About Us

We have grown steadily over the years, taking on more students, working in more venues and expanding the range of services we offer. But our strong personal relationship with our students and their parents remains at the heart of everything we do

Who We Are


Founder / Partner / Principal

Gabi’s love of drama began at age 5, when she started attending the small groups Sheila Sacks ran from her North London home. Moving to Bedford, Gabi took acting classes with Vivienne Redford, who introduced her to LAMDA exams. At school she played the title role in Antigone and directed Daisy Pulls It Off. During her gap year at college in Stratford-upon-Avon, she took a Theatre Studies A-Level.

Gabi studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University and then did postgraduate actor training at Drama Studio London. From 2000 to 2001, Gabi lived (with Steven) in the Cape Verde Islands in West Africa. There she taught children and adults, trained teachers and ran drama workshops.

Back home, in 2002 Gabi established Greenacre Drama Classes, which in 2009 became The Playing Space. In between teaching classes, training drama teachers, running the company and all her other responsibilities, 
Gabi directs and acts in plays.

Steven Maddocks

Founder / Partner

Steven made his stage debut at the age of 4, when his Mary in the School Nativity charmed audiences and critics alike. He continued to perform throughout his schooldays; highlights included a number of Shakespearean roles and first prize in his school monologue competition.

After school, Steven studied English at Oxford University – but spent rather more time in the theatre than the lecture hall. He did a stint as President of OUDS (the Oxford University Dramatic Society). After his degree he bowed to the inevitable and did a Postgraduate Diploma in Acting at The Webber Douglas Academy.

As well as his many responsibilities at The Playing Space, at the coal face or behind the scenes, Steven makes full use of his theatrical training. He produces, directs, writes and acts in plays. He also runs corporate voice and presentation training workshops.

Jennie Eggleton

Partner / Teacher

Before joining The Playing Space in 2013, Jennie read for her BA in English and Theatre studies at Leeds University. She then went on to a Postgraduate Diploma at Drama Studio London.

Growing up, Jennie regularly appeared on stage for the Garden Suburb Theatre, of which many current Playing Space students (and some teachers) are members. Jennie’s most notable performance was as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (many years ago!)

Outside The Playing Space, Jennie works as an actor and co-runs the theatre company Mrs C’s Collective, which is an associate company of The Space Theatre. She has appeared in a number of films and TV shows, including Wonder Woman and the Disney show The Evermoor Chronicles. Her numerous theatre roles have taken her as far as Hong Kong. When she is not acting or teaching, Jennie enjoys long walks in the countryside and snuggling with her cat Luna.


PARTNER / Teacher / Administrator

At the age of 8, Abi joined her local Amateur Dramatics group, The Portsmouth Players, where she discovered her first loves: singing, dancing and acting. She studied for a BTEC in Musical Theatre at South Downs College, where she landed the lead role in her final production. She also completed her singing grades, with an Upper Distinction at Grade 8.

After a degree in Musical Theatre at Colchester Institute, Abi gained a place at The American Academy of Musical Theatre, based in Old Street, London. Having worked professionally on and off for a few years, Abi soon found her second love: teaching drama. Since 2012 she has been teaching at The Playing Space, where she nurtures the dramatic talent of the next generation. Abi has built wonderful relationships with all her students over the years and feels very lucky to have been a part of their drama journeys, whether their aim is to gain the confidence to speak out loud, audition for the school play or pursue a dramatic career.

In her spare time, Abi often performs with Garden Suburb Theatre, where she has played several lead roles.

Holly Rivers

Partner / Teacher

Holly grew up in Wales, where she spent her time drawing, reading and wishing that she was Pippi Longstocking. As a child actor, she played the role of Drusilla Paddock in all three series of The Worst Witch (CITV), and as an adult she has clocked up multiple acting credits across TV, theatre, music video and commercials.

When she gave up acting professionally, drama facilitation was a natural progression. Holly is now committed to providing children with a safe, fun and inclusive environment in which to explore the performing arts.

As well as working for The Playing Space, Holly is a children’s author. Her debut novel Demelza and the Spectre Detectors (Chicken House, 2020), was featured on Dermot O’Leary’s Radio 2 breakfast show. BookTrust have described it as ‘a spooky story fizzing with energy and humour’.

In her spare time Holly loves travelling, playing the ukulele, eating sushi, buying second hand clothes, and being by the sea. She lives in London with her girlfriend, and she still wishes that she was Pippi Longstocking.

