(2015- June) NWTC will host the 90th Luxembourg European Anglophone Theatre Summer School (LEATSS, formerly known as Munsbach) this year. We catch up with the School’s director, Graeme du Fresne, who returns for his 20th time!
How did you first hear about Summer School and when did you run your first course there?
I heard about and was asked to come by Anthony Cornish, the Summer School Director at that time and I first taught here in 1994.
What is the most challenging aspect of running Summer School and why?
A huge task I set myself is to find the right brand of work that will be offered by the tutors each year. I always try hard to find one new tutor as this breathes new life into the event. Also, as we have so many participants who return each year, it is essential to have new tutors each with new ideas, new ways of working which enables the school to continually evolve.
What do you find most enjoyable and why?
There is something extraordinary when someone finds out something about themselves they didn’t know they could do. You never know when these moments are going to occur and they can be quite a small thing yet, at the same time, have a profound and fundamental change within a person. I have known some participants for many years, yet I still see moments of epiphany. For example, one long-standing student found a way to release within himself a vulnerability and openness last year: it was incredibly moving and rewarding to witness and humbling to be a part of that of that moment.
What would be your dream programme to put on at LEATSS?
The dream would be that all you set out to achieve becomes a reality. From a purely selfish standpoint, it would be a dream for me to devote the whole week exclusively to Sondheim – well, most of the week anyway!
What do you hope students and tutors take away with them after the course?
It would be wonderful to think that all participants and tutors went home having had the most perfect uplifting and rewarding week. I always urge the tutors to remind each participant that some, if not all the processes, techniques and skills engaged with at summer school should be utilised with their home theatre groups.
In the UK, amongst other things, you teach at Italia Conti School of Acting. What is different about your experience of teaching at LEATSS?
There is a hunger amongst LEATSS participants that exceeds any experience I have known in the trainee actors’ environment or professional theatre. It inspires and drives me.
If you could sum up Summer School in three words, what would they be…?
Exhausting, enabling and exhilarating!