…is to pretend you’re on the stage! That’s according to Nick Denyer, Praelector (Father of the College) who, when on official business, is addressed as ‘Your Paternity.’
Among the many responsibilities of this role are making sure students are properly attired, ensuring they know what to do when in the Senate House, and calming nerves. Many students are anxious about the ceremony, says Mr Denyer, and one way of countering that is rehearsing.
When they get to the Senate House even a gesture that they have rehearsed is going to dwindle. So if I get them used to doing something big and flamboyant it will end at the right size and they will be able to do it without embarrassment.
Praelector for the last 11 years, Mr Denyer will step down from this role after the graduation of postgraduate students in July this year. He’s enjoyed it all, in particular, the theatricality of this ceremonial finale of students’ time at Cambridge.
I am misplaced as an academic, I should have been doing Hollywood musicals, or ideally grand opera; but the trouble is that for that, you need choreographic and musical talent, which I don’t have. Still, I always like to think of the Senate House as something like La Scala.
…and his half dozen or so annual performances in the Senate House leave Mr Denyer plenty of time for his main job at Trinity: teaching philosophy.