Academy celebrates a dramatic decade

One of the Academy's primary classes.
One of the Academy's primary classes.
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THE Helen O’Grady Drama Academy is celebrating ten years of classes in St Andrews this month.

Having already established classes in three other locations in Fife, the Academy principal, Barbara Brett, opened the first classes in St Andrews in February 2003.

Barbara, an experienced teacher of languages and a drama graduate, took over the Academy in 2000.

“I was attracted by the fact that the established and integrated curriculum offers children the chance for self development at their own pace: drawing on drama techniques, it provides a structure for all children, from the very shy to the more confident, enhusiastic speaker, to improve their speaking skills, and develop an outgoing personality.

“We opened our first two classes in St Leonard’s Church Hall in February 2003 and, for 10 years, we have continued our weekly classes for primary school children, meeting consistently every week during term time since then.

Our two age groups cover the primary age range, but we have also, for a time, run pre-school classes in St Andrews, and when they reach secondary age, our students transfer to our Youth Theatre in Cupar.”

The Academy specialises in the self development of children with a strong emphasis on confidence building, fluent, creative spech and imaginative self expression.

Every year at the end of the summer term, the children present an improvised play to demonstrate to their parents and friends what they have achieved.

For some, just standing on stage in front of an audience is a huge achievement: for others, speaking out clearly and with confidence gives a great sense of pride, and for others it gives the opportunity to create and sustain character.

“In 10 years,” says Barbara, “ we have seen a lot of super speaking, imaginative ideas and expressive enthusiasm! In that time, over 400 children have attended classes –that’s an awful lot of talking!”

The group has also twice presented short plays as part of the St Andrews Day celebrations in Holy Trinity Church, and has featured in a special St Andrews Day programme filmed by BBCBeebies.

“It has been a splendid 10 years,” Barbara added.

“Children have grown, developed, spoken, acted and presented themselves with confidence and pride – and we look forward to the next ten years here in St Andrews!”