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Welcome to PQA Tees Valley

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We operate on a Saturday morning 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm at Stockton Riverside College.

Our aim is to ensure a high level of performance industry training, while gaining confidence, developing life skills and having lots of fun along the way.

The academy has superb facilities that include a theatre that seats 171 people, where students will learn to develop their comedy and drama skills. It is also perfect to showcase their talent, with the use of their brilliant lighting rig and sound system. The dance studio is air conditioned, with sprung floor and mirrored walls, so you can strut your funky stuff, while in musical theatre. The T.V. room has a removable green screen so you can create any weird and wonderful set your imagination comes up with.

All our excellent practitioners deliver fun filled, creative, high energy, action packed sessions.

Have a look, to see for yourself!

Try your hand at classes in Comedy and Drama, Musical theatre and Film & T.V. We also offer "Poppet" classes for our young pupils, which will be all of the above condensed into a shorter session, 10am – 11:30am. From time to time we will also have master classes in Street dance, theatrical make up, clowning and puppetry.

Other things to look forward to as well as your weekly sessions are; West-end shows, film premier events, which you will be staring in. Plus the opportunity to take part in Trinity exams, with no extra cost to your parents.

If you have a passion for singing, a love of dancing, perhaps you want to be the next big film director or you just want to have fun, while learning new skills, contact us today to book your free taster session. or call 07936546347

We look forward to meeting you.

Laura Lonsdale

Meet the Team

Laura Lonsdale


Laura Lonsdale - Principal

Hello, my name is Laura and I am honoured to say I am the principal of PQA Tees Valley.

As a proud "Smoggy", born and bred in Middlesbrough, I have a passion to bring a high standard of performance industry training to the area and most importantly to you, the next generation of performers.

I started my training at Sylvia Young Theatre School, so I understand the importance of developing your skills, from a young age. It was an education for life both on and off the stage. At 18 I attended the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA). My career started as soon as I left drama school, I literally hit the road running, going on a national tour with Hull Truck Theatre and I have never looked back.

Being an actor gives you a chance to be whoever you want to be and I have been lots of different characters, both on and off screen. A chocolate factory worker for the BBC, a blushing bride for ITV and a women scorned in the Westend. It's been a fantastic 14 years in the industry and long may it continue. I also have my own theatre company, where we write, create and produce our own pieces of theatre.

I became a practitioner as I wanted to pass on the skills I had been taught. You never stop learning and developing your talent. Working with young people reminds me of that on a weekly basis. Not only do you get insider knowledge of what it is like to work within the business, you will get someone who has been training young people for over 6 years. With the correct nurture and guidance, students will develop, grow and discover new possibilities, that where never open to them before.

PQA Tees Valley want you to learn new skills, in safe, fun and creative environment. Become different characters, sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching and most importantly be yourself. Gain the confidence, techniques and determination to stand out in a crowd.

So if you just can't wait to be king, defy gravity or you simply can't stop the beat!

Come along and meet us.

As William Shakespeare said "All the worlds a stage."


Musical Theatre

Maria - Musical Theatre

Maria is originally from the North East and trained in dance at the Justine Kavanagh Theatre School. At age 18, she received a scholarship at The Mountview Theatre Academy and moved to London to study on the Acting Foundation course. After this, receiving a second scholarship, she went on to train at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts and received a degree in Acting.

Since graduating, Maria has been involved in work all over the country and continues to work as a jobbing actor. Most recently she has been working with Northern Stage in Newcastle as part of their associate company, 'The Letter Room' touring a new musical called "Bonenkai".

Maria also works as a theatre director and is Artistic Director of Black Coffee Theatre which has been running since 2010. She has recently been the associate director to two-time Obie Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin on Northern Stage's production of 'Catch 22?.

Maria absolutely loves teaching and enjoys passing on everything she has learnt from the industry to encourage and support her students.


Film & Television

Becky - Film & Television

Hi everyone! My name is Becky and I am delighted to be your Film and TV teacher here at PQA.

I've been heavily involved in the Performing Arts since the age of 10, since this age I have been very lucky with the amount of opportunities I have been given as well as the professionals from the industry I have met, all of whom have helped shape the performer, teacher and person I am today! My dream from a young age has been to become a famous film star, therefore at college I took on Media on top of my full time Performing Arts course as I thought this would help me achieve my dream faster if I was to know the ins and outs of the film industry. However I did not foresee the problem that I came across, this was that I would fall in love with Media and hit a crossroads with whether to ditch my film star dream I've had from a young age or aim to be the next Steven Spielberg... I surprisingly plunged for the Steven Spielberg option and it turned out to be the best thing I ever done!

During my time on my Media course at University I became involved in Radio Producing and Presenting with amateur companies such as CVFM and Bishop FM all the way up to professional companies like the BBC. I have also worked as a runner and an extra for CBBC on 'Little Howard's Big Question'. After this I went on to work in the USA for two summers as a videographer at a children's summer camp, and have spent one summer in a UK summer camp as an Activity Leader teaching a variety of Performing Arts and Film activities to international students.

When I'm not having a blast at PQA, I'm running my own children's entertainment business called 'Moondust Entertainment', I host children's themed birthday parties as well as run drama and dance classes in a variety of schools in Teesside.

