Drama a way of life for tutor

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AFTER 40 years of teaching Repertory Invercargill’s Youth Drama, Lindsey Rodmell is still learning.

For her final production, which was performed last weekend, Rodmell’s class performed Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. With no dialogue, the story was told in mime.

“The kids that I worked with were treading on brand new ground,” she said.

“Telling a story with no voices is huge. It was a big challenge and a learning curve for all of us.”

However, she said the show was a success and was a fitting way to retire from an organisation which had been such a big part of her life.

“It’s been a source of great friendship for me.”

Rodmell said the best part of taking a drama class was seeing the shy child perform and gain in confidence.

“The best reward for teaching drama is seeing a child overcome shyness and become a confident character in a play and in life in general.”

Drama has always been an important part of Rodmell’s family’s life. Her children had performed on the stage and helped with various productions, and now her grandchildren were interested in the craft.

It also helped her and her children get immersed in the Southland community after moving from Christchurch, she said.

“It was a good way for my kids to get involved with a group other than school and it was a good way for our family to become involved with the community.”

Her own foray into theatre was at a young age.

“I was just one of the background people and then that girl got sick, and so I had to take over. I really enjoyed it.”

She said being on the stage and performing, with her parents in the audience, was very exciting and a big memory she had held on to.

During her teaching career, she has taken classes in puppetry, shadow puppetry and short plays.

Some of the shows which have stood out over the years of teaching are a Christmas play called Jesus’ Birthday, Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations by Alan Ayckbourn, and Snow White and the Dreadful Dwarfs by Jan Sardi.

Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox at the former Repertory House building was also memorable, she said, because the story took place both above and under ground.

“It was quite a learning curve I think for the backstage people because they had to make different heights of staging.”

Rodmell said they used the front of the stage, the stairs and platforms to bring it all to life.

“It was a fabulous play to do.”

One of Southland’s well-known entertainers, Hamish McGregor, performed as one of the farmers in the play, she said.

McGregor has gone on to perform in shows such as Operatunity’s daytime concerts and he recently wrote and performed Living Large With Marge at the Basement Theatre in Auckland.

Rodmell said she had other students go on to further their drama careers as well, featuring in productions such as musical theatre. Some had also gone on to teach.

“We’ve got some tutors now who started in junior rep, which is huge.”

Also a life member of Repertory Invercargill, Rodmell said she looked forward to being in the audience of the society’s future productions.

“Repertory Drama is in good hands and it has been a privilege to work with a great, supportive committee. Stage work is seldom one person, it requires a team.”

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