Old Pocklingtonian 2019/2020 - Page 29


The school bids farewell to the following staff :
Helen Andrews ( 18-20 ), Chemistry Catherine Baines ( 07-20 ), French and German Frances Clifford ( 18-20 ), Mathematics Cathie Dance ( 06-20 ), Music ( Prep ) Alan Heaven ( 85-20 ), Drama Elaine Rutherford ( 14-20 ), EAL Holly Shand ( 15-19 ), Mathematics Ian Wright ( 09-20 ), Headmaster ( Prep ) Wendy Wright ( 08-20 ), German and Spanish
NON-TEACHING : Luisa Garcia ( 18-20 ), MFL Lynn McTernan ( 06-20 ), Catering Iain Pinder ( 07-20 ), Catering Emma Robertshaw ( 18-20 ), PE and Games Toby Sefton ( 18-20 ), Administration Paul Stone ( 17-20 ), Domestic Services Jane Storey ( 13-19 ), Nursing Team
After 35 extraordinary years inspiring Pocklington ’ s pupils , theatre-goers and colleagues alike , it is time to say the fondest of farewells to Alan Heaven , the school ’ s longstanding and inspirational Head of Drama . Right from the moment of his arrival in 1985 , Alan was determined to create a culture where every child could experience the joy of theatre and where the arts were valued and celebrated . Out went Charley ’ s Aunt and in came the Mysteries with biker-jacket , chainsaws and rock music . As Mark Rowe ( former Head of English ) reflected on Macbeth ( 1991 ) “ There was a wall of blood-stained blankets ; a wailing chorus of didgeridoos ; Macbeth ’ s feast enlivened by belly-dancing ... It ’ s difficult to convey the salutary shock this had on a rural public school in the late ‘ 80s and early ‘ 90s !”
In the early ‘ 90s ( and apparently in the face of some considerable opposition at the time !), Alan set up the drama department proper , introducing first A-level Theatre Studies and then GCSE Drama . His creativity and flair continued to inspire pupils both within and beyond the classroom , with OPs gaining places at RADA , Cambridge Footlights and Rose Bruford as well as on numerous drama and theatre university courses . But just as importantly , his inclusive approach ensured that all pupils , whether or not they were a budding thespian , gained confidence and had fun through drama , as this OP sums up perfectly : “ Alan Heaven was one of those teachers you never forget . A lesson with him was never dull , nor was it predictable ! To be in his presence was to feel inspired and infected with creativity , teaching us not just to act and read plays , but to love the arts and push the boundaries .”
His playful , innovative approach to drama including his notorious end of term hide and seek games delighted all . Those who have attempted to venture through the Tom Stoppard Theatre ’ s maze of corridors to Alan ’ s office no doubt will have spotted book shelves full of classics adorned with quirky objects , amongst them : the infamous dolphin biscuit tin pupils still fight over to this day , a Thomas the Tank Engine toy which happened to ‘ choo choo ’ during an A level examiner ’ s meeting ; a black rat poised suspiciously over the admin board !
Alan ’ s unique take on life is a breath of fresh air and his sharp wit , intellect and creative genius have clearly equipped pupils with life skills which go way beyond any exam syllabus . Of course , running a theatre is not without its backstage drama and , as Artistic Director of the Tom Stoppard Theatre , Alan is no stranger to running on adrenaline . In fact , his ability to keep a cool head in the midst of chaos is truly remarkable . Over the years the department has dealt with toppling sets , missed cues , fainting students and one particularly memorable occasion when a lighting desk malfunctioned just hours before the grand opening of the theatre by Sir Tom Stoppard himself ! Thankfully , it was resolved with minutes to spare and the show went on , with Sir Tom placed firmly in the ( now fully operational !) spotlight .
Credit must go to Alan for placing the creative arts centre stage at Pocklington School and inspiring all who trod the boards under his watch . Over the years , Alan ’ s passion for political , physical and street theatre characterised many of his productions : ‘ Government Inspector ’, ‘ Oh What a Lovely War ’, and ‘ The Hatfield Threepenny Opera ’ are particularly memorable . The latter was the first full-length piece of documentary theatre ever produced by the school and his decision to set the play in 1984 , in the midst of the miners ’ strike was a stroke of genius . In 2017 , he reworked Orwell ’ s , ‘ Animal Farm ’ into a parable of our times . This visceral and fast Alan Heaven moving interpretation saw boiler suit-wearing students represent the animals to the backing of gospel and chain gang music . This outstanding production provoked audiences to reflect on the nature of tyranny , oppression and inequality through shocking , emotionally charged images and action . Not your typical school production , but typically Alan .
Unsurprisingly , Alan ’ s passion for theatre often took him beyond the confines of the school walls . His innate ability to win people over and instil a sense of community spirit characterised many of his successful collaborations with the wider community . His highly innovative 2006 school production of The York Mystery Plays was a huge triumph , resulting in an ensemble going on to create a joyous version of the Pentecost in the Mystery Play cycle in York itself to much critical acclaim . Further collaboration and sponsorship with The Merchant Adventurer ’ s Guild in York resulted in Pocklington School producing ‘ The Last Judgement ’ in 2010 , 2014 and 2018 . Staff , OPs and the East Riding Raven Morris dance troupe produced amazing street theatre with a ‘ spectacular finale ’ ( to quote the Daily Mail !).
In addition to his theatrical successes , Alan boasts an impressive academic background publishing two prize-winning essays on Shakespeare and Brooke in the ‘ 80s , a paper on dyslexia in the ‘ 90s and various stories in sci-fi magazines . More recently , he published ‘ The Potters ’ Pageant of Pentecost ’ in M . Rogerson ( ed .), ‘ Interpreting the York Mystery Plays : Words and Music ’ ( Sydney : University of Sydney Press , 2010 ). He has also just been awarded a PhD titled , ‘ The soul of lively action : instructing movement in the comedies of Nathan Field ’, from York University . Congratulations Dr Heaven !
The old saying ‘ if you want something done , ask a busy person ’ is never truer than with Alan , as he also managed to find the time to run his own successful theatre group , Kissing Gate Theatre Company , for which he wrote and directed an updated version of Moliere ’ s Hypochondriac , and Alice in Wonderland in Bunraku Puppet-style , with the latter described as ‘ outstanding , intellectual , intelligent and entertaining ’ ( York Evening Press ).