Principal plays many parts in life – including actor and celebrant

Sharren Read is a busy person. She’s a principal, an actor, a director, a celebrant, a family woman and a friend to many people. Taranaki Community News caught up with her ahead of opening night of one of her latest plays, The Importance of Being Earnest.

Hi Sharren. You’re a school principal who has a love of theatre. Can you tell us a little bit about those two elements of your life? 
I have been involved in education and theatre many years. I first performed on stage in 1962 and started teaching in 1976. I majored in teaching drama when I was at Teachers College – I have always managed to include both in my life. I think it’s what gives me balance.

I am currently a principal in a time that is very challenging for the education sector. You can imagine how stressful my working life can be, as schools reflect all aspects of our communities. It is also challenging being involved in theatre. They both demand commitment, energy, creativity and being part of a team.

Sharren is the principal of Waitara Central School and loves seeing her kids smile.

They both also give tremendous rewards. The smile a child gives you when they know they have learnt something new, or they have done the right thing is priceless. Theatre takes me away from my working world and allows me to be part of developing a story to share with others. Theatre and family is what feeds my soul.

And what do you like to do when you’re not busy with school or theatre?
I have a large family so family time is always precious. I love reading, in fact I love anything to do with the written word, except crossword puzzles – I hate them. I love cooking and baking. We have just started having regular family pot luck dinners with a theme, the last one was Moroccan and we have a Spanish one coming up – shall I cook some tapas or a big dish of paella?

I’m also a celebrant and enjoy meeting couples who are preparing for their marriages. Although lately I seem to have conducted more Celebration of Life services than weddings. There is something deeply moving about helping families at this very sad time and it is very satisfying knowing you have helped them. 

Sharren’s role as a celebrant sees her not only marry couples, but also lead celebration of life services.

At the moment you’re rehearsing for the next play coming up at Cue Theatre in Inglewood. Can you tell us about that? 
I feel very privileged to be playing Miss Prism in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.

This is a play I studied 50 years ago at school. It is Wilde’s most popular play.  It has very clever dialogue and I think it is very funny.

Under the direction of Warren Bates this wonderful play comes alive in a way that I am sure will stay with audiences for a long time to come. Warren’s vision and his skill as a director has meant that as an actor I have had to work harder than I have ever had to work before (and happily so) to portray a character.

My only regret is I will not get to sit in the audience and watch it.

If you could throw a dinner party with any three people from history, who would you pick, and what would you talk about? 
Queen Victoria – What’s the most spontaneous thing you ever did? If you had one day left on earth and could do anything you wanted – what would it be?

Charlotte Badger – she was believed to be one of the first European women to settle in New Zealand. What was the most important skill you had? What would your perfect day look like?

Marilyn Monroe – What is the silliest thing people ever said about you? What movie would you watch over and over again?

Sharren Read, far left, says theatre is an incredibly important part of her life.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 
Do not look down on people unless it is to admire their shoes.

Do you have a favourite quotation? 
William Shakespeare – “I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.”

I don’t believe we can ever thank people enough for what they do. 

Why should people come along and see The Importance of Being Earnest
This is a play that can entertain on many levels. It has humour, mystery, scandal, and pokes fun at Victorian standards. It has fabulous costumes and a “wow” set.

So many people know this play and are excited about it being performed. There is a very good reason for this, it has lasted the test of time because in many ways this play is timeless. I believe it will appeal to the audience in 2019 as much as it did in the late 1800s.

Expectations are high – I believe they will be met (No pressure!)

  • The Importance of Being Earnest is on at Cue Theatre in Inglewood from July 25 to August 3. Tickets can be booked online via the Cue Theatre website.