An Open Letter to My Drama Teachers

Hollie Godwin

After recently becoming a director of youth musicals, I find myself among eager performers of tomorrow, imparting my own wisdom and experience, hoping to inspire enthusiastic and confident new artists, if you will. Until you meet a student who out-rightly says 'thank you for your help', as I recently did, you don’t quite realize the impact you have on budding minds.  It led me to think of all the teachers and directors from my past that have helped me to grow into the performer/director/writer I am today, which believe me, is a long way away from the shy and chubby thirteen-year old that I was.

For some, the lights and buzz of the theatre are innate but as a shy and quiet introvert, my love and apparent talent for acting took several years and some very intuitive educators to help me realize my potential. I may never win an Oscar or a Tony award (though we live in hope) so I may never get the chance to say it, I thought I’d write a short thank you to all those who’ve helped me get to where I am now.

In the early days, the biggest barrier is confidence. My first few roles were given to me as an understudy for the pushy class drama-queen. It turned out, according to my teacher, I played the roles better anyway so became the permanent replacement. It takes the opinion of someone you truly respect and know is knowledgeable in the subject, to help you realize that maybe this is the untapped talent that you’ve been waiting to discover. With the first stepping stones in place, I began to take things a little more seriously, taking Performing Arts GCSE and joining an independent theatre group. Suddenly anytime someone plopped a script in front of me, my creative juices came pouring by the gallon.

I loved being given huge characters that had incredible stage presence allowing me to give memorable performances, that are still quoted in the Godwin household and among friends to this day (a mention of pie or sardines will just about do it). All along the way, there was one person, usually the director, who was the backbone of the project, dropping little verbal bombs of encouragement that kept a reserved student motivated.

Those crucial years where I was discovering who I was, with those incredibly supportive tutors, lead me to the career path that I'm heading down now, with the level of self-belief that I can take on a variety of projects involving performing, directing and writing. The saying goes that those who can do, and those who can’t, teach.  The likelihood is, anyone who still uses that phrase, probably knows nothing about teaching and its importance. Without education, where would any of us be? The truth is most teachers do and teach and every now and again as a student you will come across a teacher/director who really understands you and helps you find out who you are. It's so easy to be swept away when charting your own course that we forget to say thank you to all those people who helped us along the way.

So finally, let me say it, thank you all for inspiring me and pointing me in the right direction. Perhaps now I too, can do the same for the performers of tomorrow, which makes whatever the outcome, all seem worthwhile.

Photo: Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts