It was with great sadness to read in the newspaper that Wayne Ashton has passed away.
Nearly 15 years ago, I had the honour of being apart of his drama club for two years with the Performing Arts Centre.
I was an awkward and antisocial pre-teen who did not have much of an interest in anything other than reviewing world capitals and Simpsons-based trivia.
Wayne is one of the few individuals who could interact well with pre-teen and young teen nuisances such as myself, and create such a positive atmosphere.
Even if you were more miserable than the characters in The Breakfast Club because of what was going on at school or elsewhere, Wayne could create an atmosphere where that would temporarily disappear.
He saw the potential of everyone in the room, and would always encourage you unconditionally.
That is a rare trait for human beings to possess.
In other words, he is the antipode of the music teacher from Whiplash.
Over a decade later, I can trace my roots as a self-proclaimed comedian, an improving performer, a skilled script writer, a passionate member of the film community, a mediocre actor, and as a semi-outgoing and approachable individual back to my introduction to theatre thanks to Wayne.
Today, I feel I owe the early building blocks of these skill sets due to Wayne’s theatre program, that helped kick-start my life into a wonderful direction.
I heartily encourage everyone who, rather than being in a state of great emotion due to his passing, will instead embrace all of the great things he has accomplished.
I do not intend to speak for anyone’s experience besides my own, but thank you Wayne for giving me something to look forward to after a challenging day in the classroom, and being a role model who pushed me into the arts.
P.S: Did you have to cast me as the villain in both- plays? Surely you thought I was not one to cause trouble, did you?
Logan S.C.W. Saunders