Rebekah Paterson

Summer School Teacher

Rebekah enjoyed acting and singing from a young age. As a child, she performed regularly with local theatre companies and school choirs.

After two years at college in East Sussex, where she specialised in Performing Arts, Rebekah went on to study Drama and Theatre Arts with Performing Arts at Middlesex University. She then spent two years juggling an admin job in the city with volunteer work for children’s activity groups, including Little Angel Theatre, Discover Children’s Story Centre and The Albany Theatre Youth Programme.

Leaving her city job to pursue a career working with children, Rebekah started her own storytelling and crafts company, Spinning Top Tales. In 2011 she met and began working with Gabi. She cherishes the safe and fun environment at The Playing Space, which encourages children to be more comfortable and confident and enhanced their social and life skills for the future.

Ellen Turner-Atwell, Administrator and Teacher for The Playing SPace


Teacher and Administrator

Ellen found her passion for acting at a young age, when her mum, faced with a child with boundless energy, sent her to the local youth theatre on Saturday mornings. Ellen relished any chance to perform and show off to parents and was always volunteering to play the evil stepmother. As a teenager she joined Derby Youth Theatre, The National Youth Theatre and the renowned Nottingham-based Television Workshop, before training at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She graduated in 2017 with a BA Hons in Acting. Since graduating, Ellen has worked in theatre, TV and as a voiceover artist.

Alongside her acting, Ellen has taught at performing arts schools for the past 8 years. She loves watching young people express their imagination and grow their confidence through drama. She believes passionately that communication and imagination skills should be cultivated in young people as much as academic subjects are.

In her spare time Ellen can be found singing loudly (to the annoyance of her flatmates) and taking walks in nature.


Summer School Teacher

Kirsten is a teacher, actress, and LAMDA examiner. Growing up in North West London, she attended Adele’s Dance School and The Sylvia Young Theatre Saturday School and was involved in numerous school productions and concerts.

After studying Theatre and Professional Practice at Coventry University, Kirsten went on to train at ALRA, where she gained an MA in Professional Acting.

Recent theatre credits include Picasso’s Women (Edinburgh Fringe Festival/Gallery Different), Eleanor Marx: The Jewess of Jews Walk (Sydenham Centre), The Air Raid (Market Theatre), Changing State (Hen & Chickens Theatre), Aladdin the Panto (UK Tour) and Macbeth (Lion & Unicorn Theatre). Kirsten has also featured in numerous short films, commercials and music videos. In corporate settings, her work includes professional role play.

Kirsten has taught drama at stage schools across London and Essex, with students ranging in age from 3 to 16+. She has written and directed adaptations and original plays and has a specialism in facilitating within SEN settings. She is on the board of examiners at LAMDA.


Cover Teacher

Megan’s love of performing was sparked at a young age. Participating in choirs, school performances, amateur dramatics and dance shows paved the way to a future in the creative arts.

After school – and travelling to New Zealand and back – Megan began a Foundation in Acting at Mountview before moving to London to train at Fourth Monkey. There she fell in love with the ensemble ethos, the demands of physical theatre and the creativity of puppetry and mime. After graduation and an Italian tour of The Wizard of Oz with Erasmus Theatre, Megan began working with children’s performing arts companies. She discovered a passion for supporting young people on their creative journey.

Megan has pursued this passion and is particularly interested in the benefits of performing arts for mental health and well-being. She roots her practice in helping children to develop confidence and self-esteem. Megan’s understanding of the physical nature of performance has led her to yoga. She is a keen yogi, and will be completing her youth yoga teacher training in April.

A photo of Hassan Maarfi



Hassan first trod the boards in a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where he played the Fairy King Oberon. In the middle of this production, when Hassan noticed his Mum was recording in the audience, he proceeded to wave and smile at her. He then forgot his lines and ran off stage. Thankfully this was only a minor setback in his career.

Hassan trained at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Since graduating in 2017, he has carved out a career in the industry, performing on stages across the UK and Europe and in Los Angeles.

Hassan has appeared on your screens in BBC’s Doctors and Beyond Paradise, Sky’s My Friend Misty and the BAFTA-winning Left Behind. In 2023 he filmed Eternal Return, a fantasy rom-com starring Kit Harrington, Naomi Scott and Simon Callow.

Hassan loves bringing his experience and love of theatre into the classroom. He encourages young people to create big, bold, high-energy characters in a fun and safe environment.

Hassan is also an avid tennis fan. In another life, he was destined to challenge Rafa Nadal for the King of Clay Title.

