Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
From 'Idiosyncrasies and Other Tendencies' by Lauren Noble
Ideas take a rather long time to develop in my mind into anything worthy of actual pursuit. At any one time I have a plethora of random (sometimes ridiculous and often repetitious) ideas mulling around in my imagination waiting for something to spark them into more than an errant thought. For the longest time I have lamented the fact that as a teacher in 2018 it is almost impossible to pursue anything further than the day-to-day planning, marking, re-planning, student feedback, parental engagement, emails and data captures that are now synonymous with our career choice. I am in awe of the men and women who teach but have carved out the time to devote to parental duties and other noble pursuits or even just hobbies that bring them a sense of happiness or accomplishment outside the classroom. Personally, I have missed writing for me. Not for a school production or an assembly or a Facebook post or even a birthday card... just for me!
I always felt guilty that I started a blog in 2011 and wrote only five entries until it too landed on the infamous back-burner pile along with my novels, professional productions and poetry. In 2015 when I married my husband I was given the unique opportunity to write my own vows for our ceremony and a speech for our reception. It took me far longer than I ever thought possible because I realised, in that moment, how significant words are to me. I am always able to express my thoughts better in written form rather than via impromptu speeches even though many think that because I am a Performing Arts teacher I should be able to get up and speak to a large room of people without any qualms. Guess again, folks! Improv is my absolute worst and I feel safer when my performance is deeply rooted (preferably within a Stanislavskian framework) in the lines of a script, whether they be mine or someone else's.
My inspiration behind anything will always be rooted in one of two things (or both, if I can manage it) and they are: the education of young minds, and the theatre as a space to express thoughts in a tangible setting. As a young girl I was always inspired by words: the speeches at prizegivings where I valued the awards I was given, the songs and moral messages in Disney films which began with my refusal to allow my parents to remove the Dumbo VHS, the lessons I was taught by my favourite teachers many of which I can remember exactly more than 20 years later, the lines of the variety of characters I have been lucky enough to play throughout my life and - of course - the immortal words of the literature I have come to love more so now than ever before. JK Rowling's writing has always been a place to seek solace, a place to find comfort, a place to learn empathy and a place to understand that, as teachers and as dramatists, we are an integral part of the fight to keep evil at bay.
Dumbledore's eccentricity often masks his ambivalence as a character. He makes questionable decisions, manipulates people based on their own weaknesses whilst becoming a father-figure to an orphaned child and providing amazing advice in almost the same breath. As a character Dumbledore is as three-dimensional as ever because he is inherently flawed and he himself acknowledges this in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince when he says:
"I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being - forgive me - rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger."
Dumbledore's flaws are explored in the final chapters of the Harry Potter saga and they prove that no one, least of all a man like Dumbledore, is perfect. What a wonderful lesson to learn when we are so often held to ridiculous standards in today's world. And how amazing to learn it later in life when re-reading a childhood story?!
But, I digress... which happens a lot when I speak about literature... I am simply trying to say that I am aware that there is an innate power within words, an ability to connect with characters and a need for storylines that do not shy away from the evil in our world whilst still ensuring we encourage the good. Perhaps this is my small written contribution to the world we live in and my way of using my talents to help those scales tip just a little bit towards good a little more every day.
© Lauren Noble for co|laboratory via 'Idiosyncrasies and Other Tendencies' | 2018
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