8 June 2023
Alex MacKeith, who teaches Classics at LEH School in Hampton, southwest London, wrote The Lesson from his bedroom in a house share back in 2016, while also holding down his day-job.
The darkly comic thriller stars Academy Award nominee Richard E Grant as a famous writer who employs a tutor to prepare his son for university entrance exams. The tutor is a struggling young author, played by Irish actor and BAFTA nominee, Daryl McCormack, and things begin to unravel after he is invited to stay on the estate grounds with the family.
Alongside his teaching, Mr MacKeith also performs as a musical comedian and had a sell-out debut show, Thanks for Listening, at the Fringe in Edinburgh last year. His first foray into theatre, School Play, premiered at the Southwark Playhouse in February 2017 and was greeted by critical acclaim.
Alex MacKeith said: “Education is a big theme that runs through my work, but my writing is definitely not autobiographical. There’s some crossover in what I do, as both teaching and performing require you to keep the room engaged and entertained. You are always hoping to be able to communicate and see something click. With pupils, you hope they go away at the end of the lesson feeling more secure about a new skill, a new element of grammar or new part of the literature.
“Film production is a complex business and for a long time, especially after Covid, it looked like it wasn’t going to happen. But somehow, like Lazurus, it came together. You come to realise that so much of it is beyond your control and you just need to focus on making the script as good and strong as possible. Each day you are striving to make it better, going over it again and again until it feels like it sings.”
While Mr MacKeith is flattered that his work has been well received, he thinks it’s more important to believe in what you do and to enjoy the process, rather than focus on the end result: “You need to generate a sense of self-worth and purpose that isn’t contingent on accolades; if you write only to achieve awards, you end up chasing a trend and writing in bad faith – it won’t have been a story you feel passionate about telling.”
Mrs Heather Hanbury, Head Mistress of LEH, said: “We are all very proud of Mr MacKeith and his achievements. My husband and I watched him perform at the Fringe last year, and it’s no surprise that his writing talent, resilience, and hard work have paid off with his screenplay now debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival. I only wish I could join him at the premiere! Mr MacKeith sets a wonderful example to our pupils. His experience shows that, after putting in so much hard work and believing in yourself, you should not be put off by a few setbacks.”
The Lesson premieres on Sunday 11th June at Tribeca Film Festival.