Mr. Bennington: An Introverted Extrovert

Ava Cumiskey, Staff writer

27 years of teaching, 200 ties, and many cups of French vanilla coffee are what define Mr. Bennington as one of the most adored language teachers in the New Providence Middle School.

Mr. Bennington is a French and Spanish teacher and was inspired to become one by Madame Kayne, his previous high school French teacher. He began substituting classes out of college and “really liked it and enjoyed it.”

Along with being inspired to pursue a career in teaching, Bennington was convinced to audition for a play by Laurie Wood, a past colleague who taught science in the middle school.

“She was only here for one year, but she convinced me that I needed to audition for a play with her at Plays in the Park in Basking Ridge.”

Bennington was always fascinated by drama, but did not get into it until he was more of an adult. When Wood asked Bennington to audition he said: “I am not doing that. I don’t dance. I don’t sing. I’m not doing it.”

He eventually gave it a go, and realized he likes theatre and performing.

“I got the bug and it’s stuck all these years later.”

Bennington has been in numerous plays and musicals, some of his favorite being, 9 to 5, The Adams Family, Disaster the Musical, And Then There Were None, and A Christmas Carol.

Over an average three month process of preparing for a play, Bennington has many tactics to remember his lines.

“I write my lines over and over and over again on paper. When you write something down, you have a tendency to remember it better. I also use a recorder and record everyone else’s lines and when my character speaks, I leave a blank space, so when I play it back, I can say the lines.”

For the same reasons, Bennington decided to create a drama club called “Save the Drama for Your Mama” for middle school students.

“We didn’t have anything like drama in the middle school and I know some kids have grown into that kind of thing,” Bennington said.

A usual club meeting includes lots of improv games, scene work, and eventually mock auditions, according to Bennington.

“It is loud and crazy, but it’s fun.”

Just like many others, Bennington has favorite actors and actresses. His favorite actor is Samuel L Jackson (“I think he’s great”) who’s known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and The Hitman’s Bodyguard.

His favorite actress is Angela Bassett, who plays one of his favorite singers, Tina Turner, in What’s Love Got to Do With It. She’s also known for her appearances in American Horror Story, and 9-1-1.

Even though Bennington loves to perform in plays and musicals in front of an audience and teach classes in front of students, he is very shy. “You would never know having me in class, but I am a very shy person and I perform all the time. I’m an introvert at heart.”