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Saturdays at ArtsEd are back!

Posted on: April 9th, 2021 by ArtsEd Admin

Following the government’s confirmation that the roadmap out of lockdown is on schedule we are delighted to announce that ArtsEd EXTRA, our Saturday School, is returning to in-person teaching from 17 April!  

One of the most popular weekend Schools in West London, our Saturday Skills Academy provides Musical Theatre and Acting courses for ages 7-16. Taught by industry professionals and teachers from our Day School, Sixth Form and Higher Education courses, Saturday School pupils receive top quality training whilst making new friends and having fun! 

The Academy is run by Jessie Hills and James Wilson, both graduates of ArtsEd’s BA (Hons) Acting course. Here they explain a bit more about the return to in-person teaching this April. 

James: “We are really excited to return to face-to-face teaching however we also know that there may be anxiety among parents regarding safety. Rest assured we have lots of measures in place to be Covid-compliant, meaning pupils can concentrate on what we do best – having fun and exploring the wonderful world of performing arts!

Jessie: “ArtsEd is a fully-functioning Day School, Sixth Form and Higher Education institution, so lots of safety measures are already in place within the building. For our Saturday classes, this means we are able to offer Covid-compliant procedures right from the first session back.” 

ArtsEd EXTRA safety measures include: 

Jessie: “The school building is ‘fogged’ on Friday eveningwhen all the full-time teachers and students have left for the weekend. This is a deep cleaning process, which is very effective. Our studios are cleaned and sanitised on a Saturday morning just before we start teaching, as well. The school really has been great in supporting us to ensure we can safely reintroduce face-to-face teaching on our EXTRA courses.” 

The need to provide online, blended learning when schools were closed means we are prepared for anything if the government guidelines changeSaturday classes will always continue in one format or another. 

James: “When schools were forced to close, we proved that we could adapt with very short notice! We are now confident in our ability to deliver classes online and can switch to virtual learning with very little fuss. But with everything opening up again, and the roadmap out of lockdown on track, we’re just eager to get everyone back in the building. Zoom has sparked some lovely, creative projects in the performing arts industry but at the end of the day live theatre is supposed to be just that – LIVE! 

Jessie: “We’re really fortunate to have pupils and parents who have stuck with us through online classes and are returning for the new term. But there are some spaces available for newcomers, and now really is the time to join us. This term is going to be so much fun! 

For the Summer term, the Saturday Academy is focussing on a Disney compilation show that will be performed in our in-house venue, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Theatre.  

Musical Theatre students will be exploring songs, dances and scenes from Disney musicals and the actors will be using Disney characters to create their own unique scenes. The show will be performed in June. 

For more information and to book, click here

PHOTOS: Tess Henderson

Jonathan O’Boyle Appointed as Director of the School of Musical Theatre

Posted on: March 26th, 2021 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd is delighted to announce the appointment of Jonathan O’Boyle to the role of Director of the School of Musical Theatre, effective November this year. 

Jonathan, who is from Derbyshire, trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama and then went on to study directing at Birkbeck, University of London where he graduated with an MFA in Theatre Directing. He continued his training working with Jonathan Church at Chichester Festival Theatre and Daniel Evans at Sheffield Crucible. He has also held the position of Associate Director at Theatre503. 

He won Best Director of a Musical and Best Musical Production at the 2021 Off West End Awards for his production of The Last Five Years (Southwark Playhouse). His 2017 production of Hair (UK Tour/The Vaults/Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester) won Best Off West End Production at the WhatsOnStage Awards and will continue to tour internationally when theatres reopen. 

Jonathan’s extensive CV includes directing credits for Bill Kenwright (Cruel IntentionsRain Man), This House, for Headlong and National Theatre, and a series of plays at Trafalgar Theatre; BASHRasheeda Speaking, and A Guide for the Homesick. He directed The View Upstairs (Soho Theatre) and for Southwark Playhouse, Pippin, and Aspects of Love. In 2019 he directed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Cadogan Hall. 

