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Dean-Marriott-Photo-200

Dean Marriott was born in London and educated in the UK and Germany.  He retired from a career in finance, aged 33, and subsequently retrained as an actor and teacher.  From an early age, his passion for languages and the arts has underpinned both his professional and social lives.  In his quest for leisure activities, Dean keeps one key thought in mind: if Shakespeare’s words are true and ‘All the world's a stage’, we shouldn’t have to look far in order to be entertained.  We just have to make the time to appreciate it.  
If you are searching for an element of entertainment in your leisure pursuits and have a desire to look beyond the obvious, then Dean will use his artistic eye to point you in the right direction.  

Dean works in Switzerland as an actor, voice-over artist, and onscreen presenter.  He also teaches theatre, improvisation and film-making at La Chataigneraie, Ecolint, as part of their ECA programme.

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dean flight blog 1

People often joke about Swiss punctuality and visitors may be somewhat surprised when apologies for a 2-minute delay are voiced over a train’s PA system.  However, for me, this should be the norm, whatever the mode of transport.

Our leisure time is precious.  In Switzerland, the minimum annual leave entitlement for a full-time employment position is 4 weeks (or 20 days).  In addition, there are between 7 and 15 paid public holidays which vary from canton to canton.  Under EU legislation, all member states must grant all employees a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation.  The UK has a statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks (or 28 days), which may include the 8 public holiday days. The US has no statutory minimum paid vacation, although according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, full-time employees become entitled to, on average, 10 days holiday after 1 year of service.

Using part of your annual leave in order to travel to another country takes some planning.  Flights are often booked months in advance and timings selected to maximise use of your time and minimise cost.  So when your flight is delayed by a few hours or, worse still, cancelled, inconvenience is the politest way to describe the impact felt.  

Holiday insurance can often help to compensate, but there is another route for compensation which shouldn’t be overlooked.  All airline passengers, irrespective of nationality or residence, may be entitled to compensation in the event of a flight cancellation or delay of more the 3 hours, when flying within the EU or departing from the EU on an EU or non-EU airline, or arriving in the EU on an EU airline.

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Having booked our Christmas holiday to Saas-Fee in July 2016 with the knowledge that it was probably our last Christmas in Switzerland, we had no idea that it would prove to be such a poignant visit.  

Looking back over 2016, we can’t help but find ourselves reflecting on the many celebrities who passed away.  The death of George Michael on Christmas Day was one of these sad moments.  It was only upon arriving in Saas-Fee on the morning of 26th December that I heard the news.  It soon became apparent that Saas-Fee had a strong connection with the singer, and after a quick internet search I discovered that the music video for  Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ had been filmed there back in December 1984.

Originally planned to be shot in the Canton of Bern, a last-minute change of location occurred due to a lack of snow, and Saas-Fee became the new setting. In case you are curious, the group and crew stayed at the 5-star Hotel Walliserhof, now renamed the Hotel Ferienart.  Another piece of trivia is that the well-known scene in front of the open fireplace was actually shot in the current culture centre, rather than the chalet shown in the video.

With this knowledge in mind, and having watched the video again, our stay in Saas-Fee took on a new meaning.  Although I cannot claim to have been a huge Wham or George Michael fan, I cannot escape the fact that they were a constant part of my teenage years, and thus, were indeed a part of my life that had come to an end.

swimming blog Dean 1

Exercise has always been promoted as an essential component for both our physical and mental wellbeing.  However, exercise is a broad term and what works for one person may not work to the same degree for another.  

Recently, I have taken up swimming again; not in a pool but in the lake.  My target each day is to swim to a carefully selected ‘orange buoy’, and, of course, back again.  This takes between 30 and 40 minutes depending on the conditions of the lake and the force of the current.  As Lake Geneva lies on the River Rhône, the source of which is the Rhône Glacier in Valais, there is a current that varies in strength on a daily basis.

I have discovered a huge difference between lake swimming and pool swimming, and it’s not simply the absence of chlorine.  The fact that I have no opportunity to rest at the end of each length has caused me to experience something quite exhilarating.  I have a very active mind, and find it hard to ‘switch off’ and relax.  Many of us experience periods of stress which prove a challenge to manage.  Going to the gym helps me.  However, at times I find myself lost in my thoughts between exercises, and although I indeed benefit physically, my mental state is still somewhat neglected.

When I swim in the lake, I am able to detach from my thoughts and simply focus on the activity: regular deep-breathing, coordinated stretching of the arms and legs, navigating my passage between boats and dinghies – in fact, I truly live in the moment.  I am not worrying about the effects of what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future.  Nothing stands between me and the environment in which I find myself; we become one.

Locarno 4

By Dean Marriott

Lights, cameras and plenty of action – that’s what awaits all attendees at the Locarno Film Festival.  This year the festival ran from 3rd until 13th August, attracting films and participants from all over the world.  Although films are screened at 10 different venues, the most breath-taking and unforgettable experience is to be had on the majestic Piazza Grande.  The piazza transforms into an open-air cinema and thanks to the wonderful summer temperatures this year, provided the perfect setting for some incredible films, originating from all continents.

As a British actor based in Switzerland, I was honoured to receive my accreditation pass this year, giving access to all of the screenings and events during the festival.  Integrating into the Swiss acting scene is no mean feat, so seeing my name on the attendee list alongside other Swiss actors was quite something.

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By Dean Marriott

This year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. To mark this, the British Council is supporting a series of global events, as well as offering a huge number of online resources.

For those of you who have a spare couple of hours per week and would like to brush up on your knowledge of Shakespeare, it would be worth considering a free 6-week online course with the British Council.  After looking into the life of Shakespeare during week 1, the course will then take you on a journey of his works, discovering a new play each week: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest and Macbeth.  The next course begins on 18th April and you can sign up for free on the following link: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/explore-english-shakespeare

I often explore the works of Shakespeare during classes and workshops with children and am always excited by their discoveries as they bring the text to life and discover the origins of certain expressions.  Currently, I am working on Romeo and Juliet with my Wednesday afternoon Advanced English learners aged 8-13.  Some parents are often surprised to hear that their children are studying Shakespeare as part of a language acquisition course.  However, to me, as an actor teaching English through theatre, this has always seemed a natural part of the language acquisition process.  The themes are so relevant today and the language so rich, that it would be a shame to avoid it.