Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School

From Class Plays to The Crown: A Handmade Tale

Our school tour on Tuesday August 7 drew 81 visitors to our Middle ove campus. Among that number was Gillian Menzies, a retired Kindergarten teacher from Michael Hall Steiner School just outside London. Her two sons went through Michael Hall school and are now well grown, one a lawyer working in Sydney and the other an actor in the UK. She is here in Sydney visiting her son and her granddaughter. She told me a wonderful story which deserves retelling.

Her other son is Tobias and on his journey through his Steiner school he was of course in all his class plays, from fairy tales to Norse myths to Shakespeare. He never once attended an acting or drama class for young people outside of school. Just before accepting a place at university, he decided to apply for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), one of the most prestigious theatre training schools in the world. He won a place, and went on to a stellar career in theatre, film and television. His latest role? He has just been cast as Prince Phillip in the second series of The Crown on Netflix. 

Yes a remarkable accolade for any actor, but the story is even more interesting for anyone involved in Steiner education. Gillian was so astonished her son had won a place at RADA that she called the director and asked him was he sure her son was really up to the standard they required? After falling about laughing (he said no mother had ever asked him that), he said on the contrary, Tobias did not have any of the baggage that so many “trained” actors have, all of which has to be stripped away. He was, he assured her, an “honest actor”, authentic and himself, ideal for building into the naturally powerful stage presence that he has become.

So parents, remember the class plays, so simple yet profound, could be a training ground for future greatness. The “handmade” quality of our class plays builds authenticity without glitzy glamour, depth with simplicity, and equips students with a naturalness than in the end will equip them for life.