Hi Jackie — tell us a bit about StageAbility
StageAbility is a kids’ part-time drama school. We run weekly after school classes for kids in Reception right up to age 16+ in and around Reading. We also run holiday workshops and put on a couple of big shows a year with weekend rehearsals, so we offer a range of kids’ drama activities — something for everyone!
So is it best suited to young budding actors?
It’s certainly not restricted to the confident kids desperate to get on stage! Our weekly classes are also perfect for kids needing a confidence boost or who feel uncomfortable speaking in public or performing. Being able to present to a group is an important life-skill. I’ve seen many kids develop to the point where they are able to stand up in front of people, speak clearly and feel really good about themselves. But we also have confident kids who love being on stage — and they can really inspire their peers!
How do you manage to get an unconfident child to perform?
We have a very nurturing ethos and I’m really keen to develop children’s confidence. I have 3 teachers and 3 assistants who develop the children. They are expert at taking things step by step with kids and letting them develop at their own pace, without pressure. We have several children with special needs and they really benefit from the life skills and self-esteem that our drama activities provide.
Has anyone in particular developed in a way that you wouldn’t have predicted?
Never underestimate children — they just need the space to blossom. A girl called Millie joined StageAbility when she was 11. She seemed awkward about being on stage but was happy to blend into the chorus and let the others take the limelight. Over the years her confidence really grew. Within 4 years she had the skills and love of drama to be our Pantomime Dame and has owned this role over the last few years! Not only that but she went on to study childcare and has come back to work as an assistant, so she’s now able to help children in our classes. She has such a good understanding of the challenges they face and how to overcome them. I’m so proud of her!
Can parents and carers get involved if they’d like to?
Yes of course! Mille’s mum started helping a bit when Mille joined and now she runs our front of house for all the big shows! My husband, my father and a couple of StageAbility parents are very enthusiastic about sorting out the props and sets and we need around twenty parents to help at the theatre for each show which is fantastic and creates a nice community around StageAbility Berkshire. We are lucky to have access to a huge store of costumes, so we don’t have to ask parents to produce costumes — that’s a relief for many people!
How does HulaHub fit in?!
I love running StageAbility but getting the bookings in and doing the admin can take time that I’d rather spend with the kids and preparing for shows. So running that side of things through HulaHub frees up my time to do what I like doing best — getting involved in the drama!
To book kids’ drama classes in Berkshire click here.