Meet the examiner: Caroline Petherbridge

21 January 2020

What did you do before becoming a LAMDA Examiner?

I worked for many years as a KS1 school teacher, then as a drama teacher for children from KS1 to GCSE. Along the way, I worked in children’s educational and retail publishing, writing educational books, articles and fiction for children. I have had articles and books printed by several publishers and retailers including Scholastic, TTS Group, Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre. Throughout 2015 and 2016 I was one of a small team of writers for Tesco’s nationwide Eat Happy Project.

What do you do outside of LAMDA?

Outside of LAMDA I run a children’s theatre school called Class Act Theatre School, teach LAMDA classes and am an editor, designer and writer for the educational company Jolly Learning. I am also on the charitable trust that is responsible for running the community theatre in my home town. I act, direct and produce productions in the theatre as well as maintaining the building and its facilities.

How long have you examined with LAMDA?

I am now in my third year of examining and am enjoying the challenges and diversity that the job brings. No two examining days are ever the same and it is a constant delight to meet so many enthusiastic young people who are so passionate about performance and communication.

Why did you want to be a LAMDA Examiner?

I felt it was the natural next step for me to take. I took all my LAMDA exams when I was younger and have taught LAMDA for over 21 years. I have always been a fan of everything that LAMDA offers, and the difference it makes to so many lives, and now feel very proud to be on the board. Being an examiner gives me the opportunity to make a difference – to try to ensure that each learner has a good experience in the examining room and goes out feeling it was a positive experience.

Where have you examined with LAMDA?

I have examined in various locations in and around London, as well as many towns and cities in East Anglia. I have children, so have decided not to travel further afield until they are older!

What advice would you give learners preparing for a LAMDA examination?

It’s all about the preparation. I find that many learners get very nervous about the discussion part of the exam, but the questions they are going to be asked are all in the syllabus, so they can prepare fully. They should remember that the examiner is only human and is on their side! We want them to do well and are routing for them every step of the way, so they should try to enjoy the experience.

What is your favourite Shakespearean poem, play or sonnet?

I think my favourites are the comedies. I have a particular fondness for A Midsummer Night’s Dream because I played Helena in a wonderful production of it several years ago. I also love Much Ado About Nothing. One of my first acting experiences at school was Twelfth Night and we had great fun performing the scene with Malvolio and his yellow stockings. I love Shakespeare’s comedy and it’s always a joy to show children how fun it can be to perform Shakespeare, when they often fear it will be dull and hard to understand.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

I love New York and am hoping to plan a third visit there very soon. It has so much to offer: little bookshops and cafes in Greenwich Village, beautiful Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, which has always fascinated me, and exciting buildings, stores and restaurants. However, I am a huge fan of the British countryside. We have so many breath-taking, beautiful, historical villages, towns and coastlines to explore in Britain. My family became members of the National Trust a few years ago and we have had many lovely little breaks away, exploring beautiful places.

What three books are on your bookshelf or TV shows are stored on your playlist?

I am a huge fan of A.A. Milne and have pretty much every book, play and article he ever wrote, including a few first editions that I’m very proud of! Many people only know him as the writer of Winnie-the-Pooh, which I love, but he wrote so much more. Like many others, I am a Harry Potter fan and devoured all the books as soon as they were published. They now sit proudly on my bookshelf.

In our house we are big fans of Friends and barely a day goes by without an episode being on. Recent shows I have really enjoyed include The Crown and Dickensian and I love watching The Great British Bake Off. One of my all-time favourite TV shows is The Vicar of Dibley. I love the warmth of the characters and the gentle humour. If you didn’t know, the ‘real’ Dibley is a beautiful English village called Turville in Buckinghamshire. It looks just as it does in the series and I love to visit there – the village pub does an amazing Sunday roast! 

What was the last photo you took?

The last photo I took was of my daughter, Daisy, dressed as the Gingerbread Man. For World Book Day the children were told they had to dress as a traditional nursery rhyme or fairy-tale character. Daisy doesn’t like wearing dresses, so Red Riding Hood or Little Miss Muffet were out of the question! We have sorted her out a Gingerbread Man costume and were just trying it on.

What three items would you take to a desert island?

I’d have to take my phone because I would hate to be cut off from my family and friends – although there probably wouldn’t be signal would there…? I would take some teabags and milk because I can’t be without a cup of tea. Lastly, I’d probably take my toothbrush and toothpaste. If you have watched the scene in Castaway where Tom Hanks has to pull out his own tooth, you will understand why. Dental hygiene is very important!

What was your favourite moment of last year?

Picking one moment is very hard – especially when you have children and they do so many things that make you proud every day. The moment that stands out for me was after my 15-year-old daughter, Summer, auditioned for a place at Emil Dale Academy to study musical theatre. She received a beautiful box in the post with a ribbon around it. When she opened the box, we saw a large YES was written on the lid, meaning she had been given a place. I have never seen her so happy and it was thrilling.