Mrs. Sherratt fosters starpower as new drama teacher

Elaine Kuang, Staff Writer

The curtains rise, the lights shine, the performers are center stage, and the show begins. In the vast audience, her gratified smile and encouraging cheers swiftly brings her students confidence as they get ready to perform. This is a moment of glory for drama teacher Madeleine Sherratt, as she watches her proud students acting their hearts out after months of hard work. 

Mrs. Sherratt, who also casually goes by Mrs. S, is the director for the drama department of Ayala High School, though she had first applied for the job as an English teacher. After the departure of the previous drama teacher, Sherratt was given the opportunity to become Ayala’s new drama teacher for all levels of theater, including the additional advanced theater class, Production and Performance. Knowing that she was tailor-made for theater, she agreed in a heartbeat.

“After I applied, they asked if I would be willing to teach drama, and it was a no-brainer,” said Sherratt.

Sherratt’s arrival gave birth to the new drama department. Not only does she teach the students, she inspires them to discover their own character as well. Sherratt hopes that all of her students will develop the confidence to stand up on stage and, like her, find theater as a creative outlet for them to shine. 

I have always had a big personality,” said Sherratt. “Some – myself included – might even say that I’m borderline obnoxious. When I found theater, I found a place where the size of my personality actually served me well.”

The stage was like home to Sherratt; she was dazzling, madly in love with the feeling of landing a hilarious joke or sharing a powerful moment with the audience. It is because of her brimming passion for theater that brought Sherratt here today, in the classroom, behind the curtains, and on the stages of Ayala High School. 

Sherratt believes that the lessons and skills learned in theater are totally transcends even the class itself. Sherratt describes that when one reads classic works like The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, or The Crucible, they do not intimately connect and bond with the characters. One simply cannot put their own soul onto the characters and feel their struggles, happiness, or pain. 

“Theater is life on stage, and life is multidisciplinary,” said Sherratt. “You have to hold your head up as people scorn you, as they did to Hester, or cry that it is your name and that you can’t have another in this life as John Proctor did, or hear that your dream will never be a reality as Gatsby did. This is how you learn the lessons that these stories have to teach.

Although Sherratt and her students have not known each other for a long time, the feelings of bonding and a long-lasting friendship are mutual. Sherratt acknowledges all of their hard work and dedication, and to her, her students are the actors whom she admires the most. 

“They show up every day, ready to work, ready to improve, and ready to create something that their audience will enjoy,” said Sherratt. “They may go on to win [the] Oscars or Emmys, or like me, they may go on to live ordinary lives. Regardless, they are extraordinary to me.”

Sherratt is acutely aware of the fact that a majority of her students will graduate and leave her class, never wanting to act again. For them, she wishes that no matter what paths they decide to take, what career they choose to pursue, she hopes that the lessons they have learned in their theater class can transform into skills that will one day help them in the future. And for the remaining minority, Sherratt just hopes that her guidance can serve as their launching pads when they reach for higher theatrical achievements.

“Theater is an invaluable art form,” said Sherratt. “And in the words of the late, great Robin Williams…[it is] what we stay alive for.”