Drama Classes For Kids - call out for New Students

Northumberland Academy for Performing Arts has only been running for a few months, but it's already establishing itself as one of the best in the county - and it's opening its doors now to take in more students.
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"We currently run two classes in Thropton, near Rothbury," co-founder and principal Paul Dunn told us, "and we already have a handful of students waiting to join, but we're now opening our doors wider and we'd love to hear from anyone aged 6 to 18 who would like to join our growing academy."

The Academy is run by husband-and-wife team Paul and Vanessa Dunn who, between them, have nearly 50 years of professional experience working as actors and writers in theatre, film and tv around the country. They trained at Redroofs Theatre School, around the same time as Kris Marshall, Joanne Froggatt, Dani Harmer, and Oscar-winner Kate Winslet. Most recently Paul has performed at the Sunday For Sammy concerts at the Newcastle Arena, and the Christmas at the Newcastle Cathedral charity concert, organised by Lindisfarne founding member Ray Laidlaw in aid of the Bobby Robson Foundation, sharing the stage with the likes of Jimmy Nail and the rest of the Auf Weidersehen Pet cast, Jonny Vegas, Scott Tyrell, James Baxter, and Chris and Rosie Ramsey.

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Vanessa said: "We moved to Northumberland nearly four years ago from Durham, and of course immediately fell in love with it, and where we live. What struck us most was the strong sense of community, and we really wanted to be a part of that and contribute to the community." It quickly occurred to them both that their skills and experience as professional actors and writers was something they could offer, "and that's how the drama academy started," Vanessa explained.

NAPA students performing on stageNAPA students performing on stage
NAPA students performing on stage

Not only does NAPA cover many aspects of performing - including acting, voice, devising, characterisation, public speaking and text study - it also strives to make sure students have fun and make friends in a safe environment, enhance their social skills and improve self-confidence.

As well as weekly classes, NAPA also runs week-long courses during the school holidays; they are planning their first one this summer. Vanessa said: "We've run these courses before and they're hard work but amazing fun! Basically, you put on a whole show in just one week! Arrive on the Monday morning, auditions and casting take place, then we spend the week rehearsing, learning lines, practising songs, choreographing dance routines, until we present a full-scale show - for a supportive and enthusiastic audience of family and friends - at the end of the week! There's nothing like the exhilaration these holiday courses provide - we love them!"

So what's next for NAPA? "We're setting up to be able to offer coaching for LAMDA exams for all our drama students," Paul told us, "which are not only a fantastic achievement in themselves but can also be used to claim UCAS points to assist University entry. Also, we were recently contacted by a London casting agency, asking us to submit youngsters to audition for a lead role in a Danny Boyle film, so we may look into setting up an acting agency in the future - which, of course, all our students would be a part of."

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If you would like to find out more about the Academy, or register your interest in securing a place for your child(ren), you can find all the information you need on their website: www.thenapa.co.uk

Students in the 11-15yrs class rehearsing a scriptStudents in the 11-15yrs class rehearsing a script
Students in the 11-15yrs class rehearsing a script

"Our new term starts after the Easter holidays," said Paul, "so don't delay if you'd like to join us. But we're always open to welcome new students into the academy, so just have a look at the website and get in touch. Who knows...? We could have a future BAFTA or Oscar winner right here in Northumberland!"

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