On his appointment Jonathan said: 

“I am truly thrilled to be joining the ArtsEd family as the Director of the School of Musical Theatre.  As one of the leading drama schools in the country, with the UK’s premier training course in Musical Theatre, ArtsEd is firmly at the top of its game. I have always had the most joyous time working with the students at ArtsEd, and I can’t wait to continue that work and shape the future of the course.  

We are entering a challenging time in the arts sector. As we begin the road to recovery after the devastation of COVID-19, drama training will continue to evolve and change with the times. I am looking forward to that challenge, being at the centre of a school that strives for excellence.” 

In addition to his own directing career, Jonathan has worked with and assisted leading directors including Susan Stroman, Jonathan Church, Jeremy Herrin, Daniel Evans, Clare Lizzimore, and Jessica Swale. He assisted Christopher Wheeldon on An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre and Neil Armfield on The Judas Kiss in Toronto and New York. 

For ArtsEd, Jonathan directed Nice Work If You Can Get It (2019) and will direct The Wedding Singer later this year. His appointment starts in November, after the autumn half-term, as he is directing Top Hat at The Mill at Sonning in September. This production will be Jonathan’s last show for a while as he shifts focus to concentrate on this new, exciting role. Jonathan will succeed Chris Hocking, Principal of ArtsEd since 2017 and Director of the School of Musical Theatre since 2006. 

Chris Hocking said: 

“I am delighted to confirm this fantastic appointment and welcome Jonathan to the ArtsEd family! His award-winning theatre career speaks for itself, and I’m certain he will add huge value to ArtsEd’s musical theatre training in what is an ever-changing landscape. I very much look forward to working with Jonathan as I hand over the School of Musical Theatre curriculum to him.” 

Photo: Nick Rutter

David Ian donates £250k to ArtsEd capital campaign

Posted on: February 25th, 2021 by ArtsEd Admin

In a week of positive news for the performing arts and education sectors, we are delighted to announce a major donation of £250,000 from David IanThis key gift launches our fundraising campaign for the ArtsEd Playhouse, the final phase of a ten-year, £20 million investment in our Chiswick home. This summer will see the official opening of the most recent element of this exciting project, a three-storey extension into an underused courtyard that includes new rehearsal rooms, dance studios and classrooms. The project was launched in 2013 with the creation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Theatre.  

The ArtsEd Playhouse will replace the old Studio Theatre, enabling students to develop the skills required to perform in more intimate spaces and ensuring that we can continue to stage more than 20 professional standard productions per year. 

David Ian was appointed as a trustee to our board in November 2020. Chief Executive of his eponymous production company, and the recipient of five Olivier awards and three Tony nominations, David is a world-renowned theatre producer with a highly successful career spanning over 30 years.  

David said: 

“As a long-time friend to, and supporter of ArtsEd, I was delighted to be appointed to their Board of Trustees last year. Their Chiswick home has undergone a remarkable renovation and extensive addition to its facilities, ensuring it will remain at the forefront of performing arts training in the UK for many years to come. I’m pleased to kickstart their final round of fundraising, which will allow for the building of the ArtsEd Playhouse and complete their capital campaign.” 

David took a tour of the new building in December, and Chris Hocking, Principal of ArtsEd, was pleased to show him the rehearsal studio named after him.  

Chris said:  

David’s generous donation means we are now close to finishing what has been a ten-year project to improve and increase the facilities of our Chiswick home. This investment in ArtsEd demonstrates David’s commitment to supporting us as we provide world-leading training in the performing arts, despite the many challenges to our industry over the last year. I can’t wait to welcome audiences to the new ArtsEd Playhouse very soon!” 


Photo: Robin Savage

ArtsEd MA Acting – The Perfect Launch Pad

Posted on: February 8th, 2021 by ArtsEd Admin

Photo: MA students rehearsing Love & Information, 2020. Photographer: Steve Gregson

“The biggest misconception about our course is that it’s academic – a theoretical study,” says Simone Coxall, joint leader of the MA Acting course at ArtsEd, “when it couldn’t be further from that!” 

