In 1991 I graduated from The University of Michigan’s Honors English Program. My course work emphasized dramatic literature and creative writing. I then spent two years as a guest student at The University of Bern in Switzerland, while also teaching in a private language school and acting with an English-language theatre company. I moved to Berkeley in 1993, and have taught drama and English now for over 20 years in independent schools in the Bay Area.
My first impressions of TMS still resonate with me today. Head Emeritus Barbara Schakel took me on that first tour of the school, and I remember being very impressed with the artwork on the walls and the vibe in the main building—it felt very creative and exciting, and yet remarkably quiet and focused too. And then out of nowhere the latest-greatest music of the day came blasting through the speakers. I looked at Barbara for some explanation. Without missing a beat, she said, “Oh, that’s the school bell.” I thought that was pretty cool.
We have some really unique programs at TMS, and everyone that works here is very committed to the school and excited about the opportunity to work in such a creative and dynamic environment. I'm very impressed with the work the drama students are doing. We’ve done everything from Beckett to Shepard to Wilder. As part of my thesis for graduate school we performed an Anna Deavere Smith-inspired documentary theatre piece around the theme of dreams, both nocturnal and aspirational. The students really honored their respective interviewees with their powerful performances. More recently we created and performed a part live-action, part recorded radio drama. In doing so, we made good use of the school’s recording studio.
Our beautiful site here in San Rafael has really taken shape. The space presents all kinds of possibilities, indoor and out. I look forward to integrating more of the talents of the fine arts and Fab Lab students into the drama program in the coming years. There are some very talented teachers and students producing amazing art around here. Presenting more of the students’ writing in readings and publications is a goal of mine too.
Phil van Eyck
English and Drama, Humanities Dept. Chair