Chair of the Arts Department
Know Your Pelicans
What is your favorite thing about Packer?
My favorite thing about Packer is the people. And the amazing courses students follow. Oh... and the garden area at the back. And the old-fashioned arrow indicator-thingy above the elevator doors on the Garden level which doesn't work any more but is, importantly in my view, still there.
Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.
My most memorable moment so far has come in the rehearsal room. In the scene in Macbeth where Duncan's body is discovered, I'd always wondered about Lady Macbeth's "fainting" — was it real, was it fake? And if it was fake, why? And why at that precise moment? The student playing Donalbain said he felt he wanted to see his dead father's body. We agreed that this was a natural impulse so we worked in his move towards the bedroom where the body lay. It so happened that he reached the door at the moment Lady Macbeth fainted — and it occurred to me in a flash, that perhaps she faints to cause a scene that will prevent anyone else going to see the body and the pretty sketchy evidence that it was the grooms who had killed the king. It was a beautiful moment of pure chance but it has changed that scene for me forever.
Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.
There is no one work of art that has changed me, but a series of moments that have stopped me in my tracks and which have altered my view of things. The Count asking for forgiveness at the end of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, "'Within this pale crucible of light" from Britten's The Rape of Lucretia — two arias of stunning beauty and (very different) dramatic weight; the scene in which Nicholas departs on a "coach" for London in David Edgar's eight-hour stage adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby. In 1982 I had no idea till then that such "tricks" were possible. Mary's line about a former boyfriend in Lanford Wilson's Serenading Louis — "I don't actually think... that I loved him then. But I love him then now." Stomach-punchingly good. These moments deepen life and in the words of Louis McNeice, "World is suddener than we fancy it."
What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?
I don't think you can ever listen to too much Barry White.