New English teacher brings a worldwide upbringing and a passion for playwriting

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New English teacher brings a worldwide upbringing and a passion for playwriting

WRITER:   Mr. Forrester is teaching American Literature this year.

WRITER: Mr. Forrester is teaching American Literature this year.

WRITER: Mr. Forrester is teaching American Literature this year.

WRITER: Mr. Forrester is teaching American Literature this year.

Molly Litvak, Community Editor

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He may teach English, but new Shalhevet teacher Mr. Brian Forrester has a passion for theater, or more specifically, playwriting. Ever since college, he’s been writing plays and operas that focus on historical periods or events.

He’s also been teaching, but not high school: Mr. Forrester has taught at Western Kentucky University, where he earned a B.S. English; Kennesaw State University in Georgia; Valparaiso University in Indiana and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he earned an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing.

In 2010, Mr. Forrester moved to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh, and this year he is teaching one 10th-grade American Literature class at Shalhevet.

“I always thought I was going to be a novelist,” said Mr. Forrester. “But when I couldn’t get into the advanced fiction writing class because it was full, I wanted to do something creative so I took Intro to Playwriting, and I fell head-over-heels in love with it and I never looked back.”

At the moment, he is working on an opera libretto, or script, about Lady Macbeth called Blasted Heath. His last play, called The Beast of Skitter Creek, was about a cotton mill strike in 1932 in South Carolina, and was produced at Essential Theater in Atlanta in 2016.

Mr. Forrester’s wife Carolyn also writes plays but they mostly work separately. According to Mr. Forrester, she likes writing about Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1533-1603. Her last play was called Highness, and it explored the relationship between teenage Elizabeth and her stepmother.

Growing up, Mr. Forrester went to a new school every two years or so. His dad was in the Navy, so he grew up mostly on remote islands, such as the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific and Adak, Alaska.

“I loved it,” Mr. Forrester said. “I got to see pretty much every corner of the world which is a great way to grow up.”

He went to the University of Georgia for undergrad where he majored in English and political science, and then attended Kennesaw State and Carnegie Mellon for graduate school.

Mr. Forrester met his wife at Carnegie Mellon and they decided to drive together to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh. The drive took around five days and by the time they arrived in L.A., they were dating and would be married a year-and-a-half later.

Mr. Forrester started by teaching theater and drama, and has been teaching for eight years.

“It’s one of those things where you kinda don’t get to know your own discipline really until you learn to teach it to others,” said Mr. Forrester. “It’s been incredibly rewarding.”

He said he’s excited about “introducing kids to great literature for the first time before they’ve got a chance to learn to be dismissive of it or not be excited about it.”

“By the time they get to college, most students have some pretty firm opinions about literature, so I’m looking forward to catching you guys early,””

— Mr. Forrester

Mr. Forrester was always into reading growing up. He devoured everything written by Edgar Allen Poe, and then moved into dramas and 20th century plays such as Death of a Salesman.

Mr. Forrester said he has a very discussion-based teaching style.

“I like to throw things out there and then we’ll argue about it,” said Mr. Forrester. “That’s my basic style, that’s what literature is built for.”

When he’s not writing or teaching, Mr. Forrester loves to bake. He has recently taken up baking bread.


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