An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Che is a proud graduate of the School of the Art and has featured many SOTA alums, including Britton Bradford, Kayoz Fortune, Ajani Jeffries, Marguerite Frarey, Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., Willis Ajamu Brooks , James Kegler, Taye Diggs and Evalyn Gleason.
When I did some substitute teaching in the RCSD, SOTA was my favorite destination. I remember John Gabrielle preparing his choir for the Lilac Festival and then watching their impressive performance in Highland Park. See No highly effective teachers at SOTA?. Something is not right.
Once, I helped the Tech Crew strike down the set they had deftly created for the musical Shrek. That experience became The Unsung Heroes . . . Behind the Scenes at the School of the Arts.
Luke Fellows; A Theatre Educator Making A Lasting Impression Within The SOTA
In this highlight we turn our attention to Luke Fellows, a dedicated, hardworking and passionate drama teacher
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I am originally from the small town of Bourne in the county of Lincolnshire, England. I went to Bourne Grammar School where I dressed like a Harry Potter cast member in blazer (with school badge no less), white button up shirt, school tie and dress pants. I obtained my bachelor of arts degree in Drama and Theatre Arts from Middlesex University in London and it was there that I met my wife Danielle who is originally from Irondequoit, she was an exchange student, we were married a year after we graduated and then we moved to Rochester in 2003. I started teaching at School of the Arts in 2007.
What inspired you to be an artist/educator? Early experiences worth sharing?
I didn’t want to be a teacher. It was the last thing I wanted to go into. Both of my parents were teachers and I found the idea of following in my parents footsteps to be very dull. When I did my careers day at school – you know, when you have to answer questions about yourself and then you’re told what career path you should follow – I was told I should be a teacher and I thought “absolutely not, not way!” Many years later I moved to America, wanted to use my theatre degree but had decided that the life of an actor (bouncing between jobs, not knowing where the next paycheck was coming from, working unsociable hours etc.) was not for me and so I thought long and hard about what I could do. I worked in office jobs, sitting behind a desk and thought how boring it was and how I needed to move around all and how I missed the theatre. I then started running some drama camps and doing an after-school drama class at a Rochester charter school and really enjoyed myself, I loved sharing that joy of theatre with kids and found I had an ability to do so. It was then I realized that being a drama teacher was probably what I needed to be. A steady pay check while spending my whole day working with and talking about theatre with young people. It just made sense.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
I think I’ve always learned from any challenges that I have faced rather than triumphed over them. It is also unreasonable for me to talk about adversity as most of the challenges I have faced have been innocuous in comparison to the challenges that I see many of my students face on a daily basis. I’ve been without work in my life, I’ve had moments of depression, I’ve been an immigrant trying to find my way in a country that is not my own but these challenges are nothing in comparison to the issues that many Rochester children face like poverty or being relied on to care for younger siblings because their parents work two jobs. My “adversities” are meaningless compared to the student who has doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from and yet commits to go to college and continues on to make a success of themselves.
I’m not set apart. I don’t believe that artists and educators should separate themselves or seek to separate themselves. Our work is all collaborative, linked by influence from others or inspiration to others, everything done by artists is as a reaction, a contrast or as a complement to someone elses work or guidance. Art and education it is one huge organic process that we are all a part of. We’re all branches on the same huge artistic tree that has its roots in cave paintings and campfire stories. I’m just one branch on that tree (I may even be just a twig).
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I love to spend time with my family and when I’m at home I usually like to be creating something be it working on my house, cooking a fun meal or baking (bread, cakes doesn’t matter so long as I get to eat it) and I follow Aston Villa Football Club (an English soccer team.
I’m currently co-directing In The Heights at SOTA with my friend and colleague Michelle Sapere and soon after that working on ideas for SOTA’s 2017-18 season with the rest of the SOTA theatre department.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Happy and still learning.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/educators?
Don’t strive for fame, strive for success and always find pride in what you do.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
I’m on Facebook and Instagram (ljpfellows1979), I tried Twitter once but it just felt like people I don’t know were yelling at me.