Who will be leading my creative experience?
We are only as good as our people...
Hello there! Thanks for checking out Grace Studios. My name is Anna Grace and I am the proud director of this niche creative hub. More than just my own business, Grace Studios is an extension of my values and goals, so talking about the studio also requires a short story about myself…
Starting drama at the age of five, I soon found it to be a passionate and inspiring part of my life. I attribute much of my confidence, sense of self, academic achievement, communication skills, love of learning, and of course accomplishment in the performing arts arena, to the classes I began so very long ago. A dyslexic child, I did not take to reading and writing as quickly as others, so my mother decided I needed a more flexible learning environment that would allow me to communicate in other ways.
It was in my Speech and Drama lessons that I began to love language. Although struggling with my literacy at school, I had no trouble remembering the obscure words in Roald Dahl’s poems or memorising lines from my favourite prose texts. I found I learnt differently by listening and speaking, rather than simply reading and writing. The spontaneity of improvisation allowed me to take risks in a non-judgmental environment and my success hinged only on my willingness to ‘have a go’. This experience changed my whole outlook on life and my relationship with education. I transformed from a child who lacked confidence and never wanted to go to school into a passionate public speaker and debater, a regular on the stage and a lover of literature.
It is because I can’t imagine my own life without drama (only the good kind) that I was inspired to become an AMEB Speech and Drama teacher and to open up my own studio.
I believe the skills which speech and drama offers are interdisciplinary and are some of the most valuable gifts that can be given to a child. Communication is central to all of the roles we play in both our professional and private lives. Whether students are joining us as mature aged professionals looking to enhance their public speaking abilities, as young people searching for a gateway into a career in the arts, or as children wanting to extend their support network and make new friends, there are important life skills that every student can take away from our lessons. I hope to pass on the same inspiration, passion, self-discipline and support that my teacher gave to me. It is wonderful to know that already some of my students are passing on these gifts to students of their own.
Each year the Grace Studios network extends a little wider. It is a great privilege to offer this kind of educational service to the Sutherland Shire community and I am committed to expanding and strengthening creative arts opportunities in the Southern Sydney region
Students who have completed all of their AMEB Drama and Performance grades may be eligible to attempt their Certificate of Drama and Performance Australia and, following this, the Associate Diploma of Teaching. These are rigorous courses which require many years of preparation and dedication. Prior to attempting the completion these qualifications, students may have undergone up to ten years of study with an additional 2-3 years training required for the final certifications. To help candidates to transition from the role of the ‘student’ into that of the ‘teacher’ the studio offers traineeships which provide an opportunity for candidates to put their work into practice, build rapport with the students whom they will come to instruct, and learn from existing class teachers. Candidates not only assist with the teaching of Stage One classes, they also spend time constructing lesson plans and writing teaching evaluations that help them to correctly assess the students’ needs as well as their own.
Additionally, Year 10 students completing work placement as part of their school led careers week training can apply for work experience at Grace Studios. Students accepted into this program will explore various components of teaching in the arts, programming and the day-to-day operations of managing a studio and staging productions.
Sarah writes - 'Drama has always been a significant part of my life. Performances, whether on stage, screen or even at home, are created and enacted every day. That’s why I believe it is so very important for individuals, especially youth, to understand the power of speech and drama in its ability to grow new relationships and help us to express complex feelings and ideas.
I have been acting since the age of seven, as part of local Sutherland Shire drama groups and later for the completion of group AMEB Drama and Communication, and solo Speech and Performance examinations. In my final years of high school I was selected to attend Newtown High School of the Performing Arts where I was also able to perform in a number of company plays. Today, I am completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney, where I major in Theatre and Performance Studies and English Literature. I am also a member of the Sydney University Dramatic Society through which I have been able to craft and star in a number of dramatic works with other like minded individuals.
I look forward to working closely with the teaching staff and students of Grace Studios as I complete my Australian Performance Certificate and begin preparations for my AMEB Teaching Associate in 2020.'
Fletcher is a Year 10 student completing work experience as part of his study at St John Bosco College. During this work experience, Fletcher hopes to learn more about behind the scenes work at Grace Studios and would love to gain more insight into teaching, as it is a path he is looking into for the future.
Fletcher’s first exposure to the creative industries was through dancing and cheerleading in his early years at primary school. He began acting when he was eight and has loved it ever since his very first lesson. Apart from acting, Fletcher also has experience in stage management, front of house, ticket sales, ushering, communications and being a stage hand, working with The Art Umbrella, Sydney Theatre Company and NIDA. Fletcher also ran his very own volunteer drama program, teaching students in years five and six.
