New central London drama school officially opened by Pauline Quirke
A new drama school has been officially opened by founders Pauline Quirke and her husband Steve Sheen, and its first-ever students have begun studying for a two-year diploma in performing arts.
The lucky 25 aspiring performers, who auditioned from all over the country, started their first term on September 10th and were treated to a grand opening event on 15th September at which they met the famous Birds of a Feather actress who warmly welcomed them to her first full-time academy.
The academy in Islington, London, is just a stone’s throw from where Pauline herself lived and went to school, and discovered acting, at the age of nine. The academy’s first cohort of 16-year-old students are from all corners of the UK, so many are also preparing to live away from home for the first time, as well as starting their training at this prestigious new college in the hope of entering the industry.
The Pauline Quirke Academy has taken over The Poor School in Pentonville Road, King’s Cross (which closed last year after three decades) and the building has been completely renovated and renamed PQA Studios London, and now boasts a fully equipped in-house theatre and several large, high spec studio spaces.
New students will be taught by an illustrious set of teachers, led by Artistic Director Adam Davenport, an ex-performer himself who has been teaching for 15 years. The teachers have impressive professional experience; many of them are currently also working at leading conservatoires and performing in the West End, alongside their roles at PQA.
The Birds of a Feather actress is well placed to lead the mentoring of future performers, having enjoyed 50 years in show-business and, for the past 10 years, also enjoyed great success running nearly 200-weekend performing arts schools across the UK, attended by over 15,000 children, in partnership with Steve. Her own son Charlie Quirke, now a successful actor himself, was her first young student at the Beaconsfield Academy.
The new audition-entry full-time academy marks a step-change for Pauline: it will fulfil her longstanding vision of providing full-time training for aspiring professionals, to offer them the best chance of gaining a place at drama school or University or going straight to work in the industry.
Pauline says: “Over the years, we have had many requests for further training from students and parents. We are now thrilled and extremely excited about the next chapter of PQA, with the launch of our full-time academy at PQA Studios London, catering for those students (both students attending our weekend Academies and further afield) who wish to take the next steps in furthering a career in the performing arts industry.”
“It feels like PQA is coming home, as Islington is where I grew up, and where I started my own training.”
The young Pauline’s after-school drama club produced famous actors such as her Birds of a Feather co-star Linda Robson, Kathy Burke, Martin Kemp and Patsy Palmer, and Pauline is hoping her new academy will also help to launch some of the raw talents of tomorrow.
Adam Davenport, Artistic Director says:
“This is an exciting day for everyone at PQA. It is an honour to be helping to shape the performers of the future and to be giving these young people the best possible full-time training so that they can follow a career in this wonderful industry.
“People often assume there are many places providing this level of training in London, but actually there are only a handful of options for Year 11 students who wish to attend a vocational 6th form specialising in the performing arts.
“We are minutes from the West End, and so, as well as building their technical skills during their intensive training, our students will also be able to soak up the atmosphere in the heart of the performing arts industry.”