A highly qualified teacher and versatile actress, Ann Jenkins will appear in the forthcoming production of ‘Moon Over Buffalo’ to be presented by the Tokyo International Players.
Some years ago when she belonged to the Dubai Drama Group, Ann Jenkins was playing the part of the evil fairy in “Cinderella.” She said, “I was driving home after the show, and was flagged down by two young Dubai traffic cops. As I slowed, looks of horror passed over their faces and they waved me on. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw I was still wearing my stage makeup, with half my face black and the other half dark green.”
Ann Jenkins has a great capacity for fun. As a child she had a favorite pastime — “dressing up and role-playing with my Mum. She was an actress as well as a teacher.” As a young graduate on her way for teaching practice from Manchester to Lisbon, Jenkins with three friends made a frolic of the journey by driving themselves the whole way in a mini-car.
At the same time, she was always from childhood a serious, achieving person. She became the youngest-ever member of the Coventry City Library when, at age 3, she was already reading. “My mother resumed teaching because I was ready for school at 4. My first stage appearances were at that school,” Jenkins said. She learned at school to play the recorder. A gifted, only child, at age 6 she began playing the piano, at 8 the clarinet, at 11 the cello in an orchestra. She went on to become in time a member of Mensa.
Jenkins began teacher training after earning her first degree, which was a combined honors in drama and English. “I always said I wouldn’t teach,” she said. “I suppose I associated teaching with children and schools.
“The teaching of English as a foreign language to adults is something I began doing during summer holidays. I liked the others I was training with. They were my kind of people.”
She took a postgraduate course in the teaching of English overseas at Manchester, at that time one of only three places in the U.K. offering the specialist program.
Jenkins worked for credential after credential while putting her qualifications to good professional use. For several years during vacations, she worked as a volunteer counselor.
In Italy, Spain and Jordan she taught adults and university students as well as children. In Dubai, she undertook teacher training.
In 1987, she won an advanced training award, one of only about a dozen given worldwide, from the British Council. “That helped finance my master’s degree at Lancaster University in applied linguistics for English language teaching,” she said.
For all her senior qualifications and teaching positions in different countries, Jenkins had some personal, niggling reservations. “I really did wish I had stuck to my guns and at least applied for training in drama,” she said.
As life has turned out for her, she has traveled as she wanted to do. Everywhere she has lived and worked, she has been a respected teacher who was still learning. Recently, she completed the neurolinguistic programming practitioner’s course and has a certificate in Eriksonian hypnotherapy.
Jenkins has never distanced herself very far from drama. As well as appearing on the stage in Barcelona and Dubai, when she worked for the British Council in Naples, she was the female member of a trio “The English Roadshow” whch performed readings from Shakespeare, Lawrence and Blake.
She was teaching at Lancaster University when she took steps to come to Japan. She wanted to get to know Asia. For a year she taught in the English department at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, Sendai. She wanted, however, to be in Tokyo, due largely to the existence there of the long-established theater group, Tokyo International Players.
Jenkins took up an appointment as lecturer at Nishi Tokyo University. At once she became president of West Tokyo Japan Association for Language Teachers, and served for four consecutive years. She also squeezed in time to do some volunteer work in Kenya.
In the realm of theater, Jenkins involved herself on several levels. She worked as a narrator and for radio.
A founding member of Loose Sock Theater Company, based in Yokohama, she played the lead in a play that company entered in a drama festival in Turin. She joined TIP.
For her first appearance in Tokyo, Jenkins was cast as Maria Vasilyevna in Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece “Uncle Vanya.” Showing her versatility, she has played parts in plays as varied as “Zigger Zagger,” “Lettice and Lovage,” “Liaisons Dangereuses,” and “The Cherry Orchard.” She is now in rehearsal for Ken Ludwig’s hilarious “Moon Over Buffalo.”