Simone speaks with passion, as does her co-leader, Richard Neale, when it comes to describing the course. “It’s vocational training. Rigorous, focused and intensive vocational actor training. People hear ‘MA’ and assume they will be writing essays about theatre.” Richard jumps in to qualify, “but our MA a one-year, professional actor training course. 

This is important for many reasons, says Richard. “There is the fundamental difference between academic and vocational in terms of the curriculum and learning, which is no small thing. Then there’s the funding element. Although the ArtsEd MA is a vocational course it is still eligible for government funding, a fact that is not widely known. People may be put off at the prospect of fees, but financial help is there if you look for it.”  

An online search for ‘postgraduate funding’ reveals encouraging government support for MA studies (more than £11k can be available for UK residents, for example), and there are several other options for support. Student finance, in the form of loans similar to those for undergraduates, is available. Funding options exist for single parents, low-income families, care givers and care leavers, disabled applicants, migrant students and more. Richard strongly advises applicants to look through all the information on the government website, which is linked at the bottom of this article. “Funding isn’t necessarily reliant on applicants having an undergraduate degree, either”, he says.

Which brings us to another misconception about the Acting MA – the idea that you must have an undergraduate degree in order to apply. “You don’t need to have done a degree to qualify for our course,” Simone confirms. “In terms of funding it’s not a necessity, as long as you fulfil other criteria and as long as the course you are applying for is eligiblewhich ours is. But entrance is not all about funding, anyway.” 

So, what is the criteria for the ArtsEd MA in Acting? What are Simone and Richard looking for in applicants? “Applicants need to know they want to be an actor!” says Simone. “An applicant must be hungry, curious, hardworkingWe are seeking a really interesting, diverse cohort of students that demand something of themselves in a rehearsal room. I can’t give a tick list of attributes or experience we are looking for, because our course is very much led by the group. Every year will be different.”

Richard agrees. “We get inspiration from our students. The impetus comes from within the year group. It’s the lived experience of the students, and the wonderful individuality of those experiences that affects how we study and interpret a text. We aren’t gatekeepers of art. Art is a shared experience, and that’s how we work, every day with our MA students.” Simone is also keen to emphasise that “we aren’t looking for the finished article. Just as with any Actor training course, we’re looking for potential, and an eagerness to learn.” 

As joint course leaders, the pair complement each other brilliantly, often helping to finish a thought or evolve an idea. As Richard puts it, “we work differently towards the same outcome, and wrestle with ideas together, bashing around until we come to a meeting point and then ‘bing!’ we hit upon the same solution!”  

When it comes to their teaching style, and methods, they are completely aligned. “Simone and I teach through offers, suggestions, and guidance” says Richard. “It’s about personal exploration as opposed to ‘this is right, that’s wrong’, which is vocabulary that we don’t use on our course. It’s about unlocking, harnessing, and sharpening the thoughts and curiosity of our students.”  

As new course leaders, Simone and Richard take seriously their responsibility to consider the relevance and ongoing development of their curriculum, particularly given the current conversations and progress across the industry. “We are interested in keeping hold of the traditions that are constructive, and rethinking those that are less constructive, less useful now. We retain only the techniques and training that are actually useful for the actor working in the modern, progressive world.” 

Supporting them in their vision is Julie Spencer, Director of the School of Acting, to whom they directly report. Since her appointment two years ago, Julie has developed the ArtsEd Acting curriculum to decolonise techniques and training, and bring the students’ cultural experiences into the conversation, throwing off the long-established Eurocentric approach of ‘we say, you do’. In a recent article by Lyn Gardner for The Stage, Julie set out her stall: “Actor training can’t remain static. If you have different students in the room, you have to respond to that. It’s about widening the canon and the curriculum, not losing rigour.” 

Why a one-year MA? 

