Update - 10:30am

Mon 11 Dec - MAC will open at 9am this morning and close at 3pm, all courses and events after this time have been cancelled. 

© Kate Green

News

MAC welcomes Adrian Lester OBE

MAC supporters, old friends and colleagues enjoyed an evening with Adrian Lester OBE in MAC's theatre recently (26 Oct).   A gifted, award-winning actor, writer, director and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Adrian gave an open and frank interview, conducted by playwright, drama lecturer and MAC board member Stephanie Dale.

Recalling aspects of his education, his early enjoyment and access to the arts at MAC, leading to his illustrious career, it was an opportunity for theatre-lovers, emerging actors and those who respect his long career in TV and film to hear his views on the importance of arts education, diversity in the arts and his future plans.

Commenting on his school and MAC experience he compares the two thus: ' Our school wasn't a good place for the arts. We didn't do singing, we didn't do dance, I didn't ever read a play in a classroom, a Shakespeare play or anything like that. You didn't either? [Responding to audience comment]. So whatever I learnt to do with the little talent I was showing at that time, had to be done out of school. To the consternation of my Mum, because I never did any homework, she's here tonight I'm confessing that. And so I would come here [MAC] in this place I did my first martial arts class, I did my first dance, I sang I was a singer in the choir, I joined the children's opera company here. They knew me so well here, that I could come along without booking a time and if one of the rooms was free I was then allowed to use the room and I would practice helicopters, headspins and backspins and coffee grinders - these are all break dancing terms.'

He later talks about the stumbling blocks he faced while performing Shakespeare and how he and his wife,actress, director and writer, Lolita Chakrabarti, introduced the Bard to young people in Coventry,while making the point that the arts belongs to everyone and the importance of making it accessible for all.

He commented: ' Take Shakespeare to them first...whenever I've worked with young people on any Shakespeare play once you've given them context the rest is easy. If you start off talking about beautiful language here or you start reading it around the class and you've no idea of who's saying what to whom or why, it just gets boring. But if you start by talking about context then you get them. You get them, whoever they are you get them. 

basically if you enter with context, you can do that with Henry V, you can do that with Macbeth, ooops we're in a theatre! You can do that with Othello, any play at all - start with the context and then introduce character and then introduce the language. I think you will hook people, we have to do that because our arts are...our artists take care of our culture. No artists no culture, for anything, the clothes you're wearing, your shoes, who came up with the design, who came up with them looking the way they do, the jackets you have, the music you will listen to on the way home. Artists, artists, artists, and if they're British made, British born, British sound, then it is part of British culture,  take care of it, you lose it and you start adopting that culture from somewhere else. And that's why I think it's important to pass those things on. Our young people are not, do not have open access to all of those pillars of culture, dance, art, visual arts, singing you name it music, if they do have open access to that then you only have to wait a generation before that particular art form starts to die. 

On the issue of diversity within the arts Adrian said: 'I think things are improving across the board,  the kid that I was, that kid now looking watching television, going to the theatre, going to the cinema, they will see that they are included, they can see that they can do those jobs,  because they're there, there are those people they can admire and they're British. And I think it's changing and it's changing for the better. I think it would be nice as we've got a foot firmly on the pedal of diversity issues, and feet under the tables at the BBC and license fees etc and all of those things, it would be nice to see if that change is sustained when we take our foot off the gas. And we don't have those meetings, at the moment I don't think that would happen, but I look forward to the day when it will.'

To see the interview in full see the Youtube link below.

To read the transcript - download the link below.

Our school wasn't a good place for the arts. We didn't do singing, we didn't do dance, I didn't ever read a play in a classroom, a Shakespeare play or anything like that. You didn't either? [Responding to audience comment]. So whatever I learnt to do with the little talent I was showing at that time, had to be done out of school. To the consternation of my Mum, because I never did any homework, she's here tonight I'm confessing that. And so I would come here [MAC] in this place I did my first martial arts class, I did my first dance, I sang I was a singer in the choir, I joined the children's opera company here. They knew me so well here, that I could come along without booking a time and if one of the rooms was free I was then allowed to use the room and I would practice helicopters, headspins and backspins and coffee grinders - these are all break dancing terms.'

Adrian Lester OBE,commenting on his early years at MAC

 'I think things are improving across the board,  the kid that I was, that kid now looking watching television, going to the theatre, going to the cinema, they will see that they are included, they can see that they can do those jobs,  because they're there, there are those people they can admire and they're British. And I think it's changing and it's changing for the better. I think it would be nice as we've got a foot firmly on the pedal of diversity issues, and feet under the tables at the BBC and license fees etc and all of those things, it would be nice to see if that change is sustained when we take our foot off the gas. And we don't have those meetings, at the moment I don't think that would happen, but I look forward to the day when it will.'

Adrian Lester OBE, commenting on the issue of diversity in the arts.

Transcript - An evening with Adrian Lester OBE, interviewed by Stephanie Dale