The Vault

Alexander The Play

The Off Broadway Production

Maggie Young

 

Alexander The Play had its world premiere in FM's birthplace— Wynyard, Tasmania on the 15th of July, 1994 to coincide with the Congress in Sydney. The play was performed at Mare's Place, a restaurant in Wynyard which had originally been Studert's General Store in Alexander's day. The audiences were made up of Alexander teachers from USA, England and Sydney for the four performances, as well as local residents, who were more than a little surprised to discover that F.M. Alexander was Wynyard's very own famous son.

What the play is about, the story of its making, and the response of local Wynyard people were all fascinating aspects I would like to share with Alexander teachers.

Alexander The Play traces the story of F.M. Alexander from his early years in Wynyard to his 80th birthday celebrations in London. It was devised as a series of sketches linked with recitations, songs, a puppet show, and FM's aunt Annie reading some of his many letters to her in Wynyard.

The audience was surprised and delighted to find itself seated at tables, sharing a meal with one of the nine actors—either Bernard Shaw, Lillee Langtry or even FM himself.

The making of the play was particularly exciting because my co-writer, Ian McFarlane, and myself, decided to research every early influence that must have inspired Alexander. The idea was to celebrate both Alexander and his place of birth as well as to convey the essence of the Technique in a theatrical form. We discovered that, rather than being a lonely colonial outpost, Wynyard in the late 1800's was a hot bed of cultural activities with interesting people from exotic places living here.

The local community soon became involved by offering information, stories, photos—even a rare booklet, written by FM, turned up.

Alexander's relatives seem to pop up from everywhere and even Kit Hiller, the artist who designed and donated the play's poster, turned out to be related to Alexander. The play seemed to be writing itself and always had a life and a momentum of its own, furthered by the local Wynyard people.

The process of rehearsals was a great learning experience in terms of the Alexander Technique. Only four of the nine actors had had previous acting experience and I soon began to realise that we were carrying on an Alexander tradition of turning students into performers by exposure to the Technique. Speaking and listening to Alexander's inspiring words and some having Alexander lessons meant that the actors were able to perform very easily and naturally. It soon became hard to tell who were the original 4 actors with experience! Everyone involved felt it was a rewarding and an enriching process and were able to experience beneficial changes in their lives.

Alexander The Play was a great success in Wynyard and again in Launceston, where we were invited to perform at the Queen Victoria Museum. Again we had an appreciative and responsive audience. Local reviewers commented on this play being real community theatre, and it was. It was an opportunity to celebrate their own history and to discover the importance of F.M. Alexander and his work throughout the world.

EDITOR'S NOTE

Maggie Young produced and co-wrote a play on Alexander's life that was performed in a theatre restaurant in Wynyard, Tasmania. Performances were given both before and after the Sydney Congress.

BIOGRAPHY

Maggie Young has an MA in Theatre Studies from the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She graduated as an Alexander teacher in 1986 from the Sydney Training School at Milson's Point. She has been a drama teacher in both primary and high schools. She has been involved in a local clown/circus troupe, Hellyers Angels, and is currently in charge of a small school in an Aboriginal community in the Outback of Australia.

  Bookmark and Share