Fletcher is currently taking elective drama in school and will continue this into his senior years. Fletcher has enjoyed working with Anna Grace at Bosco College through the Theatre Sports program and recently completed his grade 5 AMEB Speech and Drama Practical Examination with his teacher, Lauren, at Grace Studios.
But there's more. . .
Lauren is a passionate and dedicated teacher who exhibits a high level of skill directing large ensembles as well as coaching individual students. Lauren has completed her certificate of Drama and Performance Australia, and holds an Associate Diploma of Teaching (AMEB). Having trained under Anna Grace for the past ten years, and taught at the studio for the last three years, Lauren strongly contributes to the culture of the studio and its community values of creativity, kindness and excellence. Lauren has performance experience in both the digital world and upon the stage, including improvisation competitions, Shakespearian festivals, theatre appearances, radio ads, digital ads and billboard campaigns. Lauren’s academic background includes marketing and communications and she is also qualified as a mindset coach (NLP), helping clients to work through personal roadblocks and develop positive habits.
Liz is well known for her achievements as a singing teacher, with a Professional Performers Diploma from the Australian Guild of Music (High Distinction). Lizzy has starred in a range of different musical societies around the Shire and beyond, including, Adelaide and Sydney Fringe Festival. Liz was Musical Director for SMT’s 2018 production of Miracle on 34thStreet and provides adjudication for vocal eisteddfods. Liz also has many years of experience as a dancer and, as part of her professional development and upskilling, has also completed up to grade eight in AMEB Speech and Drama, with High Distinction. Liz intends to sit for her Certificate of Drama and Performance Australia in 2020 and draws on her AMEB theoretical knowledge of phonetics, voice production and accent to assist with students’ classical training and character development in voice classes.
As well as being a top mechatronics and computer science student currently studying and teaching in the Department of Engineering at UNSW, Steven holds a Certificate of Drama and Performance Australia and an Associate Diploma of Teaching (AMEB). Steven has been recognised by the AMEB as an outstanding performer, showcasing his work at the annual AMEB Speech and Drama State Conference. Steven has starred in a range of youth theatre productions in Australia and internationally, and more recently as a lead in the UNSW CSE Review, an annual sketch comedy. In is free time, Steven is highly involved with the Scouting movement, and has directed large management teams for scouts. Steven is process driven and loves to bring technology into his creative arts and communications classes. Steven previously worked at JAR Areospace developing STEM programs that will feature in the new education system for the Australian Airforce Cadets. Recently, Steven built a robot that is responsive to sound to help drama students improve their vocal modulation, as well as an artificial intelligence system (AI) that composes poetry.
Emma has been studying AMEB Speech and Drama for the past ten years and holds a certificate of Drama and Performance Australia and an Associate Diploma of Teaching (AMEB). When finishing school in 2016, Emma was placed on the Distinguished Achievers list for her HSC Drama Studies and received and ‘On Stage’ nomination. That same year, Emma was also the recipient of the annual Grace Studios Perpetual Award for her performance of her self devised HSC monologue, featuring mastery of four accents – a skill she is now known for. As a student teacher completing her Bachelor of Primary Education (Notre Dame), and as a before and after school care Education Leader, Emma is always thinking about her role as an educator and is passionate about working with children. Emma enjoys programming and designs engaging classes that closely map students’ needs and interests.
Nikola Taylor holds a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts from Excelsia College and is currently undertaking her Masters of Teaching (Secondary) at the same institute. Training at The Acting Corps in Los Angeles has been a highlight of Nicola’s creative arts education. It was here that she developed her passion for physical theatre specialising in styles such as Commedia dell’arte. Nikola’s focus on the body also stems from her dedication to dance. With more than nineteen years of dance experience, Nikola competed professionally before becoming a dance instructor herself. Nikola works with students in both drama and musical theatre to help them to refine their sense of body and movement.
Alexandra graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Creative Arts and a Diploma of Arts, majoring in Theatre, Creative Writing and English Literature. Alexandra also holds a Masters in Primary Teaching from the University of Sydney. For Alexandra, drama has always been as much about creative writing as it is about acting. Alexandra's areas of expertise include scripting and the study of theatrical literature. Today Alex is a keen poet and an innovative playwright. Alexandra is currently undertaking her second Masters, a degree in gifted education.