Gaining life tools ‘you can’t buy in a shop’

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STUDENTS of the Pauline Quirke Academy (PQA) Southwick have been busy delving into Shakespeare, filming a giant rodent eating the town and preparing for a national competition.

PQA is a weekend performing arts school that aims to provide “fun, imaginative classes to help students gain confidence”.

The school splits students into three ages groups; green group (6-8) blue group (9-12) and red group (13-18).

Every Saturday, students arrive for two hours of classes including; musical theatre, comedy and drama and film and TV, where they learn to frame and shoot as well as act and direct.

All films made by the students use local locations and are filmed, written and directed by them and then entered into PQAs national film competition hosted by Pauline Quirke at the Empire, Leicester Square, London.

The awards ceremony this year will be held in February 2014; green group’s entry is Haven which is about a guinea pig attacking Southwick, and red group is entering a zombie film.

Principal Julian Howard McDowell said: “I’m always surprised how amazing it is to see the children become more confident and relaxed. “It’s about getting them away from iPads and iPhones. Here, they form real friendships; we are giving kids tools you can’t buy in a shop, PQA speaks for itself.”

Speaking of future aspirations, he also hopes to be able to run a PQA adults and PQA disability group at Southwick.

Other projects include a promenade performance in the Shoreham Centre to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary next year and red group are creating a ‘verbatim’ film exploring mental illness, where they tell an individual’s story by acting with a pre-recording.