The Stage Scholarships 2017: Pauline Quirke Academy
This year, the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts makes history as a partner in The Stage Scholarships scheme when it offer more than 100 free places at its schools nationwide. Once again the school is offering a scholarship at every one of its locations, but it now boasts a grand total of 104 sites across the country.
For the winners, aged between six and 18, there’s help to cover tuition fees – including three hours of lessons in musical theatre, comedy, drama, film and television – plus uniforms, masterclasses and Trinity College London group exams.
Each of the recipients will receive £1,056 worth of help, with the overall value of the PQA 2017 provision standing at nearly £110,000.
But, says PQA creative director Adam Davenport, the benefits of its training can’t be summed up in this list alone. As its slogan (“Be yourself, be amazing”) suggests, it believes in encouraging the extraordinary in every young performer.
“Some young people join classes to enjoy themselves and build up their confidence, others wish to develop their skills in acting and singing, while a number hope to pursue a career in the profession. It’s as much about developing the individual as it is about developing the performer,” Davenport explains.
Who better to test that claim than some of last year’s young winners?
One of the youngest was Cory Jenkins, from PQA Exeter, who won at the age of six. “I love PQA, it’s the best day of the week,” he says. “I love the warm-up, dancing and definitely the filming and using the camera. I love getting performer of the week!”
Harry Walters from Tunbridge, who was aged 17 when he won, is proof that PQA training caters for those who may be contemplating a professional career: “I’ve enjoyed PQA since day one, it’s always a great environment and atmosphere. I felt welcome right from the start. I’ve got to perform in places I never thought I would and learned things that I will take with me into the future.”
One of PQA’s strengths is that its founder herself had her eyes opened to acting by an inspirational teacher, the legendary Anna Scher, who gave dozens of young Londoners their first taste of theatre and sent many on to professional success. Pauline Quirke, whose TV career began in her teens before starring in a host of programmes including Birds of a Feather, was one of them.
Her formula, launched with husband Steve Sheen, has proved remarkably successful since starting just a decade ago in 2007. Today, PQA sites stretch the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.
And while many students attend to build confidence and develop life skills, PQA provides ample opportunity for those with ambitions of achieving a career on stage, film and television.
Every year there are opportunities to take part in PQA’s productions at two of the largest West End venues: Her Majesty’s and Shaftesbury theatres.
Youngsters studying the film and TV module are able to create their own short films, and every two years a number are shortlisted for a festival at Cineworld.
For those looking to appear in professional productions, PQA’s creative management agency, Quirky Kidz, has guided some students into West End and TV roles while always encouraging children to develop a proper understanding of the demands involved.
It’s this belief in bringing theatre and its opportunities to the largest possible number of children that explains PQA’s remarkable level of commitment to The Stage Scholarships.
Course: One-year musical theatre/film and TV/comedy and drama
Educational level: School age (after school/ at weekends)
Number of scholarships offered: Up to 104 (one per academy location)
Value of scholarship: £1,056 (£109,824 total)
What costs are covered? Tuition, uniform, masterclasses, group exam fees
Location? Various sites around the UK
Audition dates: These will take place on various dates in May and June
How do I apply? Applicants must fill in an application form available online at: pqacademy.com/pqa-stage-scholarships. The closing date for applications is May 1.