CHAT Phillip Thrupp from Trinity College, London, was in Bangalore to interact with theatre practitioners and teachers
“As an examiner, I am there to find out what the student knows and not what they don’t know,” says Drama and Speech Examiner Phillip Thrupp, Trinity College London, who is here in the city to conduct a workshop and interact with theatre practitioners and teachers.
For Thrupp, who has trained at Exeter College of Art and the Hartly Hodder Studio, visiting India was a long cherished dream. “I’ve been to every single country in the world but it has always been my ambition to go to India. I was old enough to remember when it had its independence. In my part of England, people who had lived in India were coming back from it once it was no longer the colony of the British. As a child I would go to their homes and see these glorious carpets and artefacts from India and it made me want to see the country for myself. This is my third visit here and my first to Bangalore,” he says.
Thrupp, who in 1995 was appointed International Examination Co-ordinator for the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and has worked extensively on the development of their overseas centres in places such as Sri Lanka, Los Angeles, Zimbabwe, Spain, Kenya, Singapore, Cape Town, New York, The Netherlands and Australia, has certainly come a long way from the little fishing village he was born in. “My mother, was an ambitious woman and she felt that we would be disadvantaged if we spoke with the local accent of the village. It was a heavy accent and it concerned her hugely. So although she wasn’t particularly interested in theatre she to take me to what was known as an elocution teacher. I remember sitting in the lady’s house and my mother telling her that though she didn’t want any drama nonsense, she wanted her children to speak with a cut-glass English accent.”
Unfortunately however, much to his mother’s dismay, Thrupp got bitten by the acting bug in the short time he spent there. “There wasn’t much she could do about it,” he says. “ I had started to read Shakespeare and between the age of eight and 12 and had read all his plays. So I decided to try my hand at the profession. I joined what was then one of the most prestigious theatre companies in England and worked there as a dogsbody. I did everything from costumes to making tea, before finally managing to get on stage. It was exhilarating -- I did some extraordinary roles and met some extraordinary stars, the biggest named form that generation.”
He believes that his tryst with drama greatly contributed to his expertise. “You are limited if you only learn a language on paper,” he says. “You need to find the rhythm and flow of the language. Remember Shakespeare was meant to be played out.”
Though his stint in theatre was short lived “I saw so many people’s lives get destroyed by the anxiety that goes behind the scenes.” He went back to school and took a teaching diploma, taught for some years, before he moved on to examining. “I have been examining for 14 years now,” he smiles.
And one thing he insists on is this -- “I try to see that the student has an enjoyable experience, however much they end up scoring on paper. When a student comes in, they are vulnerable and you have to try very hard to bring out the best in them. If you don’t manage that, you have failed in what you set out to do.”