Dramatic solution to social ills

2018-07-24 06:00
Larey Marks from Strandfontein.PHOTO: Samantha lee

Larey Marks from Strandfontein.PHOTO: Samantha lee

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“I want people to choose the arts rather than negatives like gangsterism. It is so sad when I see someone I have worked with heavily addicted to drugs. The young children have nothing to do and so they choose gangsterism. My slogan is ‘Get off the streets and get on the stage’.”

Passionate about people, drama and developing talent, Larey Marks returned home after 18 years working in the Middle East to plough back into the community.

“I taught languages at Glendale High School for 13 years where I also started an amateur drama society. I left Glendale in 1996 and went to work as a manager at a supermarket, which I hated,” he says.

He was then unemployed for a while, before divine intervention brought him back to teaching.

A teacher at Glendale High School saw him in a vision and called him in to inform him of an opportunity to teach in Kuwait.

“I never thought I would leave South Africa. When they told me I got the job, I asked ‘where is that?’. I had never heard of it before,” he says.

“I needed God to show me where my true passion was. It was divine intervention.”

On his first day at his new job at the International Academy of Kuwait, he was meant to teach English Second Language, but as luck would have it, the principal at the time had the desire to start a drama programme and looked for someone among the staff willing to run the programme.

While reluctantly sticking up his hand, unknown to him at the time, it would change the course of his career for good.

“I knew nothing but I just had an epiphany. It was time to come home,” he says.

Although not classically trained, his love for the arts has grown and developed from a young age.

“It all started in District Six where I was born. I would take all the children in the street to the cinema every Saturday. My passion for performance came from the cinema but at that point I thought it would pass,” he says.

“I always loved the stage and as a dancer, when I was at university I joined a ballroom club. I was cast in Westside Story and that was my first production.”

Since then, he has taught drama at two schools abroad and become an examiner as part of the British Drama Syllabus.

During his tenure he has put together 30 productions and learnt a great deal about the arts.

Now on his return, he wants to give back to the community by opening his own drama studio called Lamarr Amateur Drama Studio, aimed at developing talented youth from Mitchell’s Plain.

“There is so much talent here. I want to teach them more in depth about drama terms and techniques,” he says.

Ages for his productions will range from primary school to over 70 and no formalised training is required – only a talent and interest in the stage.

“I want to start at 12 because we must get them on the stage and off the streets before they see gangsterism as the only option. Also, I love seeing them grow from primary school to adult performers,” he says.

Once it is up and running and launched later this year, his goal will be to run three shows per year.

His journey has come full circle with classes and sessions being hosted at Glendale High School.

“I want to create a family or community of scriptwriters, choreographers, set makers and everyone it takes to put on a great show,” he says.

He has already started working on a show that he is confident will make it to the West End following his staging on the local scene.

For his reintroduction, he will host A Homecoming Show in the form of a variety show, directed by him, at Glendale High School on Saturday 4 August at 20:00. Tickets cost R30 per person and auditions for talents across all ages and genres of music, dance and acting will be held as part of the production.

V Auditions will be held at Glendale High School from Wednesday 25 to Friday 27 July from 16:00 to 19:00 and on Saturday 28 July from 10:00 to 14:00.V For more information, call Larey Marks on 021 393 1354 or 081 801 2545.

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