If I go to a wedding reception and I’m on a table of people I don’t know I start off by suggesting that we make all the other tables wish they were with us. Shall we – I ask? I explain that it’s very simple – I count to three and then we all laugh our heads off. It’s always worked. It usually gets heads looking at us, but it also gets us all talking – like it was instant bonding because we did something together. Those people who would have felt self-conscious join in anyway because it’s the easiest thing to do and it loosens them up. I did it again recently at an international event and it certainly changed the atmosphere in the room.
Laughter is infectious and who doesn’t like a good laugh? Have you ever been at an airport and seen a group of friends having a good time. They are on a roll. They all listen to one so it goes quiet and then they all start to laugh. They eventually stop and someone adds something, and they are off again. I usually avoid these groups as I have no idea what they are talking about and I’m usually in a completely different mood, but it does make me smile.
At school I preferred those teachers who had a sense of humour. Their jokes and stories might have been corny, but they created an atmosphere that was fun and light-hearted, and you looked forward to going to their class. They were also the teachers that you would then work hard for. Teachers get used to meeting new classes and building a relationship with them. I remember one, in the days of blackboards, who would drive a little black painted nail into the board. Then when he met his new class he would talk about his magic chalk. “Look at this,” he would say drawing a tick on the board, “And see what it can do.” Whereupon he would take off his jacket and hang it on the tick which was of course the little nail.
It’s about creating a conducive atmosphere for working. I like to work hard but I like it to be fun. I like people to feel drawn close to the work but have a smile on their face. Having experienced grumpy teachers, boring teachers, and uncaring teachers I know which I prefer.
You get back what you give and Theatretrain teachers know that building that buzz between you and the class is absolutely everything.