11 December 1937
DRAMA SCHOOL IN BELFAST
Ooh, I bet Irene Mawer was not pleased when she read this article printed in the Belfast Telegraph.
At the top of the article, the first word of the first line under the heading is ‘deportment’. I recall chatting with Ann Cornford, a Ginner-Mawer student during World War II, who riled at the assertion that the Ginner-Mawer School taught deportment. In this newspaper cutting, reading further down, we can see that the deportment actually applies to the way in which characters from different periods of history would have moved. So the first line ‘Deportment and Technique’ is mis-leading – that’s newspapers for you. Eighty-four years on, and nothing has changed.
What was actually happening, was that the Rural Development Council of Northern Ireland hosted a drama school, and Helga Burgess, of the Institute of Mime, gave talks on the study of technique, occupational mime, and expressive and character work. Then, during the evening, she took a session dealing with deportment for period plays, dramatic speech and vocal technique.
Miss Mawer does not seem to have been in attendance at this Drama School, and the only time I know of that she visited Belfast was in 1950 when she taught (what the newspaper termed) an elecution class there. I have never seen Irene Mawer herself refer to teaching ‘elecution’ though she actually did teach it as a subject when she returned to her old school (Putney High) as a teacher, her subject being ‘elecution’. This was September 1918-Easter 1921. Although she was a widow (Robert Dale was killed in action in WWI), Miss Mawer used her maiden name which she kept as her professional name all of her life, even after marrying Mark Perugini).
Irene Mawer led a full and useful life as a teacher of voice and drama, but is not yet recognised by the history books. Please comment, share, like this page so that the algorithms can more easily find her. Thank you.