When Cynthia Hulme, or Thia as she is better known, decided to get her Graduate Diploma in Education she had no idea it would take her on a journey across the world.
Having taught in three different countries, she has finally settled in South Africa, where she has founded her own travelling theatre.
Theatrics aren’t new for Thia. Even before she retired she says it seemed to make its way into all her classrooms.
“Maths was always more fun when the last ten minutes of the lesson were made up of students devising different hand-clapping patterns with partners to learn their tables,” she said.
Class books would always be both read and dramatised with different students playing a variety of roles regardless of gender.”
Thia commenced her study with Murdoch as a mature age external student in Singapore.
With no internal study options at that time, and minimal opportunities to undertake practical experience, Thia would regularly fly into Perth.
Completing her DipEd in 1994, Thia went on to teach at Dover Court Preparatory School in Singapore before moving to London to become a relief teacher.
The schools she encountered were often housed in old workhouses, with very little space or light.
“The classrooms were crowded, one student would push out their chair and accidentally push into another student,” she said.
Following her stint in England, Thia headed for Brussels where she found work at The British Academy. A small school with only a few students and just two teachers, the Academy was designed for the children of overseas diplomats.
“I was a mature aged student when I started at Murdoch University and I took retirement after Belgium,” Thia said.
“I fell in love with the Hibiscus Coast in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, the only problem was there was no theatre!”
Six years ago, Thia created the Hibiscus Amateur Theatrical Society (H.A.T.S), a travelling theatre made up solely of retirees.
“I wrote a play called Murder on the Menu,” she said.
“One of the actors turned out to be a retired carpenter and welder so he built our travelling stage, and another couple provided the lights and sound equipment. Each member is encouraged to share their ideas.”
Thia enjoys performing as much as ever and is proud that all profits from the travelling theatre benefit the SPCA with its valiant work to protect animals.