What is a “Masterclass”?

On the last day of February this year, I gave a “Masterclass” at Central School of Speech & Drama. The idea was good – exploring Aeschylus’ The Persians. Edith Hall’s translation had brought the final lament powerfully to the fore for me. Reminding me of Muharram and other self-flagellation rituals, where the act of striking the body is much a call to remember a past hurt as it is to re-live the past pain.

Inevitably, I agonised for months, weeks and days before this, in turmoil about whether I’d rise up to expectations. And in the process, couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I had assembled a range of ideas to explore … forgetting to focus on the one key question: what did I want the students to gain/learn/experience by the end of the workshop?

So, while for me it was achingly exciting to be working on a text that shouted its contemporaneity across thousands of years, I left feeling faintly pretentious – I had let down the MA students I was working with…