Curtain rises on The Drama Shed
Three young city people with a love of the stage are getting down to grassroots in Kerikeri.
They bring together their collective experience in acting, producing and directing to start a school - The Drama Shed - set to open its doors at the Waipapa Hall soon.
Actor Jason Taylor and director Janna Sicely both trained at Unitec's School of Performing and Screen Arts in Auckland and ran a drama school for young children in Ponsonby.
Janna, who attended Kerikeri High School, won a media peace award for best documentary after her stint at Unitec. She later qualified as a teacher and was assistant teacher of drama, at Macleans College in Auckland before teaching privately and then becoming a mother.
"I'm glad to be back in Kerikeri with my daughter Harriet and I'm ready to kick off drama classes! Woohoo! The music school is cranking, there's a good dance school but there's a gaping hole for drama and we want to fill it with our experience and knowledge," she says.
Jason, raised on farms in the King Country and the Waikato, says he's delighted to be back in the country - and back in the saddle, working with horses at Kate's Riding Centre.
Jason has appeared in a number of plays, musicals and television commercials. He has worked with theatre greats Michael Hurst, Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Raymond Hawthorne.
He says he's loving Kerikeri and is raring to join Janna and Louise in their enterprise.
Louise is a Scottish-born actor who trained at Manchester University and completed a postgraduate acting course in London. Her acting credits include seasons at a number of prestigious British theatres. On screen she has acted with Steven Berkoff in The Dotman and in TV shows such as Taggart, Bad Girls, Casualty, Sea of Souls, The Bill and Megamaths.
She was living in London when she met Trent Towersey of Kerikeri who brought her home to the Far North. They have a baby daughter Heloise.
Janna says she loves to teach drama because of its significance in our daily lives.
"There is joy in acting as someone other than yourself," she says.
"But at the foundation of drama practice lie core elements of our human make-up: Self-esteem, self-confidence, confidence in the expression of thoughts, opinions and creative ideas, strength and control of the voice, body, and movement technique, compassion for the ideas of others.
"There is also a joy in knowing that the world cannot function without its drama queens," she says.
Jason will tutor children aged 3 to 8 years, while Louise and Janna are taking on students aged 8 and up.
For more information about the school, contact Janna Sicely at 027 226 9974, and look out for their production of an Alan Ayckbourn comedy called Seasons Greetings at the Turner Centre in November, produced by Janna, starring Louise and Jason and directed by Janna's mother and Kerikeri theatre enthusiast Barbara Kirkman.