In 2014 Mark (Wedgie) Hedges, Carrie Grant and I had finished the Oliver! tour and I decided to expand the masterclasses into longer courses which now consist of 1 – 4 days of fun for us and a bunch of 7 – 15 year olds. Mark and Carrie present fully rehearsed musical numbers and we also bring in industry professionals to train the children in various different skills on each course. We have included stage fighting, mime, dialect, puppetry and props and had many interesting wounds created in our make up sessions with Nyssa Addison which the students love. We even featured an owl who is often seen in film and on television. Elizabeth Keates’ wonderful photographs are all over this website. We have covered aerial skills and Ben Haynes and his team of the amazing company Freedom Flying have taught the children how to fly like Peter Pan – these sessions are extremely popular. On the last afternoon we give a presentation to parents and finish with a Q&A – for parents this is a weird and wonderful world their children are getting into and they are often quite confused by it all. It is terrific to be able to guide and advise.
These courses are as much fun for us as they are for the children and it is important to me that they not only learn lots of things, but also notice that there are people teaching all these activities. In our profession there are many careers to be considered that are nothing to do with performing and I like to feel that I am opening their eyes to the myriad of possibilities. I have never performed – unless you count playing the back end of a horse in panto at the Theatre Royal Windsor when I was an ASM! But seriously it has never been my dream to do so – indeed I know I would suffer the very worst stage fright imaginable! I have been a dresser, stage manager, PA to a producer and for the last 26 years a casting director specialising in children. I absolutely love what I do and have absolutely no intention of retiring any time soon! I have been privileged to work on some amazing productions with amazing people and it is often said that I am lucky and unusual and, yes I am, so it is great fun to pass some of my knowledge and experience on to children. The photographs here give an indication of the tremendous fun that we have.
We run our longer courses in Marlow, Bucks but also run one day courses in London and further afield. In May we ran a four day course in Dubai – the furthest that we have taken the courses abroad. We are hoping to go back on October 2018.
I would like to thank my wonderful friends Wedgie and Carrie without whom I could not run the courses as successfully as I do.