STAGE WORK: Brad Jennings in front of the set for Brisbane Girls Grammar School's Senior Drama Production.
STAGE WORK: Brad Jennings in front of the set for Brisbane Girls Grammar School's Senior Drama Production. contributed

Teacher brings drama to school

IF Maryborough-schooled Brad Jennings was having a bad day, he would shift himself into a world of drama.

Educational drama.

When Brad was one his parents bought a caravan park in Maryborough, then he moved to Noosa in Grade 4 and returned to Maryborough in Grade 10.

"I didn't really care much for school when I was living in Noosa.

"I was actually quite shy and did drama in Year 9 at Noosa and I was hopeless at it - I was really shy, I didn't really care and I wasn't great at it at all."

 

Senior student representative at Maryborough State High School, Brad Jennings.
Senior student representative at Maryborough State High School, Brad Jennings. contributed

As a shy Maryborough High student, Brad was encouraged by his English teacher, Peter Miles, to talk to drama teacher, Peter Schloff, who was a rugby playing drama teacher which he thought at the time was an absurd notion.

"Both of them encouraged me to give drama a go and I did, studying for two years in senior.

"I played some lead roles in musicals - not that I could sing to save myself - but I did decide to pursue it.

"I left home at the end of Year 12, I studied a double degree in drama and education in Brisbane.

"I actually wrote a couple of plays in uni - when I didn't know what I was doing - I wrote a third play in the final year at uni which was called Blow Out.

"I did my final prac teaching at boys school in Brisbane - I found there was a real distinct lack of relatable plays for all male casts so I wrote this play called Blow Out about these group of boys leading up to a rugby final and an after party where it kind of all goes down and comes to a head; and how they did with it. A lot of ideas around family, peer pressure and mateships and those kind of ideas."

When Brad finished uni he went up to Townsville with his partner, both working as teachers and was were he met Steven Maxwell.

"Steven and I started working on the play - I begged, borrowed and stole, making deals to get the show up.

"It was a big success, it was new because it was authentic - it was performed by young men. Even though I was working at one school I opened up auditions to all schools.

"It was a really great experience."

In 2002, Steven and Brad moved back to Brisbane, and established their own theatre company, Markwell Presents

"We focussed on innovative and educational cinematic theatre and combined our passions for drama and education.

"I spent more than a decade focusing on producing theatre and video design for Markwell Presents, and worked with numerous theatre companies, arts organisations and schools during that time developing skills in writing, direction, film and post-production."

When Brad's second daughter, Mabel, was born, he returned to teaching.

"It was during this time that I experienced the moment that made me realise I needed to return to teaching full-time.

"A little while later, I attended Girls Grammar's Senior Drama Production (2013), The Chosen, and was impressed by the quality and level of performance, and visible commitment from the girls.

"In 2015, I started at the school as a drama teacher, and eventually became head of co-curricular drama.

"My current roles afford me the opportunity to teach, while also working with students on our three annual drama productions; it is a challenging, inspiring and rewarding position.

"If I'm having a bad day, I'll arrive at rehearsal and my entire mood is shifted.

"I'm suddenly transported to another world; a world where the girls have transformed into their characters and are delivering performances that convey commitment, enthusiasm and a willingness to take a risk.

"It is a professional environment in which the girls are able to create theatre and, hopefully, develop a life-long passion for drama regardless of where their paths after school may lead."