Patch Theatre Company

Much of the philosophy of Extraordinary Kids, especially for drama, is so heavily influenced by a small children's  theatre company in Adelaide. A tiny company who punches way, way above her weight internationally. Most of it is due to a guy called Dave . It was always an incredible journey of self discovery working there  I remember doing a particular scene where I was a servant and i was to share my lunch with the king. ( I think the king had gone broke or something.) I gave the king this little brown box that contained brown bread and honey. "Brown bread and honey?????" said the king. “ Yes brown bread and honey.” I gave the box to the king.  But i gave it to him like I was handing over my ID as Dave patiently pointed out.  This helped me learn to imbue - To give value to something just by how you handle it.  

The way you hold the box it has to have a specialness. You have to hold it like it is something precious. I was so crap at that at first.

We do a simple exercise at EK where i ask Kids to pick up something from around the room and walk up to another kid standing in the circle and say “from me to you” The object of the exercise is to imbue a piece of fluff or a rag with incredible fragility and importance. 

Imbue. its one of my favorite words.. 


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Top 15 excuses for not doing your homework



15    I lost it fighting a kid who said you're not the best teacher in the world


14        I’m batman 


13    A kid borrowed it to copy it and didn't give it back  



12    We find didn't have any toilet paper and dad had a runny bottom  




11    I Posted it to you didn't you get it? Australia post these days.



10    oh it must have fallen out of my bag! What a shame. 




9    My dad forgot to do it for me.  




8    the wind blew it our of my hands. I chased it for hours.  That’s why I'm late too.  



7    I didn't want you to have to mark it. You work hard enough.  



6    You said “ do Questions 1 - 10” you didn't say bring it in! 



5    The cleaning lady threw it away. It was good too.


4    I got soap in my eyes and was blinded for the rest of the night.



3    I gave it to the emergency teacher. I hope she gave it to you 


2.     A: I use a solar powered calculator

    B: So What?

    A: It was cloudy   


1.     What homework?  

Why don't we teach humour in school?

Why don't we teach humour in schools? In some ways I think humour is one of the most important commodities around. If you make the receptionist laugh you’re much more likely to talk to his or her boss.  The best advertising campaigns i can think of all were really funny. Humour stays with you . You remember funny things for a long time. I know I’m constantly trying to preserve my funniest memories because i don't want to loose them. Don't you just hate it when you come up against some one who just has no sense of humour?  I don't remember a single lesson in school, even drama that talked about the awesome power of humour. 

This is for the singers and the teachers....

i believe whole heartedly that there is so much opportunity around at the moment. I look around me and see people with incredible life experience, incredible talent  and no where to go. I'm reminded of a documentary I saw about Russian pianists that could never leave the country. They couldn't make enough out of performing In Russia and they couldn't  leave, so they taught and then their best students couldn't make enough money performing, so they taught, and so on and so on. The best talent taught.  Their students had no where to go so they taught and their protégés were absolute freaks. It was like a little pressure cooker. Eventually the Berlin Wall came down and later communism fell and there was an explosion of Eastern European and Russian talent that infiltrated the Western world. And it shook the Opera world. Suddenly Covent Garden could employ world class singers for next to nix. All over the place wages fell. That’s the Readers digest version

 I was talking to a singer today who sang at Covent Garden who told me about  that very thing. He noticed that the work was disappearing for singers in London and all over Europe due to an explosion of singers from Russia, East Germany, Hungary etc. I digress. I personally over the arc of my tiny career can see so many amazingly talented people wasted. I think there is opportunity in harnessing the talent of those people who have achieved incredible things. There are people all around us who have incredible amounts of knowledge and experience and are just wasted. I think teaching should be built in to every profession. Every footballer should teach . every singer should teach. every what ever should teach to refine their skills and to pass it on to the next generation. 

getting over the fear hurdle

Last night I was in a restaurant and a local guest came up to our table and showed my daughter a magic trick. It was really some random person. Honestly who does that? Which one of us would think “ I know. Im just going  to walk up to that table of strangers, interrupt their conversation and show them a really crappy trick. It really was a bad trick.

 Then I showed my daughter an equally bad  magic trick and dared her to go back up to the man and do the trick for him. My daughter loved the trick  I could see that she really wanted to show the man  but fear was holding her back.  I am terrified of magic. I've had to do it a few time in shows and what not. I always think “no one’s going to believe this. Of course it’s a latex bottle that squashes down. I could understand why my daughter was scared to do the trick. After much cajoling she did it. She went back up to him and showed him the coin trick. Of course he pretended to be bewildered. Afterwards I could see the relief on her face. She said “wo. that was scary”


Scary yes but exhilarating too. I think those little  moments can be really big in life. Getting over that fear barrier can be a really big step. I remember being about 8 years old and there was a taking turns singing game in class.  It was my turn. the class sang to me and it was my turn to sing solo. I was paralysed with fear. I couldn't sing and I missed my go. I kicked myself all week. We played the same game in class  a week later and when it was my turn I summoned the courage from somewhere and sang. It really was a pivotal moment for me. Possibly life changing. What a relief. You couldn't shut me up after that 

Stanislavski and Snakes

Stanislavski and Snakes .


The story goes the  great acting teacher Stanislavsky had an exercise that he would do with his students that was a great way to decipher a student’’s aptitude for acting. He would place a jumper on a chair and the student would walk up to the chair pick up the jumper. Under the jumper is a snake! The  exercise only takes a couple of seconds but in Stanislavski's opinion you could tell in those few moments whether a pupil possessed the ability to be spontaneous and therefore could act. 


I do this exercise at Ek. Not to test kids aptitude for acting but because it's absolutely hilarious. Every kid who walks up to the chair takes off the jumper and then sees ( or doesn't see ) the snake cracks me up. Not just me the whole room packs up.  It reminds me of a game I used to love to play at dinner parties or where ever. A fake laugh competition. It sounds ridiculous i know but you sit with a small group and you take it in turns seeing who can do the most convincing fake laugh. When all eyes are on you it can be really hard to remember what  a genuine unselfconscious laugh is. The more  sincere attempt the funnier it is. 


The snake exercise is really hard because you also have to have no prior knowledge of the snake.  Walking up to a jumper knowing you are supposed to pretend to find a snake under it, that’s hard enough. To make that natural, to walk as if you have no prior knowledge of the snake. Then to genuinely sell that horrendous paralysing jolt of electricity that is the shock of seeing the snake is a tall order and utterly fascinating to watch.

I never get tired of it. 


There's an old film, Pretty Woman. It was the film that made Julia Roberts a big star. I remember when it came out I was studying acting and one of my mentors used to talk about a moment in the film when she opens a box and there's a surprise inside. In his opinion you could see her ability in that 2 seconds of the film.


 I did a commercial for Nintendo and they wouldn't show us the new product until we were in front of the rolling camera. They wanted to catch that genuine surprise and delight. I remember auditioning for  well known Australian comedian for a comic act he had written and he said right walk along acting cool trip over a bit and then recover all the while trying to keep your dignity. That was the whole audition.  



It’s amazing to me sometimes when you remember an actor in a film in a tiny role like Michael  J Fox in an American President. That tiny role was the catalyst for the whole series “Spin City”. Sometimes you'll say “that girl is so good in that commercial” and you are talking about a 10 second performance.  That’s why ( and I know I always bang on about this) Kids concerts needn’t be long.