The new Head of Drama and Artistic Director of MYTC, who has taught and produced drama in three top UK independent schools, traded London for Perth at the start of the year. Prior to his roles at Christ Church, Mr Stocker was the Head of Drama at Alleyn’s School in London as well as the Chairman of the National Independent Schools’ Drama Association.
Mr Stocker said the move presented a challenge and that the best jobs in drama often came just once. He could not ignore it. “Drama has an important role in the cultural life of Christ Church and I was impressed by the School’s concern to develop boys’ full potential within ethics of respect for others,” he said. “Drama is an art form that depends on building empathy for others and developing well-rounded creative, emotionally and intellectually intelligent young men.”
Since graduating from college, his work as an actor, director and teacher has taken him around the world on projects in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Los Angeles, New York, Seville and to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - 11 times. Among the Fringe shows were eight student productions, several of which were given five-star reviews by the media and described as “West End standard”.
Mr Stocker said he had the privilege of working with many talented students. “These are the ones who are exposed to risk in front of an audience of their peers and families and it is their own resources and talents that they must ultimately rely on bringing a show to life,” he said. “Students must experience ownership of the creative process if they are to make significant progress.”
He said that six years with the English Shakespeare Company, as well as a variety of smaller theatre companies, had given him a conviction that boys should brave commitment to a variety of aesthetic styles including ‘mainstream’ and cutting edge approaches.
Mr Stocker’s passion and talent is very much in the family genes. His great grandmother was English stage and screen actress Athene Seyler, who co-starred with Ingrid Bergman in Inn of the Sixth Happiness and appeared in TV series The Avengers; his great grandfather was actor and producer Nicholas Hannen; and his grandfather was English theatre and screen actor George Benson, who was noted for his early comedic work and roles in the Hammer Horror films.
He is most ably supported in his new role by “costuming queen” and Midnite secretary Jay Brien; production manager “extraordinaire” Dean Morris; new drama teacher and Midnite director Emma Leadon; from the Prep School, Year 7 drama and cultural studies teacher Angela Perry; and from the Scottish Youth Theatre, in a joint role as renta and visiting director, Craig Steele.
Mr Stocker’s first production as MYTC Artistic Director will be his own adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The String of Pearls, from 23 to 26 June, in the Drama Centre. “Prepare to squirm in your seats!”