Photo of Isabella Vaughan, a teacher for The Playing Space



Isabella decided at the age of 9 she wanted to be an actor. Determined to make this a reality, she enrolled in multiple trials before finding the performing arts school for her, nestled in a rather dingy church hall in Sheffield. She felt right at home throwing herself into improvisation classes and raucous drama games. Over many years she performed countless shows, festivals and completed all her LAMDA grades.

When she was 16, Isabella began teaching and loved it. Nearly 15 years on, teaching (and playing silly drama games) remains one of her biggest passions!

Isabella trained at National Youth Theatre before doing a 3-year Acting degree at ALRA. Since graduating she has worked professionally in Theatre, Film and TV. In 2023, she became an honorary Cockney, playing a guest role in EastEnders!

She’d describe her teaching style as energetic, empathetic and above all, fun!

A Short History of The Playing Space

The Playing Space started life as Greenacre Drama Classes, set up by Gabi Maddocks in 2002. In 2008 Gabi’s husband Steven took over her classes while she was at home with their second baby. The following Spring they decided to join forces on a permanent basis. They relaunched the company as The Playing Space.

At first, they taught at The Playing Space and ran the company on a part-time basis. However, word was spreading, and by 2011 they had a full weekly programme of classes.

The next expansion was into birthday parties and school drama clubs. With an increasingly busy office, It was time to take on other teachers. Both Siobhan and Rebekah joined the team in 2011, running their own weekly classes. Abi, Holly and Jennie followed soon after, with Gina being the most recent addition to our core team when she joined two years ago.

The extra hands on deck gave Gabi time to start running teacher training seminars, which are attended by teachers all over the UK and beyond! Steven moved into professional presentation training and voice coaching. Between them they have also started publishing teacher resource books, which are 5* rated with positive reviews. They continue to teach classes and direct productions at The Playing Space when their schedules allow.

Our Philosophy

For everyone who works at The Playing Space, it is our own love of drama – and our own happy memories of the drama lessons we had when we were younger – that has brought us to this point.

The Playing Space has always had the development of real life skills at the core of its ethos. Some of these skills are obvious, such as confidence, communication, teamwork, and listening. Some are hidden deeper beneath the surface, such as empathy, initiative, perseverance and the courage to step out of comfort zones.

We’re clever at disguising all this wonderful education and training underneath all the fun that our students are having, but we have a sneaking suspicion that many of them realise that, as well as really enjoying their weekly lesson, they are also benefitting in lots of other ways.

Most importantly, we want every child in our groups to feel they belong. We achieve this by keeping group sizes small, and by gently challenging our students to step outside their comfort zones in a way they can manage, and without fear of being judged or criticised.

To sum up The Playing Space philosophy: we want our students to develop the confidence and skills to express themselves well by giving them a fun and safe environment in which to practise.

Our Policies

Bullying and Harassment Policy
Updated 23rd November 2018.
  1. Introduction
  2. We are an equal opportunities employer. This means that we will make good faith efforts to comply with the spirit and letter of the equality laws and other laws.

    It is the policy of The Playing Space to provide a neutral and harmonious environment that is free from harassment and intimidation, where all employees, management, beneficiaries, volunteers and supporters are treated with dignity and respect. Bullying or harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

    All employees, management, beneficiaries, volunteers and supporters of The Playing Space are expected to comply with this policy and not to behave in a way that humiliates, intimidates or undermines others.

    The Playing Space is dedicated to ensuring that all participants and employees involved in our activities are treated and valued equally, regardless of sex, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, additional educational needs, disability, pregnancy or maternity, and sexual orientation.

  3. What is Harassment?
  4. Harassment is unwanted conduct related to the equality grounds which damages, or which is done with the aim of damaging, a person’s dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.

    Many forms of misbehaviour may amount to harassment; examples include:

    • physical conduct such as assaulting a person or making obscene gestures;
    • verbal conduct such as making racist, sexist, sectarian or homophobic remarks; making derogatory comments about a person’s age or disability; or singing songs of this nature;
    • visual or written material containing racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic or other derogatory words or pictures (e.g. in posters, graffiti, letters or emails);
    • isolating a person or refusing to co-operate or help them at work or by excluding them from work-related social activities;
    • forcing a person to offer sexual favours or to take part in religious or political activities.
  5. What is Bullying?
  6. Bullying is similar to harassment in the sense that it too is offensive, hostile or oppressive behaviour. The main difference is that bullying behaviour need not be related to the equality grounds, but may be done for other reasons, such as jealousy or personal dislike, revenge or insecurity.

