It is with a heavy and sad heart that I write to inform members, friends, patrons, Facebook friends and Drama and Education people that Aine Lark, our ND Chair, has died. She celebrated her 50th birthday this July. Her illness was short, and her death a shock. I knew she was ill, but was hoping and praying chemo would give her more time. Our thoughts and loving condolences are with her husband Al, her family in Belfast and beyond, whom she adored, and her many friends and colleagues.
All who met her will remember her big smile, bigger heart, limitless energy, unbelievable work ethic, positivity, enthusiasm, and wide-reaching, swift intelligence. Her passion was her work: she had more ideas than an oak tree has acorns, all of the time and she never stopped learning. She believed all our young people should have quality and excellence in their Drama education, from aged three onwards, and was that rare mind that could see the value and importance of all the glinting threads in the rainbow skein of Drama and Theatre Education, from Bolton and Heathcote’s brilliant process and pedagogy, through teaching powerhouse practitioners and diverse theatre companies, and in devising, script work and performance skills. She held onto the values and practices that brought us together and took us forward. Division in our opinionated Drama community frustrated her; she was a sensitive and dedicated community builder. She saw how Drama can transform, enlighten, entertain and empower children and was dismayed by the lack of vision in educational policy around the arts. Not that this ever stopped her: every challenge was relished, every opportunity to champion Drama and Theatre Education taken and every lesson, every performance, every article, every individual contribution celebrated.
Her achievements are many; well qualified and well respected as a professional, an irrepressibly friendly and sociable networker, a vibrant presence on several committees and groups working to promote Drama. For National Drama, she was a tireless campaigner, organiser, promoter, visionary, our leader, our friend, and a true optimist. She talked with equal pride about lessons with Y5s in lockdown on Alice; contributing to the Drama, Theatre and Young People Manifesto at the World Alliance for Arts Education conference in Frankfurt; our upbeat 30th Birthday Party Conference, Celebrating Drama; and the riot of innovation in our latest Drama magazine.
Aine has been described with characteristic insight by Kerry Frampton as an incredibly bright light, and a wonderful, passionate, and brilliant woman, and by actor and writer LM Lewin as a force of nature, so full of love and vitality.
She will be missed. Her legacy lives on, every time one of this warm and crazy Drama, Theatre and Education family has a great idea, keeps Drama on a school curriculum, puts on a show, sees a child change mid-workshop, writes to MPs, donates to a theatre, sits in a meeting, asks a Head what Arts provision is, enables young people to experience live theatre, supports a colleague. The light shines on.