I cannot believe that this term marks our twentieth anniversary. 20 Years since my sister and I walked into St Mary’s Hall in Bexley Village, with a bag of fairy wings, Haribo and my stereo ready to start the first ATA class. 12 pupils were present, one being my niece and the other my 2nd cousin. My sister ‘worked the desk’ and dealt with parents and I taught for three and a half hours, covering all three theatre disciplines in one session and ATA was born.
Those 12 pupils stayed at ATA for many years, bringing friends, spreading the word and generally being brilliant. I am still in touch with a fair few of our original pupils, one is a professional women’s footballer, one is a TV actor ( most recently in a major Netflix series) one is a Professional Boxer, one is in the Metropolitan police, one is in Wicked in the West End in the role of Boq, another is a PA, two of them (twins) have a reality TV show, one is Entertainments Manager on a major Cruise Liner and one of them is a mother of four who I coached through her IDTA teaching qualifications and she teachers at ATA on Saturdays.Today we have 600 pupils attending 25 sessions each week. Our ethos is still firmly the same; creating affordable sessions for local children and providing as many opportunities for them as we possibly can. I am incredibly lucky to have a team of teachers who are fully invested in this vision.
My mum Jillian, who has managed our casting agency almost from day 1, has provided our pupils with substantial opportunities including performing at the Live X Factor final, seen by millions, performing at The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at Buckingham Palace for The Royal Family ( also seen by millions ) as well as regular filming opportunities with ITV for Scrambled, Saturday Mash-Up, performing with Diversity and George Samson and a wealth of major professional auditions for large-scale productions, films, commercials and TV series’s. Craig has continued his reign as one of the most exceptional drama teachers and directors in the business. collectively hehas entered around 4000 pupils for their annual LAMDA exams, and 20 years has seen a superb 100% pass rate, with the vast majority being Honours Grades. He has also secured trophy’s and medals across regional drama festivals, with ATA currently holding the ‘Over- all’ winners trophies in Acting, Verse & Prose, Poetry, Group Acting, Duologues and Shakespeare.
Amy, Zoe and Sophie have all worked at ATA for many years, always willing to put in extra hours to push our pupils to take on new opportunities and challenges. They have choreographed routines for our pupils at Sadlers Wells, Her Majesty’s, The Shaftesbury, The o2, The Stag, The Albert Hall, The Hawth, The Cliffs Pavilion, The Mick Jagger and The Orchard. They also boast an amazing 100% pass rates across all IDTA dance and Musical Theatre exams, again the vast majority being Honours Grades. I must also mention Sammy, Callum, Amber, Joseph and Leah who are also fully committed and wonderfully kind and inspirational teachers. It is well worth noting that Zoe, Leah, Callum, Amber and Joseph are all former ATA pupils themselves, something that brings me immense pride when I see them working with our students.
They instinctively know how ATA works and what makes our classes special.Hannah, is still at ATA 20 years on and along with Sam they do a sterling job ‘out front’ dealing with the ever- growing admin and organisational tasks that running such a large theatre school brings and we are a large theatre school, though still small and personalised in our thinking.I have been asked many times over the years why I don’t open more branches? or develop a franchise?, but the answer is simple. I have never wished to dilute and compromise the quality of what we offer our pupils. I believe we are unique in offering high-quality classes which have been (in some cases) life changing for our pupils. Many have moved on to train at major colleges; LAMDA, Rose Bruford, Brit, ArtsEd, Italia Conti. Bird, East 15, going on to have professional performance careers, and some have simply found the confidence to speak up in social settings. Most importantly they have all enjoyed their time at ATA and made like-minded friends for life.
I take this opportunity to thank you for being part of the ATA journey.