Many of you who read this will already be familiar with our drama school, but I think it’s always an interesting exercise to try and summarise our raison d’etre and remind ourselves and others of why we originally started our company.

As a child my weekly drama class was the highlight of my week. It took place in Sheila’s front room, with her kitchen in one corner, and a battered leather sofa in the other. The same children came each week, and we had fun playing games, improvising characters and reciting poems. Some of these games I still play with my students now, three decades later!

Sheila’s little group was the not the first class I tried. I remember feeling very out of place when I tried out a session on a Saturday morning at a big stage school in the centre of town. I watched all these confident girls doing back flips in their leotards, talking about auditions that they’d been too and crying because they didn’t get the part they wanted in the end-of-term show. I tried to follow the dance routine, and I mouthed the words during singing practice in case anyone should hear me sing out of tune. I didn’t go back for a second week.

I also went with a friend to a holiday workshop in a church hall on the Finchley Road. We did a show of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ for parents at the end of the week. I felt very lucky to get the part of one of the ugly sisters (!) but I felt a bit sorry for my friend, who had a tiny non-speaking role as a forest sprite – one of a crowd of other forest sprites. It seems to me now that this group scene was a kind of sponge to soak up all the children that weren’t ‘good enough’ to have a main role.

These memories, positive and negative, informed my decisions when starting my own drama school. I knew I wanted to keep the group size small, that I would leave dancing and singing to other companies, and that I wanted every child who walked through our doors to feel that they belonged. To try to sum up our philosophy: we want our students to develop life skills of self-expression and self-confidence by working in a safe and supportive environment. The fact that many of our teenage students have been coming to our classes since they were five years old is the biggest indicator that our efforts have been successful.

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