  7. Implications of Harassment and Bullying
  8. Harassment and bullying can damage the health, confidence, morale and performance of employees who are affected by it. Harassment is unlawful under the equality laws. Harassment and bullying may also be civil or criminal offences and may contravene health and safety law.

    Quite apart from the legal implications, both harassment and bullying are contrary to the standards of behaviour that we expect of our employees. Both types of behaviour are unacceptable in our workplace and are not permitted or condoned. We will treat such behaviour as misconduct, which may warrant dismissal from employment.

  9. Employees’ Rights
  10. Our employees have a right to work in a good and harmonious environment that is free from harassment and bullying and to complain about such behaviour should it occur.

  11. Grievance Procedure
  12. We have established an internal grievance procedure to deal with such complaints and we would encourage aggrieved employees to use it. All complaints will be dealt with seriously, promptly and confidentially.

    Employees who make complaints, and others who give evidence or information in connection with such complaints, will not be victimised (i.e. they will not be discriminated against, harassed or bullied in retaliation for their actions). Victimisation is also discrimination contrary to the equality laws and this policy. We will treat it as misconduct, which may warrant dismissal from employment.

  13. Employees’ Responsibilities
  14. All our employees must comply with this policy. They must treat each other with dignity and respect. They must not themselves commit any acts of harassment or bullying against any person, such as their co-workers, our job applicants or our customers. Such behaviour will not be permitted or condoned. We will treat it as misconduct, which may warrant dismissal from employment.

    All our employees should discourage harassment and bullying by making it clear that they find such behaviour unacceptable and by supporting co-workers who suffer such treatment. Any employee who is aware of any incidence of harassment or bullying should alert a manager or supervisor to enable us to deal with it.

  15. Employer’s Responsibilities
  16. We will continually make good faith efforts to implement this policy. Managing Partner, Gabi Maddocks will carry out the main responsibility for this. But all employees have a responsibility to adhere to this policy on a day-to-day basis, especially in setting a good example for our students to follow, and to intervene where necessary to protect and reassure employees.

    To implement this policy, we will:

    • provide all partners and employees (including self-employed teachers and assistants) with a copy of this policy and explain it to them;
    • provide appropriate training to partners and employees (including self-employed teachers and assistants);
    • ensure that all complaints of harassment and bullying are dealt with promptly, seriously and confidentially and in accordance with our internal grievance procedure;
    • set a good example by treating employees with fairness, dignity and respect;
    • be alert to unacceptable behaviour and take appropriate action to stop it;
    • monitor all incidents of harassment and bullying and review the effectiveness of this policy periodically.
Complaints Procedure

The Playing Space welcomes suggestions and comments from parents and students, and takes seriously complaints and concerns they may raise. The following shows you how to use our complaints procedure.

A complaint will be treated as an expression of genuine dissatisfaction, which needs a response.

We wish to ensure that:

  • parents wishing to make a complaint know how to do so;
  • we respond to complaints within a reasonable time;
  • we respond to complaints in a courteous and efficient way;
  • parents realise that we listen and take complaints seriously;
  • we take action where appropriate.
  1. In the first instance please address your concerns to the member of staff most closely concerned with the issue. Feel free to contact them by phone, letter, email or in person stating as clearly as possible what is troubling you.
  2. If another child is involved please do not approach them or their parents directly with your concerns, but allow us to mediate.
  3. We hope that the matter will be resolved quickly and that you will be satisfied with the response. If however you feel that your concern or suggestion has not been considered fully or fairly then you can make an official complaint to Gabrielle Maddocks, Artistic Director,
    who is designated Complaints Co-ordinator.
  4. The Complaints Co-ordinator will discuss matters with you in private, to hear whatever matters you wish to draw to her attention, and to resolve the problem in a mutually satisfactory way.
  5. In the event that you are dissatisfied with the Complaints Co-ordinator decision, you may renew the complaint before the Administrative Director, Steven Maddocks, who will hear in private your grievance and make a fresh and independent decision upon your complaint.
  6. In the event that the complaint involves allegations against the Complaints Co-ordinator, the Complaints Co-ordinator shall direct that the renewed hearing of the complaint shall be heard before the Administrative Director who will hear in private your grievance and make a fresh and independent decision upon your complaint.
  7. After Complaints have been heard by the Complaints Co-ordinator and/or the Administrative Director, the matter shall be considered closed and any decision made is final.
  8. If you are not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled, then please contact Ofsted on 0300 123 1231.