Ariel Drama Academies: The West End and beyond

Ariel Drama Academies are looking with optimism to 2018 after exciting times and successes throughout last year. Firsts for 2018 will include the opening of a new academy in Horsham, Ariel’s first performances at the Brighton Fringe Festival and performing for dignitaries at a special anniversary event to celebrate the twinning of Haywards Heath with communities in France and Germany. In addition, Ariel plans to expand their Othellos classes for children and adults with special educational needs.

During 2017, the academies helped many students on the road to success, including two who have performed in the West End. Student Ed Hooper, from the Burgess Hill Academy, played ‘Nigel’ in the  Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾. Nigel is Adrian’s best friend and 14 year old Ed had a lot of great comedy moments in the musical. During the run, he played the West End role 18 times and the new musical was nominated for a BBC audience award.

From Ariel’s East Grinstead Academy, student Sophia Ally, 11, had an exciting year appearing in West End hit ‘The Ferryman’ by Jez Butterworth. The Ferryman is running at the Gielgud Theatre until May. The story is set in the Carney farmhouse: Amidst a hive of activity, this year’s preparations for the annual harvest are interrupted by a visitor. Sophia, who loves performing, gained considerable experience working with the professional cast on this critically acclaimed production, during her run, which ended last month.

Meanwhile, the Othellos have also been achieving amazing things. Student Becky Tyler, who is a wheelchair user and has a specially crafted voice communication aid, bravely took to the stage at ‘Greenbelt’, a summer festival of arts, faith and justice, to deliver a speech to over 5,000 people. A popular event which celebrates artistry and nurturing activism, Greenbelt is known for being inclusive, open-minded, participatory and generous in spirit. Following Becky’s speech she received a bigger standing ovation than the Archbishop of Canterbury! Becky, who is just 15, is an inspiration and hopes to speak and perform at other events.

In addition, two Othello students achieved places at the Orpheus Centre, a centre of excellence in performing and visual arts for young disabled people, and several other students have gained places at renowned full time drama schools.

Ariel founder, Nicci Hopson, said: “We are delighted with the successes our students achieved in 2017 and look forward with excitement to 2018. Our aim is always to support and enrich our students’, lives to help them fulfil their potential, whether that is to perform professionally or gain skills for life.

“We are delighted to be opening our new academy in Horsham at the end of April and expanding our special needs classes to make acting, singing and dance available to all”.

Ariel has five established drama academies across Sussex in Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Crawley, East Grinstead and Steyning. The new Horsham Academy will open on Saturday 28 April at the Roffey Millennium Hall. Everyone is welcome and there is no audition process. Free taster sessions are available at all Acadamies. For more information, please visit: www.arielct.co.uk or call: 01444 250407.

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