Name: Clare Howdon
Job: Director of drama at The King's School
Lives: Higher Kinnerton
Education: Ellesmere Port Catholic High School (GCSE's and A-levels), West Cheshire College (BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts), University of Kent (BA Hons in Drama and Theatre Studies)
Family: Married to Jay with two children: Mollie, four, and Tom, 18 months
Mornings in our house run to military precision as we have to get both kids up, dressed, fed and off to nursery or nana’s before 8.30am. I drop my daughter Mollie off at her lovely preschool in Rossett before heading into work.
My time is usually split between managing and teaching curriculum drama, directing and producing the in house extracurricular productions and booking in professional theatre companies to the Vanbrugh Theatre. It’s pretty full on but immensely enjoyable and varied.
One day I will be sitting with my A2 students preparing for their drama written exam and the next day I will be over at Howarth’s Wrightson in Manchester choosing props for an upcoming production.
Since starting my role in 2013, I have directed productions including Oh What a Lovely War to mark the centenary of WW1, Hamlet and The Tempest for the Shakespeare for Schools Festival and the recent A Midsummer Night’s Dream alongside Ann Marie McMahon from the English department.
It was also very exciting in August 2014 to take a group of sixth formers to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform a run of Simon Stephen’s Punk Rock which had premiered at the Vanbrugh Theatre the previous year.
At the moment, I am sat at my desk scheduling in professional companies to visit the Vanbrugh Theatre next year. This is a huge perk of my job, as I get to see some fantastic productions and it is wonderful King’s students (and the wider community) have such innovative and high quality performances on their doorstep.
The A-level and GCSE drama students also have the opportunity to attend workshops with the companies who are in residence which they always enjoy immensely.
Liverpool-based physical theatre company Tmesis brought their production of That’s Amore to us last year which was hugely popular with the students so I am currently trying to get them back in next year to do their new show Happy Hour. I am also thrilled to be bringing one of my favourite theatre companies Idle Motion to the Vanbrugh Theatre in October of this year with their new show Shooting with Light.
A major part of my day is also liaising with our fantastic theatre technician Stuart Mannix, who deserves a medal for putting up with my many requests and whims. In all seriousness, I wouldn’t be able to do my job without his ongoing enthusiasm, support and amazing knowledge of all things technical!
If I don’t have rehearsals, I usually finish work about 5pm and head over to pick up Mollie. My husband Jay picks up Tom and we meet up at home. I will bath the kids whilst Jay makes dinner, followed by bed time stories and sleep!
What do you wear to do your job? I have to get the balance right between smart and comfortable, as I am often jumping around the lecture theatre, partaking in a physicaltheatre lesson. Usually, I wear black trousers, a relatively smart top and flat shoes (always flat shoes!)
What is the favourite part of your job? I love working with the students on productions and as crazy as it sounds, I really enjoy the technical and dress rehearsals for a show. It’s lovely to see the various components of the performance come together and there is always a great buzz amongst the students at this stage.
What is the least favourite part of your job? Paperwork is not always my strong point!
What would be your dream job if you weren’t doing what you do now? Artistic director of the National Theatre.
How do you relax when you are not working? Spending time with Mollie and Tom or with a good book or TV series. I am currently obsessed with House of Cards. I am also starting to get back into running which is always good for destressing.
What is your favourite film? I will never tire of Withnail and I although I recently saw The Big Short which blew me away.
What is your favourite book? 1984 by George Orwell.
What is your favourite song? Ah there are too many to choose from. I will go with On top of the World by The Carpenters which was technically my mum’s favourite song, but it reminds me of her every time I hear it.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? Julianne Moore. She looks nothing like me but she is my favourite actress so it would be a good way to get to meet her.
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet? I was on Hollyoaks. Does that count?
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