Staff Spotlight - Lorna Quinn
Every Friday we feature a member of our staff in our Staff Spotlight! This week, we spoke to Drama teacher Lorna Quinn about all things drama on the stage, screen, and in the classroom.
What interested you in teaching?
Growing up, I always thought I would become a teacher! My mum is a retired secondary school teacher, and I suppose seeing my mum go out to work each day inspired me to one day become a teacher too. I spent many a day playing school at home, correcting old copy books belonging to my brothers Colm and David and my sister Elaine! I even had a small blackboard. The signs were there! It was only a matter of time before I’d find myself actually teaching in a real school classroom, as opposed to our home dining room!
Why do you find teaching drama exciting?
I began drama classes when I was about twelve years old. I will never forget the effect it had on me. I felt like I had found my tribe! The sense of fun and play was unforgettable. I loved it! I just remember feeling so relaxed and at home within the drama classroom; watching my classmates perform funny improvisations and enjoying the spontaneity and freedom associated with the drama activities and games.
I see this amongst the students I teach in Alexandra College. It is a joy to see their immediate willingness to participate in improvisation scenes and drama activities. I watch the students prepare their acting scenes in the drama classroom, and it is so exciting to see their imaginations at work as they work together to create a scene to perform in class. They work so well together and are all so supportive and encouraging of one another’s work.
Teaching drama is so rewarding. For me personally, drama certainly helped me find my voice! Having the opportunity to play different characters and read fantastic lines of dialogue requires you to tap into different emotions/thought processes you may not normally find yourself. This allows us to build empathy and understanding for the characters we play, and also discover more about our own emotional and intellectual responses to a play or character. This whole process of character creation is hugely enriching and gratifying for students also. There is a real sense of accomplishment when all that preparatory work meets a stage, an audience or perhaps an external examiner to the school.
I feel so privileged to be able to teach drama. I am learning more and more each day. I strive to make my drama classes an exciting, fun and playful experience for the students, where they can learn and develop their performance skills in a relaxed and playful setting.
You also have a career acting both on stage and screen; what have been some of your favourite roles to play?
The role of ‘Elizabeth Bennet’ in Pride and Prejudice is a particular favourite. This production was performed at Dublin’s Gate Theatre. We also had the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong with this production for the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2015.
I also had the opportunity to play a character in Fair City called ‘Lucy Mallon’. This was very exciting, considering I grew up watching Fair City! To think I would actually be in this programme, was surreal yet wonderful! The character I played was complex and engaging. She continually kept the audience guessing and created a lot of drama whilst living in Carrigstown! This was a really special time and I am still in touch with cast members I worked closely with during my storyline.
What has been the highlight of your teaching career so far?
Wow! It is hard to name just one! To be honest, there are daily highlights. It is my fourth year working at Alexandra College now, and I feel I am really getting to know the students more and more. It is so rewarding to see your students’ progress and develop from year to year. Every class is different, and due to the nature of drama, the element of surprise and creativity is consistently present. I am continuously in awe of the colourful imaginations at work each day in the drama classroom and the sense of fearlessness and eagerness to participate in activities is truly wonderful to see.
For our Christmas productions last year in the Junior school, we performed Christmas with the Aliens and A Christmas Carol. They were both an absolute treat from beginning to end. What made these productions a highlight for me was the coming together of the Drama, Music, Art and Dance departments to create two very special shows with all the girls from KG Lower to J1 (Christmas with the Aliens) and from J2 to J6 (A Christmas Carol). The girls were all absolutely wonderful and they received such a lovely warm and supportive response from all their friends and family who came to see the shows last December. Ms. Lamplugh, the teachers, our TY Drama Reps and Lorenzo were so supportive, encouraging and helpful during all of our rehearsals and together, we all created two very memorable shows. It was a lovely way for us to conclude our second school term, and they definitely stand out as a very fond memory!
Why did you choose to join the Alex community?
I feel very privileged to be teaching in Alexandra College. I am so lucky to be part of a very vibrant and exciting Drama department team. Lynn Brehony, Clodagh Rycraft and Mairéad Crowley are all absolutely wonderful and so generous with their time, teaching resources and creative ideas. I have learned so much in the last three years working here and I continue to learn each day. The standard of drama and performance in the school is absolutely extraordinary.
Prior to joining the Alex community, I was aware that drama and performance is a huge part of the experience for students at Alexandra College. The school website showcased all of the amazing performance work to date. I was in absolute awe! It wasn’t long after I completed a theatrical run of Nöel Coward’s Private Lives at the Gate Theatre, that I got in touch with Lynn Brehony to express my interest in joining the Alex community. I was absolutely thrilled to be offered a place to teach in the school, and I still pinch myself when driving through the school gates each morning! It is hard to believe it is my fourth year now teaching in the school. Thank you!