Geraldine Lazarus has always had a passion for theatre and the performing arts. She remembers her mother taking her to the Melbourne Town Hall to see the soprano Marjorie Lawrence when she was about seven. Geraldine had a very privileged childhood. She was lucky to have a grandmother, and an aunt as well as her parents who were also happy to take her to concerts, to the ballet, and the theatre.
Her experience as a seven year-old at Melbourne Town Hall is what motivated Geraldine to support and encourage initiatives designed for young people to participate in theatre today. Geraldine has been impressed by MTC’s work providing access to theatre for young people in regional and remote Victoria and Tasmania, but with her involvement we are able to give even more young people the opportunity to see theatre. ‘I’ve always felt that young people should have opportunities to learn more about how theatre works. It can only enhance their overall experiences into the future,’ she says.
MTC’s Regional Enrichment Program operates every May and is run alongside the annual tour of MTC’s education production, which in 2017 is Melbourne Talam. The workshops are designed to embed the experience of seeing the play, allowing high school students to directly analyse and engage with the themes, direction and staging of the production, and supports students’ own creative work.
As MTC continues to expand the tour of the education production into new regions, the appetite for these workshops grows. Students relish the experience with one commenting that the workshops ‘helped me feel connected to my acting’. Another said they were ‘educational and refreshing’, and had the benefit of ‘challenging me to think and analyse the text’.
In 2017, with very generous additional support from the Gailey Lazarus Foundation, which Geraldine runs with her husband Greig Gailey, MTC’s Education Department is about to embark on an exciting new project to extend the impact and reach of drama education in the regions. Responding to a need from high school Drama and English teachers a Train the Teacher Program will be rolled out in two regional centres, Bendigo and Mildura. In collaboration with Drama Victoria, MTC will co-create and present workshops for teachers to develop classroom skills and techniques to enable the learning to continue well after our regional tour wraps up.
For Geraldine, her support is about growing the audience of tomorrow, thereby, securing the existences and evolution of the art form into the future. Geraldine wants ‘young people to [have the opportunity to] see how life is acted out on stage’ and to inspire others to support theatre. ‘Not only by taking their own young people to the theatre themselves, but also by supporting these educational initiatives developed by the MTC’, she explains.
MTC thanks Geraldine and the Gailey Lazarus Foundation for the exceptionally generous support of MTC’s Regional Enrichment Program and Train the Teacher Pilot Program. We are truly inspired by her passion for transforming young lives through theatre.