Interview with David Gibson and Luke Prodromou
On a warm Greek Saturday afternoon, I met my two champions, David Gibson and Luke Prodromou. David is a teacher and teacher-trainer and has also worked as an examiner, team-leader, and inspector for a major examining board; he has now retired from active duty. Luke is a teacher, author, teacher trainer, and has also been an examiner for Cambridge and an item writer for the kpg exams. And I mention just a few of the things they have done so far. But they both agree that their brainchild, The Dave’n’Luke project, is their most important work as yet.
When asked how long their cooperation has been going on, they were happy to say they met a long time ago, teaching at the British Council of Thessaloniki, Greece. David joined the British Council in 1987 where Luke was already working and performing in the Bits and Pieces theatre group with other teachers and students, which resulted in the publication of a book of original sketches. When this ended they formed the Teachers' and Students' Theatre Group putting on full-length plays by established playwrights. Since then, they had been working in the same town, each always promoting drama. There was a short period when they didn’t see each other much but, when David retired, they got together and somehow the idea of forming a project to write and perform based on drama and literature cropped up. They had the idea of getting a group of interested people together to revive Bits and Pieces and perform in support of the Disabled Access Friendly Campaign. After the initial meeting, the others dropped out and so it was just Dave and Luke. And it’s been fruitful since. Since December 2010 they have performed at teachers' conferences, in schools, colleges, and universities all over Greece, and, to date in ten other countries - more than sixty performances.
Then I asked them what they hope to accomplish through their project. Well, they said, first the obvious sheer pleasure they have working on their materials, rehearsing them and presenting them, plus the enjoyment of the warm welcome and positive response they receive whenever and wherever they perform. An educator, they pointed out, must be inspired by what he/she does in order to inspire others. And they do entertain their audiences and thus inspire them, since entertainment is not merely laughter but also food for thought. And they’re happy when they get people to think. A further reason why they do it is that they want drama to be transferred to the classroom, as drama is interactive, interpersonal, it is live –not a text, it promotes language acquisition as it gives learners the chance to use language and vocabulary in context, glean meanings in a real life situation, fathom the nuances of stress and intonation and so much more. From body language and gesture to the very simple learning of new vocabulary, dramatising it helps. More often than not, drama has proven the catalyst that turned a poorly performing learner into a star. And the benefits of using drama in the classroom have been observed, scientifically analysed and results of such studies have been presented in many an international conference.
Finally, I asked them where they get their inspiration from: “Each other “, they both replied . They are both men of extensive education, reading, interests as wide as music and the theatre to football and so on, life is their stage and from life they get their ideas. They meet , exchange ideas, like some, discard some or put them aside for the time being, then choose some, brainstorm, consider factors such as “ Do we like it?’ , “Will they like it?’ And as soon as they’ve made up their minds, they get down to writing. While writing, they make changes. At times one of them may write half the dialogue while the other will contribute just the one sentence .At other times it will come spontaneously to both of them. It is the very fact that they really communicate at a deep level -they know each other this well-that allows them not to compete but rather complement one another.
Listening to them both, and feeling the passion they have for teaching- because educators they are first and foremost – enriched me as a person, as their presentations and performances have through the years .And naturally, they have encouraged me to keep pushing to become a better teacher, to keep learning, to discover ways to be inspired and inspiring, what they themselves have been through time. Dave and Luke-and the order is purely alphabetical- you are my champions. Thank you!