Thanks to our amazing drama teachers
The last 3 weeks have been extremely busy for me because I've been contracting all our teachers for next term. As you can imagine, with over 200 schools and currently 208 teachers working for Perform, this is no easy task. It also demands quite a lot of concentration, so the mince pies and gingerbread lattes have been helping with this too!
Because we now have quite a few schools, many people think that Perform is franchised like most other drama, dance and singing organisations. But we aren't. Everything is centrally run and we are very specific about the sort of teacher who works for us - specifically, we only pick the fabulous sort. Which is why I actually really enjoy the contracting part of my job, because it means that I get to talk to them all.
It's not easy to get to be a Perform teacher. Simon Fielding (our Regional Partner) and I audition around sixty actors on the first Monday of every month. We ask them to prepare and play a drama game for us. If they get through that round, they have to learn and perform a dance routine, and if they get through the dance round, they have to sing a song and then have an interview with us.
We make no apology for the gruelling process we put them through. Not only do they have to be able to act, sing and dance, they also have to demonstrate that they'd be brilliant with children. We are normally left with about five people! X Factor is tame compared to Perform.
The successful people are invited to two days of training where they learn the Perform teaching style and, if they are successful, they watch workshops and then, with the support of an Area Partner, can start cover-teaching for us. Obviously, all the normal CRB and reference checks are made too.
Part of the beauty of being centrally run and not a franchise is that we all have the same curriculum - so at the moment everyone is madly learning our Circus and Hercules Beat Resources for next term. Check out our Lion Tamer and Hercules Beat dance videos!
This means that, if any of our talented teachers get acting jobs (and they do), it's not catastrophic as the person we put in their place will be equally brilliant and will also know exactly what to do in class because we all follow one programme. From the children's point of view, yet another fun person comes to teach them.
You might see your Perform Teacher at class at 4pm and then on Eastenders at 7.30pm and, whilst we try as much as possible to keep consistency, I'd rather Perform children be taught by inspirational and talented actors who might get jobs because of their skills, than people who aren't so special. I've heard too many scary stories of am-dram loving retired bank managers buying theatre school franchises and that is not the way of Perform.
The big question that parents always ask me is ?How do you get your teachers to be SO ENTHUSIASTIC?? And anyone who has ever been to a Perform class will agree that our teachers love what they are doing. After all, how could you not be enthusiastic when you are acting, singing, dancing and playing crazy games with a gorgeous group of children?
Sometimes actors have to do boring jobs when they are ?resting', so I think they feel privileged to be passing on their love of theatre to children - practising their own performing skills every day by singing, dancing and playing colourful characters in improvisations. Some use it as a time to practice their accents so, if you see a teacher playing an Irish character in class, you might find they have to use an Irish accent for an audition the following day!
However, their common bond is not only their talent and work ethic, it's how much they love and enjoy working with children. They are passionate about helping children develop the Perform 4 Cs and this really shows in the classes.
As it is our end of term, I'm watching a different presentation every afternoon at the moment. And I must confess, I'm not just proud of all the brilliant Perform children, I'm also thrilled at the most fantastically talented and caring teachers that teach them at Perform. A big thank you to you all.
And if you know anyone who might be an amazing Perform Teacher, please ask them to send us their CV. We'd love to hear from them.