SJM Creative Performance Academy to expand intake

On Wednesday 12th January 2022 the Marchmont-based stage school will hold a full-length taster session for young people of school age. This one-off free evening class will enable more children and teenagers (aged 5-18) to experience what it’s like to be a new ‘cast member’ at the popular Marchmont-based theatre school.

We spoke to SJM's Founding Director, Stephen Martin.

Why the decision to grow the school?

SJM weathered the worst of Covid, managing to stage live-streamed or reduced audience performances. Some families even turned their homes into studios! Young people particularly needed the structure and confidence-boosting interaction then, as now. As a result, we’re currently at full capacity with a growing waiting list for January. So we felt it was the right time to expand our intake of students.

What will the taster event involve?

Like our weekly term time classes, the 1.5 hour session will involve approx. 30 mins of singing, dancing and acting tuition. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for prospective students and (restrictions permitting) their families to meet tutors and current ‘cast members’.

What skills will a child or teen develop?

During classes we work on a whole range of specific and transferable skills. But the emphasis is as much on social skills as professional ones. So alongside character building exercises and vocal projection workshops (for example), there’s a real focus on team building and confidence growing. SJM is an inclusive, supportive community in which the individual is valued and nurtured.

What sort of young person would benefit from your weekly classes?

We cater for a range of abilities, levels and dispositions. Some older teens are more career minded and we support them in this. But most students initially come because they enjoy singing, dancing and/or acting and want to develop their skills and confidence on stage.

What is the time commitment?

1.5 hours on a Wednesday evening each week during term time plus the annual shows in December and June. If extra rehearsals are scheduled before an event, these are voluntary.

Do all students have the opportunity to perform in shows?

Yes. All students at SJM take part in two productions every year, in December and again in June. The staff here write the shows collaboratively with the individual students in mind.

Early on in the term we hold age-appropriate auditions. (For the youngest, this is an informal ‘Show us what you got!’ opportunity). Having assessed each student, we then allocate roles that will develop their skills and confidence.

How can parents/carers support students at home?

All parents/carers have access to rehearsal videos, backing tracks, scripts and lyrics on the online parent portal. So if you wish to help your child learn lines or practise songs and dance routines, the necessary resources are all there. We also send out a weekly newsletter.

NB SJMs upcoming Christmas productions, The Wizard of Ed& The Tweenies Toyboxwill take place in The Netherbow Theatre. Both are open to the public.

You can sign up for the SJM taster session here.