Our Story - Read all about it
The Helen O'Grady Drama Academy is the only organisation of its kind in Africa. It was originally founded in 1979 in Australia, when Helen O'Grady, a trained teacher, drama teacher and actress, hired a hall and commenced affordable after school drama classes for young people from 5-18 years of age.
Her aims provide a self-development drama programme encouraging:
- Enthusiasm, energy and a positive approach to life
- Ongoing confidence
- Self esteem
- Skill in verbal communication & collaboration
- Effective social interaction
- Critical Thinking
- Performance skills
Her legacy continues and the Helen O'Grady Drama System has now become the largest worldwide drama school of its kind. With an extensive curriculum, dynamic teachers and easily accessible venues, this is a truly community-based organisation, with a strong emphasis on the care of all its students.
Each Academy has a Principal responsible for the overall development, making sure that a high calibre of teachers and tuition is maintained. The Principal attends the studios regularly and works alongside the students and teachers.
Students attend fast moving classes for one hour a week, according to their specific age-group. Parents Days and an annual Production allow parents and guardians to see first-handthe progress of the students.
Helen O'Grady - Founder
Helen O’Grady, F.T.C.L., F.A.I.M., founded the Helen O’Grady Children’s Drama Academy in Perth, Australia, in 1979. She is the creator of the acclaimed Helen O’Grady Drama System which is used globally by Licensed Providers.
Prior to establishing the Academy, Helen qualified as a teacher and then worked extensively in children’s television as a presenter and producer, and also as a professional actress.
Widely acknowledged as a world expert in the field of children’s developmental drama, in September 2003, Trinity College, London, one of the largest and best known institutions of its kind in the world, recognized Helen’s unique achievements by conferring on her an honorary Fellowship (F.T.C.L.) the highest academic qualification awarded by the College. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management (F.A.I.M.)
Helen O’Grady reflects on the incredible journey that has seen a small Perth-based venture, in Australia, become a worldwide organisation.“I am constantly inspired by the power of our unique, developmental drama programme to influence and empower children of many races and cultures. For over 30 years, I have travelled the world training teachers and working in the classes with thousands of children. Along the way, I have been joined by many wonderful people who are dedicated and committed to helping children achieve their potential, through participation in our acclaimed drama programme.
The more I travelled and absorbed different cultures, the more I realised how similar we all are. Parents and children everywhere share basic hopes and dreams. Parents want their children to feel loved, to be happy, confident, empowered, able to affect change and prosper. Children need to feel loved, valued, recognized, included, and to be motivated, happy and hopeful.
Through the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy programme, teachers are able to help thousands and thousands of young people find their voice, generate self-belief, become generous participants in life and to experience much fun and fulfillment along the way!”
Duncan Rice - African Director
Duncan studied teaching and drama in South Africa, where he was born, and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He was Head of Drama at St John's, Cambridge, in the United Kingdom before becoming the Helen O'Grady Principal for Northern Ireland. Over the course of his career he has acted in film and theatre, but most particularly established himself as a director of many innovative children's productions, aimed at bringing young people together from all communities and backgrounds. He received a prestigous Award from the British Franchise Association for his innovative work with the Academy in Northern Ireland, where he established the largest drama school in Ireland, and the largest branch in the world wide network of the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy with over 1300 students. Many of these students have appeared in major films, television, radio and the theatre. He has also developed the international Shakespeare SLAM competition for schools. Following Duncan's huge success in developing one of the largest Academy's on the Helen O'Grady network in Cape Town Academy with over 3500 students, he now focuses on mentoring and developing Principals throughout Africa and is also assisting with the Indian development.
Vicky Stroud - South African Director
Vicky studied music and education at the University of Port Elizabeth where she graduated with a B.Mus.(Ed.). She joined a team of top music educators and taught music at a leading primary school for several years. Vicky commenced operations in 1998 as the Franchisee for the Port Elizabeth branch of the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy and quickly became one of the best operators in the country. In 2003, Vicky became the Franchisor for South Africa. As Executive Principal of Helen O'Grady (South Africa), she is now responsible for the management and development of branches throughout South Africa. Vicky is married to Basil and they have two young children - a daughter, April, and a son, Brennan.
Arpita Mittal - African Director
Instrumental in the launch of the programme in India, Arpita was trained in the exclusive methodology of this drama system by Helen O' Grady, Executive Director HOGI, in Perth, Australia. With a Masters in English, Arpita has had multiple years of teaching experience in various colleges of Mumbai, language supervision in Swedish and Canadian Embassies and in Walt Disney, India.
Her sustained commitment and belief in alternative learning tools have ensured a consistent expansion and growth of this unique programme across the country, with over 50,000 children and 80 franchisees in India. The Academy is pleased to have these incredible skills.
Gavin Pollock - African Administrative Director
Gavin was born in Ireland, and has a strong connection with the arts, having been an accomplished set and costume designer. As well as having an extensive banking background, he has also worked throughout the United Kingdom in the interior design and the fashion fields. His work was recently featured by the B.B.C. Being responsible for the development and success of the Academy in Ireland, Gavin brings much enthusiasm and creativity to the African development.
Gavin is also also written many of the productions on the Helen O'Grady network as well as abridging Shakespeare's plays for the famous International Shakespeare SLAM competition.
Gavin heads up Aardvark Casting Internataional, the Academy's casting agency, and is responsible for many of the Academy's actors achieving leading roles in television, film, radio and theatre.
Alan Montanaro - African and Maltese Director