"My wife Kelli and I came to Shawnigan in 2003. Since then, the drama program has grown from strength to strength. The first year I taught, I only had one drama class. Quickly more classes were added until there was a full drama curriculum.Being able to see the curricular fine arts and after school arts programs grow and flourish because of such a strong group of talented teachers and instructors in the Arts Department has been really neat.
The best part about my job is I get to play every day. I get to offer a creative space for students to play and explore and to just let themselves be loose and silly, while learning so much about themselves and having their confidence grow daily. To see those that decide to stick with the performing arts beyond their mandatory classes and see them falling in love with it is pretty special. We always tell our students to always get out there and give their all. It doesn’t matter who you are on stage, or how far back you are, everyone is visible and people's eyes will be on you. To work with students for months and finally get to see everybody step out on stage and perform is always a spectacular feeling.
When I am looking for a new play or musical, I always try to choose things that will interest me, but that I hope will also interest the students and that will challenge them. I have done some very special plays over the years, with casts that I have just loved! Anytime I think about a play, I think about the special cast that was a part of it. All of my plays stand out for different reasons; I never forget them or the people that were a part of them.
“Noises Off” was a play that struck an emotional chord with me. I dedicated that play to my drama teacher from high school who had passed away. He was a well-known name in the British farce world, and he had his own theatre company that did a show regularly at the McPherson Playhouse. ‘Noises Off” was one of the plays that I saw him perform and I thought “Wow--that’s an amazing piece of theatre.” It’s hilarious, and well-written and put together. It is a complicated play with lots of physical acting. It’s very physically demanding and requires a lot of careful timing, so to see a group of teenagers put together something that was so challenging was very neat.
I also love to perform. I find performing gives me an appreciation of what it's like to be on the other side and reminds me how people react differently to directions. It makes you examine how you handle things, how you deal with people and how you run a production. I think being on the flipside of it now, I have such an appreciation for my high school drama teacher because he practiced what he preached. He got up and performed regularly. Before I went to high school I knew of him because I saw him perform on stage. I think that’s a key quality piece, and I think we see that in everyone in the Fine Art Department--how everyone is constantly practicing what they teach and how that is really appealing to the students.
One of the things I love most about my job is working with Kelli and being able to have my family around the school. My two boys have grown up inside the theatre and they are all the better for it. I think there are very few couples that could work as closely as Kelli and I do on a daily basis!
What’s special about Shawnigan? The community and the people, for sure. We work and play together and deal with adversities together. The current situation is a perfect example. Even though we all have to be distant, we are all working together to do what’s best for the students and what’s best for the School. I remember very distinctly when I left Shawnigan for two years to teach somewhere else for a bit saying that, wherever I was to go, it would never have the same sense of community as Shawnigan. It ended up being true, and that’s why I came back. I am proud of being a part of this fine institution and community. We continue to grow and progress and try to make ourselves better as staff and as a School each day.
Another thing I appreciate is our well-rounded education. I think we give our students as many opportunities to do neat and different things as possible. I think that’s where we have really succeeded over the years. One student told me that she never would have found her way into performing arts if she wasn’t encouraged to try something new and chose to do an after school art that led her to finding her new passion.
I hope when my students leave Shawnigan, they look back fondly. I think that everyone that has been in a show walks away with lasting memories from that show. I always hope they have had a great and transformative experience. That’s my hope--that students leave having had a positive experience in the arts and performing arts, and they will have those memories for the rest of their lives."
- Mr. Morgan McLeod (Director of Fine Arts & Activities, Head of Performing Arts, Fine Art - Theatre & Drama Instructor)