exciting part of your job? The charity show for sure is the most interesting and exciting part of my job. I love putting a production together. Always have and now that I have a job doing that is amazing. The biggest pay off is watching it all come together for the run of the show, seeing the kids light up with pride and hearing the audience reactions…there is no better drug.
What has been most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part for me is watching a student grow from shy and inward to loud and confident. To watch students bust through barriers they didn’t even know were limiting them and run free in their creativity.
What are some of the more unusual perks of your job?
Getting paid to watch movies/youtube on the work couch all in the name or research!
What would you offer as advice to someone who wanted to get into the same type of job as you?
Experience is the best teacher. Be patient with yourself and the kids. Remember they are just little people and try not to get married to your lesson plans. Some things you think suck will go over a smash and things you think are the absolute bees knees will flop like Shamu…and that’s okay. 😉
Do you have a cool job, or know someone who has a cool job? We would love to interview them! Leave a comment and let us know!