Simone and Richard are keen to emphasise that the MA Acting course is not a three-year course simply crammed into one. “This is a course for many different types of people, different ages, with different skills and experiences, but perhaps with one major thing in common, which is that they have not taken the ‘standard’ route to vocational drama training” says Simone. Both go on to discuss the various circumstances a person might find themselves in when considering a one-year course instead of a three-year degree. Some are older than the average undergraduate, and perhaps pursued a different avenue before discovering a passion for acting. The course attracts a lot of musical theatre graduates, both from the UK and, particularly, America who decide they would like to spend a year sharpening their acting skills and technique. Others have some professional experience already and don’t feel it necessary to go right back to basics with a three-year course. The age range in the current MA cohort is 22 to 55, which Simone and Richard say is “brilliant – so exciting! It’s closer to what you’d expect to find in a professional company of actors. 

What about the training? 

“The one-year format isn’t a diluted degree,” says Richard “it’s just accelerated. It’s intense. It’s highly focused work, eight and a half hours a day, five days a week, where we jump straight in, full throttle. There’s less time for slowly discovering oneself, which is fine because our students don’t sign up for that – they want to get cracking from day one, exploring a text and bringing it to life. Just like in a professional rehearsal room, that’s what we do!” Simone describes the MA process as “grabbing everything from around you and really making demands on yourself in that one year of focused work.” Both are keen to underline their understanding of the emotional challenges of career in the performing arts and their commitment to preparing their graduates for the rigours inherent in the profession. “Our students leave us with the tools and skills they need to keep themselves physically and emotionally robust for the industry,” says Simone.  

The future 

Simone and Richard are excited to develop the MA in Acting course at ArtsEd and continue to push the boundaries of what it can achieve for its students. Both are strong advocates of diversity“It becomes a positive feedback loop” says Simone. “If we create a truly diverse cohort our course becomes responsive and reactive to that cohort. The ‘who and the ‘what’ of our texts and our work is moved and shaped by that unique set of actors, working collaboratively. It becomes transformative.” 

For more information and to apply: MA in Acting

For more information about MA funding: UK Government website

ArtsEd Alumni spring to fame in hit TV shows this January!

Posted on: January 28th, 2021 by ArtsEd Admin

We’re all looking for some gripping TV shows to get us through those dark January evenings! Thankfully, our alumnus Omari Douglas (BA Musical Theatre, 2015) and recent graduate Isabella Pappas (Sixth Form, 2020) have been gracing our screens during primetime.

Omari is a series lead in brand new channel 4 hit: It’s A Sin, written by Russell T Davies. Isabella has appeared in star-studded ITV series: Finding Alice. Since hitting our screens this winter, both Omari and Isabella have been listed on I Talk Telly’s The 21 TV Stars of Tomorrow 2021, so there’s exciting times ahead for these two young stars.

In It’s A Sin, Omari plays the lead role of Roscoe Babatunde alongside Years and Years singer, Olly Alexander. The series is set during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s. and since its release on 22 January, audiences have gone wild for it. Omari has been interviewed on a number of platforms discussing Roscoe’s extroverted character, and how people like him shaped the gay landscape for future generations:

In new ITV drama Finding Alice, Isabella plays the role of Alice and Harry’s 16-year-old daughter Charlotte. The cast also stars: Keeley Hawes, Joanna Lumley, ArtsEd alumnus and Patron, Nigel Havers, Jason Merrells, Gemma Jones, Kenneth Cranham and Sharon Rooney. You can read more about the show and Isabella’s experience in our news story. Since Finding Alice was released on 17 January, Isabella has chatted about the show on Channel Four’s Sunday Brunch and BBC Radio London. She has also appeared on a number of online platforms talking about her experience (and her favourite books!):

We are delighted to see two of our alumni playing lead roles in new TV shows this year, and we hope you will be tuning in if you haven’t already!

Chris Hornby Bursary Scholar takes to the stage at ArtsEd

Posted on: January 20th, 2021 by ArtsEd Admin

Chris Hornby’s legacy continues at ArtsEd with this year’s bursary awarded to Maria Conneely, a third-year student on the Musical Theatre course.

