Christchurch drama teacher retires after forty years on the stage

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David Chambers directing a school performance of Cats.

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David Chambers directing a school performance of Cats.

A Christchurch drama teacher is retiring after four decades of helping young people discover new skills, grow in confidence and “become more reflective, empathetic human beings”.

David Chambers started teaching at Aranui High School in 1978 and helped establish the first drama department at the school.

He moved to Christ’s College in 1998 and is now retiring as the school’s director of drama at the end of this year.

During those four decades he has produced over 100 shows.

Chambers said teaching drama was a vocation.

“Because I was useless at sport I never really fitted into high school,’’ he said.

“Then, when I went to university, I found I was quite good at drama. I realised that this could help all those people that get no satisfaction at school. I decided my reason for being was bringing boys to drama and drama to boys.

“Boys quickly learn its value … The exploration, experimentation, and experience of drama for boys is my vocation.”

Chambers, 66, said his job was not to create future stars, though many famous names have come through his drama departments, including actor Kim Chapman, Court Theatre regular Cameron Douglas and comedian Guy Montgomery.

“I see drama as a way of emboldening kids to learn,’’ he said.

“It engages kids in learning because it’s highly practical, they have to get up and take risks in front of other people. Drama teachers try and give them confidence to be able to stand up in front of a crowd.

“They can learn so much from their mistakes or from experimentation and exploration. And, as a result, they become more reflective, empathetic human beings.”

Chambers had hoped to spend his retirement experiencing theatre on London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, but the Covid-19 pandemic has so far altered his plans.

He said he will miss watching students grow.

“I can’t begin to describe how good it is to experience their development, their discoveries, their courage over the last 23 years.”



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