WATCH: School for Stage in Longridge, Lytham and Lancaster
When Kieren Spencer was growing up, he wished there was a drama school nearer to his hometown of Longridge.
The 28-year-old set up the performing arts school in Longridge 2014 and quickly followed up with another site in Lytham a year later.
Business was going so well, he added another branch two years ago, this time in Lancaster.
Kieren says: “I have always been interested in drama and the arts. I once saw my cousin in a play and suddenly it felt accessible.
“I joined Preston Players Drama School and my passion grew.
“But I soon realised that if I wanted to go to a stage school, I had to travel to Preston and Manchester and thought to myself why is there nothing like this in Longridge?
“I am passionate about musical theatre and I wanted to give other people the opportunity I had and make it even better. I always imagined I would open up a stage school, but I never imagined I would do it at such a young age, as I was 24 at the time.”
The stage schools offer coaching in acting, singing and dance, with a tutor for each art form. There is a Pre-School for Stage, for youngsters aged three to five, before they move to the main school.
Kieren adds: “The Pre-School is a separate class, given children aged three to five a taste of the performing arts. Then when they reach primary school they come to the main school. The main school is split into age groups: lower, middle and upper and each has a tutor who specialises in either singing, dancing and acting. Then the tutor swaps groups so the pupils get a taste of everything. At the moment we run two-hour classes, but I am looking at expending to three hours, with an hour for each subject. The lessons all accumulate to annual showcases. We never do a full scripted show as I think it is best the pupils dip their toes in different genres, from different writers and directors. Our main aim is to make it fun for the pupils. I used to love going to stage school and I want that for my youngsters.”
When Kieren first launched the stage school, he taught the pupils the art of acting, but now he takes on a managerial role. He says: “When I first started I ran the acting classes. But now I have taken a step back so I can ensure standards and procedures are high and I can oversee the tutors.”
Kieren admits he is very proud of his pupils and delights in watching them progress.
He says: “I am very proud of them all. One of our students is going to New York to do a course. She did her LAMDA exam through us and got a distinction, which is the highest mark.”
The stage school is now accredited by LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). He adds: “LAMDA is a prestigious drama school, so it is nice to have that badge of honour.”
Kieren’s work also stretches to the world of TV and theatre. The former Runshaw College student has had small speaking parts in Hollyoaks and BBC period drama Close to the Enemy. He also works with Preston theatre company Certain Curtain. He adds: “Certain Curtain is an amazing theatre company. Its performances centre around raising awareness about domestic violence. I am currently appearing in Romeo Jones and will be the first person to take on that part. It is a nice feeling, especially when this production will run for many years and others will take on that role after me.”
School for Stage is based at: Longridge Sport and Arts Centre, within Longridge High School, Saturdays 10am until 11am for ages three to five and Saturdays 9am until 11am for five to 16; Lytham St Annes High School, Worsley Road, Saturdays Pre-School 12.30pm until 1.30pm and main school - 12.30pm until 2.30pm; Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Saturdays 10am until noon.