The Chris Hornby Bursary Fund was founded in memory of Chris in 2015. At the time of his death, Chris was the Resident Director for Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, having performed the same role for Cameron Mackintosh on his production of Oliver! at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  Over the years Chris had worked as a choreographer, dance captain, and actor.

Chris was loved and respected throughout the industry and especially well known for his love of nurturing young upcoming talent. As a former ArtsEd student and bursary recipient himself, Chris knew the vital role that bursaries play in a young person’s journey into the performing arts industry.

We are enormously grateful for the wonderful support from Tim English, Chris’s partner, and so many of Chris’s friends and family, all of whom have been instrumental in fundraising for the bursary.

2020 saw a special milestone reached when Jacob Thomas, the first Chris Hornby Bursary Scholar, completed his BA in Musical Theatre, having been supported by the Fund throughout his training.

Jacob Thomas said: “The support I have received not only financially but emotionally from Tim and the Chris Hornby bursary has been a crucial factor in my development and completing my degree. This has been a life changing opportunity that would not have been possible without the bursary. I am so excited to see where my career takes me, and to make Tim and Chris proud.”

This year’s recipient, Maria Conneely, is thrilled to be awarded the Chris Hornby Bursary.

Maria said: “I feel so honoured and privileged to have received the Chris Hornby Bursary this year. The financial support makes such a different to myself and my parents, for this we are so grateful. This aside, however, the emotional support I’ve received as a Chris Hornby Scholar is impossible to put a price on. I’m so grateful to have met Tim and to be welcomed into his family as a scholar, I can’t really imagine not knowing him now! This bursary is so precious to me and has already supported me in so many ways in my final year of training. For the rest of my career, I will do my best to make Tim, and all the supporters of the fund, extremely proud.”

You can see Maria performing two solo pieces onstage in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Theatre in her showreel and explore the class of 2021 here.

Tim English said: “I’m thrilled that the Chris Hornby Bursary is now providing help and mentoring to its second talented student at ArtsEd, Maria Conneely.  Chris was a great advocate for younger performers and seeing our scholars shine warms my heart and comforts me that his death has not been in vain.
To see our first scholar, Jacob Thomas, grow and progress through his training has been wonderful and to be able to provide that opportunity to someone whose talent my otherwise have gone unnoticed is exactly why this bursary was set up. One of my personal highlights was seeing Jacob in his first professional show, ‘Soapdish’, at the Turbine Theatre, starring Louise Dearman, a great friend of Chris’ and a wonderful supporter of the bursary.
I’m determined that the Chris Hornby Bursary should continue to provide funds and mentoring for as many students as we can. Everyone with a dream to perform deserves a little help.”

Since the fund’s launch, an incredible £30,000 has been raised to help students with exceptional talent who need financial support to fulfil their dreams.  Thank you to everyone who has supported the Fund, from all of us at ArtsEd.

If you would like to donate to the Chris Hornby Bursary Fund, you can do so here, be sure to select the fund in the drop down option.

Lashana Lynch Video Completes ArtsEd Centenary Celebrations!

Posted on: December 18th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd was officially 100 years old in 2019!

Throughout 2019/20 we have celebrated this milestone with some of our most successful alumni in a series of videos recently published on our new YouTube channel.

We have now released all of our videos, the final one being a conversation with star of stage and screen, Lashana Lynch!

Lashana will soon appear on cinema screens as Agent Nomi in the new James Bond movie: No Time To Die.

In her centenary video she shares her ArtsEd experience and how training on our Acting course influenced her brilliant career.

On the 100 years of ArtsEd celebrations, Chris Hocking, Principal, said:

“In 2019 we began what we thought would be a year of centenary celebrations marking 100 years since Grace Cone founded her school, which would merge with Olive Ripman’s to form the Cone Ripman School, subsequently named Arts Educational Schools. 2020 proved to be a year like no other, however we’ve recently released our video series, 100 Years in 100 Seconds featuring some of our most successful alumni. We’re thrilled to share our last video, which rounds off our celebrations in spectacular fashion – Lashana Lynch discussing her ArtsEd experience and how our Acting course has influenced her brilliant career. We recently took ownership of our brand new building and will officially launch its studios, classrooms and rehearsal spaces in Spring 2021. We’re already looking ahead and preparing for the next 100 years of world-leading performing arts training!”

See Lashana’s video below and head to our YouTube channel to check out the rest in the series featuring: Miriam-Teak Lee, Stephen Whitson, Danny Mac, Nigel Harman, Islam Bouakkaz, and Thomas Dennis.

Video production: Bad Madam

Saturdays at ArtsEd – Keep Covid Compliant and Carry On!

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd is renowned for it’s performing arts professional training and award-winning independent Day School and Sixth Form, however we also provide a whole host of evening, weekend and holiday courses run by full-time, expert staff.

Covid-19 had a huge impact on how all education providers deliver their curriculum, and it was no different for the ArtsEd EXTRA team who run these popular weekend and part-time courses.

Jessie Hills (EXTRA & Outreach Manager) and James Wilson (Administrator and Teacher) discuss the challenges they faced in 2020 and how they adapted to keep their courses open and available to pupils.

First lockdown – March – what is ‘Zoom’?!

Jessie: “When we went into the first lockdown and were told we could not continue face-to-face teaching, I immediately contacted all of our parents and students and assured them that classes would continue online. If you remember, nobody had really heard of Zoom and performing arts teachers were suddenly faced with adapting their lessons so they could teach from their kitchen or bedroom! Fortunately, ArtsEd was already set-up with Google Classrooms and so we quickly started working out how to adapt to an online platform without compromising the quality of our teaching and the experience of the students.”

James: “We set the students our ‘8-week Online Challenge’, to give them something to focus on and work towards, but honestly it was a challenge for us as well! At that point, we were delivering pre-recorded material only, something we learned a huge amount from.”

Summer School – engaging new students!

Jessie: “We took what we learned from our Saturday sessions into our Summer courses, where we introduced live elements as well as pre-recorded material. This was so important. We always have new students on our summer courses, and we didn’t want their first experience of ArtsEd to be all video recordings – we wanted that interaction. We wanted to (as much as possible) recreate the atmosphere of our Chiswick home and our studios.”

James: “Summer was incredible! Our teaching staff adapted to online class delivery and worked their socks off to ensure our students not only developed their skills but also had a great time. We were so proud of everyone, and the feedback from parents and students reassured us that it was the right decision to go ahead with the school and not cancel. It was worth all the effort to see our students flourish and bring so much energy to their computer screens!”

September – back to school!

James: “When the government guidelines allowed us to return to face-to-face teaching in September we were thrilled at the prospect of seeing everyone in-person again. However, we also knew that there would be anxiety among parents regarding safety, and we knew we had to put in lots of measures to become Covid-compliant.”

Jessie: “ArtsEd is a fully-functioning Day School, Sixth Form and Higher Education institution, so lots of safety measure were put into place over the summer ready for the return to classes in September. For our Saturday classes, this meant we were able to offer Covid-compliant procedures right from the first session back.”

ArtsEd EXTRA safety measures include:

Jessie: “The school building is also ‘fogged’ on a Friday evening when all the full-time teachers and students have left for the weekend. This is a deep cleaning process, which is very effective. Cleaning staff clean and sanitise our studios on a Saturday morning just before we start teaching, as well. The school really has been great in supporting us to ensure we can continue to hold our EXTRA courses.”

The need to provide online, blended learning means that no matter how the guidelines change, Saturday classes will always be able to continue in one format or another.

James: “We can adapt now with very short notice! It seems that every other week there is a new guideline or a fear that we will be in a tier that doesn’t allow face-to-face teaching. We are now really confident in our ability to deliver classes online – we can just swing into action, email all our parents and students and switch to virtual learning with very little fuss.”

January – what’s the plan?!

Jessie: “We are currently in tier 3, however our Saturday classes have finished for the term, so we don’t need to worry about that now until after Christmas. We won’t know until January what tier we’ll be in and how it will affect Saturdays at ArtsEd, but no matter what – we will be back on Saturday 9 January, ready and raring to go!

James: “We’ve made an additional change to our teaching for January. Whereas our singing lessons have all been done remotely since September, we have invested in visors for all our students, which means we can deliver them safely, in-person. Of course, if we are still in tier 3 in January then we’ll start the term with online learning, but the moment we are allowed back into the building, we’ll be there.”

Jessie: “James and I are so proud of all our students and staff for the achievements in 2020 – what a year it’s been – but we’ve soldiered on, and I know we will continue with this enthusiasm in the new year. Whatever the challenges are – bring it on!”

Parent & Student Feedback: 2020

“Just wanted to say a final thank you for the term’s work at ArtsEd. I think what you have achieved via remote learning is really excellent and you set the bar quite high for the children, which is a really good thing.”

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the ArtsEd EXTRA online course. My daughter enjoyed it so much – she really  looked forward to it every week. The course content and teaching was great and really made her think about how to create a character for performing and the google classrooms platform worked well. It was also good for her to get feedback with next steps for improving too. We live in a rural area and we are not usually able to access these kind of courses in person so the online version was a bonus for us.”

“I just wanted to say we really appreciate all that you are doing to make sure the online courses and lessons go ahead.  It must be a nightmare planning it all.  Lottie would be lost without it and it really keeps her motivated and challenged.”

“Annabel’s really excited about getting going with the online classes. Set up was very easy – and it’s the first time I’ve accessed google classroom. The instructions you sent were really clear.”

“Thank you so much for providing an online course this term. It is so frustrating for everyone in the performing arts and you’ve done a fantastic job of keeping the ArtsEd service going.”

“Thank you so much for providing the children with such wonderful content while they haven’t been able to come to their usual classes. It has been so fun for Lauren to be able to watch and follow all the tutorials and go back to them whenever she wants. She has absolutely loved the project and making the tapes was a great way to round it all off.  Thank you so much to you and your colleagues – I think the children must all have learnt so much!”

“Thanks for everything at ArtsEd this term. Lauren has loved every second and I think the blended learning approach you took was amazing in the circumstances.”

Just want to give you some very positive feedback on the Zoom Drama classes! I am extremely impressed with how engaging and entertaining the teacher is, with all the brilliant games and activities he organises for the children! They appeared to be having so much fun – Ellie certainly was! I’d pop my head into her bedroom now and again and see the massive smiles on all their faces. This is really important considering they aren’t able to physically be together, so I want to thank you and all at ArtsEd for your tremendous hard work; I know you all go above and beyond to ensure that the children have the best possible experience, and that’s why ArtsEd is such a prestigious school!

For more information about ArtsEd EXTRA, click here

Stephen Whitson: 100 Years in 100 Seconds

Posted on: December 7th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

As we approach the end of 2020 and what has been a challenging year for all, we’re ready to round off our Centenary celebrations – recognising the incredible history of ArtsEd and its contribution to the performing arts industry.

In this video, ArtsEd alumni Stephen Whitson discusses his training experience in the early 2000s which led to an international career as an actor and now life as a director.

As Associate Director for Hamilton in London’s West End, Stephen knows a thing or two about staging a musical, which is very handy for our current cohort of third year MT students as he directs their upcoming production of Ragtime!

We’re thrilled that Stephen is back in the building, working with our students. Below is the video we made with him earlier in the year as part of our Centenary celebrations.

“Without ArtsEd, we can’t make shows like Hamilton or the numerous diverse types of art that populate the West End, and it’s the people that come out of ArtsEd that allow us to make the best quality art that we possibly can.” – Stephen Whitson


Stephen’s Credits

Recent Theatre Directing credits include: West Side Story (BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall & Edinburgh International Festival, Usher Hall); You Forgot The Mince – a new play by Francesca Joy (Edinburgh Festival/UK Tour 2017); Benighted by J.B. Priestley (World Premiere, London – Winter 2016) [Off West End Award Nomination – Best Director]You Forgot The Mince (UK Tour 2016); The Last Five Years (The Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Criterion Theatre, London), Little Women (Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham), Return To The Forbidden Planet (SWG3, Glasgow), Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together (The Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Dubailand (Finborough Theatre), If Only… by Michel Tremblay (Bread & Roses Theatre, London), Circuit Breaker (Timewave Festival, London), The Wizard of Oz (St. Ives Theatre, Cornwall), Cross Purpose by Albert Camus (King’s Head Theatre, London) and Jubilee Street (Theatre503, London).

Film Directing credits include: Loved Before (Music Video – Eighty8 Films), Da (2019 Release – Rare Moustache/Crixus/Criaglockhart Road Productions), The Trip (Short/London Sci-Fi Festival 2014), 13 (Short/Rare Moustache) and Shooting Star (Music Video/The Big Bads).

Associate/Assistant Director credits include: Hamilton (Associate Director – Victoria Palace Theatre, London – West End), 42nd Street (Associate Director – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London – West End), Barnum (Cameron Mackintosh/Michael Harrison/UK Tour), From Here To Eternity (West End, 2014 Cinema Release), Private Lives (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), La Fanciulla del West (Opera Holland Park), RENT (Greenwich Theatre), Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten (Aldeburgh Music Festival/BBC), What You Will (The Globe Theatre/London 2012 Festival), While The Sun Shines (Top Goat Productions, Lion & Unicorn Theatre), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (LOST Theatre).

Chris Hocking Appointed New Chair to the ISTD Board of Trustees

Posted on: December 4th, 2020 by ArtsEd Admin

ArtsEd Principal, Chris Hocking, has been appointed as the new Chair to the Board of Trustees of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD). He was elected to the position by the Council after the Society’s 2020 AGM on 18 November. 

Formally trained at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet, studying Cecchetti Ballet and National, Chris enjoyed a successful performing and choreography career with West End shows such as Chicago, Carousel, The King and I, The Rocky Horror Show and much more. His career saw him direct and choreograph numerous pantomimes around the country which led to him being awarded an MA in Choreography from Middlesex University. Chris has also been awarded the Fellowship of the British and International Federation of Festivals, is Chair of all England Dance, and a Head Judge for Dance World Cup. 

Chris began his career in performing arts education in 1992 as Head of Performing Arts at Centro Internazionale De Danza in Cosenza, Italy. He was Head of Dance at Mountview Academy of Performing Arts from 1993 to 1999, when he joined ArtsEd as Director of Musical Theatre and Head of Dance. He was appointed Principal in 2017. 

On the announcement of his appointment, Chris Hocking said: 

“In my journey from a young boy taking ISTD Primary Tap, through to a teenager passing the ISTD Cecchetti Associate Exam with Distinction, I am now currently the Principal at ArtsEd, one the UK’s oldest and most well-known performing arts institutes. I have dedicated my life and career to dance and its associated genres by performing in West End shows, teaching in vocational Dance/Musical Theatre/Drama schools, choreographing major productions, adjudicating Dance Festivals around the world, increasing representation in Dance of people from diverse backgrounds and being involved in charitable activities for the world of Dance. I relish the prospect and honour of being Chair of the Society in this challenging and thought-provoking time, as Benjamin Franklin said “out of adversity comes opportunity.” 

Chief Executive of Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, Ginny Brown said: 

“It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Chris as the new Chair of Council. Chris brings to this role a wealth of experience as a performer and Principal of one of the country’s leading vocational schools. I know that he shares my commitment to diversity in the dance sector and I am looking forward to working with Chris to maximize the future impact of the Society.” 

Photo Credit: Robin Savage