Dio gets the Dickens of a talking to

17:00, May 03 2012
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: British actress Miriam Margolyes tells students at Diocesan School for Girls to be brave and read Charles Dickens.

Students at Diocesan School for Girls are taking on board new life lessons after a visit from noted British actress Miriam Margolyes who shared with them her love of Charles Dickens.

The performer has starred in films and television shows including Harry Potter, Blackadder and James and the Giant Peach and is in New Zealand for her national tour of Dickens' Women.

But it was the young women of Diocesan who benefited from Ms Margolyes' visit after they received a lesson about bravery.

Ms Margolyes spent Tuesday afternoon reading excerpts of Great Expectations to the students, many of whom had never opened a Dickens novel.

"If you have a brain at all get a second-hand book and be brave. I don't give a tuppenny-fart if you think it is boring, you will learn and listen," she says. "Go to a second-hand bookstore and buy it. Be brave and open a B-O-O-K."

Ms Margolyes fell in love with Dickens when she was just 11 years old.

"I suppose there is something temperamental in me, an over-vitality which he had also," she says. "I feel this is a writer that wrote for me."

Ms Margolyes was astounded the school did not offer Dickens as part its curriculum.

"Can you imagine learning about pop music but not learning about The Beatles or Lady Gaga? He was the most famous man in the world. The world was small then but he was the greatest celebrity and people would queue to see him drink a glass of water."

Diocesan headmistress Heather McRae says the curriculum offers a collection of books for the students to choose from for their studies.

"We teach a range of novels and the selection is important because young people need to be able to relate to analyse," she says. "It's important that they have a range of classical and modern books and that is what we are trying to achieve. It's important to stay current which is what the girls want to read."

Ms McRae says having Ms Margolyes come to Diocesan has been a great benefit to the students who may want to follow in her footsteps.

Head girl Annelise Hassall, 17, says theatre and performing arts is definitely a career option for her and it was an overwhelming experience learning from Ms Margolyes.

"I've been so excited for this for so long," she says.

"I thought she was great the way she could change characters so quickly  it was inspirational. She really captured the audience, we were absorbed. And to be that connected with her characters, she cried just from reading the character from the book, that was amazing."

Ms Margolyes performs 23 characters in Dickens' Women at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna until Sunday. Visit dickens women.com for more information.


Central Leader