I have made both my Performing Arts passion and Media passion my job, and can honestly say that I look forward to going to work. I love teaching the current students at PQA and can't wait to meet new students and pass on my knowledge to them as well.


Comedy & Drama

Laura - Comedy & Drama

Me again, just a different picture!
Not only am I your principal, I am also you comedy and drama coach.
As you are aware I love creating, working and guiding young people, helping you to become the best version of yourself. It's important that I know you and you get to know me, that way we can work better together.
Here is a more detailed version of my career, enjoy.

Theatre credits:
Dora Strang – Equus / Maggie Hobson – Hobson's choice both at the Lion Eagles theatre.
Mandy Wild – Studs – Hull Truck theatre (national tour) and Arc – Stockton.
Shelia – The Shy gas man – Southwark playhouse.
Maxine – Like a virgin – National tour.
Sandra – Beautiful thing / Reggie Fluety – Laramie project – Hazel Pearson theatre.
Jean – Your home in the west – Middlesbrough theatre.
Denise – Miss Crispy 1988 – National tour.
T.V credits:
Denise – The Royal – ITV.
Nancy – The Eustace brothers – BBC 1.
Tracy – Bodies – BBC 2.
Barbara – Mrs David – BBC 2.
Sara – (Regular) – Rocket Man – BBC 1.
Sandra – Dalziel and Pascoe – BBC 1.
Film credits:
Liz – Awake – Short film.

Teaching credits:
Having worked with many different performing arts schools, I have taught acting, dance and comedy. However I have also taught performing arts at G.C.S.E. and A level at Secondary school level.
I have directed and choreographed for lots of big scale youth theatre productions in the North East.
The Wiz, Alice in wonderland, Grease, Summer Holiday and my favourite High school musical, to name but a few.
Working with my students each week is hugely important to me, I get to know each of you on a personal level, get to see you develop into young actors and have lots of fun too!



Jessie - Poppets

Hello, my name is Jessie and I am delighted to be your Poppets Practitioner!

I am very passionate about performing and have committed to my craft since a very young age. I understand the dedication expected of young performers and the importance of gaining such skills from an early age. Born and raised in Stockton on Tees, I had my first taste of dancing at the age of three, acting and musical theatre at the age of seven and have been hooked ever since!

Throughout School, I was recognised for my dedication and passion for the Arts and was registered as part of 'The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth.' This gave me plenty of opportunities to perform in school productions as a regular lead role, choirs, competitions and festivals, such as The Royal Shakespeare Schools Festival on two occasions. My determination continued throughout my education, as I was always an active member of performing arts schools as well as auditioning and landing roles for college and local amateur productions of West End favourites. Having the privilege to perform multiple times at Stockton's ARC, SIRF Festival, Stockton Riverside College, the Billingham Forum, Billingham Sythonia and Middlesbrough Little Theatre. I was also encouraged and put through my London College of Music, The British Association of Teachers Dancing, Trinity: The International Examination Board and The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Examinations for acting, dancing, singing and musical instruments.

Enthusiastic to learn the variety of performance styles, I studied at Manchester Metropolitan University graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary Theatre and Performance. During my three years, I devised my own work, had the opportunity to perform alongside amazing Contemporary Theatre Practitioners and directed by Industry Professionals. After graduating, I was able to reflect on my achievements and focus on my own journey, which has given me more drive to succeed as a performer and to pass on my knowledge to our future generation of performers!

I love working with Children and having the chance to be part of their journey within the arts, to see them progress and their talent shine during lessons and showcases. Nothing brings me more joy than to see all the hard work pay off and I feel beyond privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside the team at PQA!


Assistant/Vice Principal

Sarah - Assistant/Vice Principal

Sarah is from the Stockton area, and studied BTEC performing arts in 2008 under the guidance of Laura Lonsdale, where she successfully attainted a distinction.

Dancing from a young age, Sarah has first class experience of what it is like to be a young performer and the journey that your children are about to experience. She has performed in small scale school productions and larger local productions at Middlesbrough theatre.

Since leaving school, Sarah successfully achieved a Certificate of Higher Education in Early childhood studies from Teesside University, learning to work very comfortably with children from all walks of life. She has worked with children in a variety of settings including classroom and more informal relaxed settings. Coming from a big family she is no stranger to a group of small children with big personalities.

More recently, Sarah was able to work with the Young Americans, a non profit organisation from Corona L.A. inspiring children in schools with their wonderful choral music.

Sarah is very excited to be working alongside the rest of the PQA tees valley team, and will be a hands on friendly face to ensure the students feel safe and comfortable! It is her goal to provide this nourishing environment to enable our students' talents to flourish!


Green Group Assistant

Olivia - Green Group Assistant

Olivia is the younger sister of Poppets teacher Jessica. Also a singer and actor born in Bolton, but moved up to the North East (Stockton on Tees) aged five where her passion for performing began. Olivia graduated from Northumbria University in 2012 with a BA in Performance. Olivia has recently written her first play which will soon be premiering as part of the New Writing Festival at Middlesbrough Little Theatre with Less Is More in March this year.

Olivia has a number of theatre credits including Les Miserables (School Edition) as Madame Thenardier with Northern Lights Music – A Newcastle based theatre and music company. As You Like It (Duke Frederick), A Streetcar Named Desire (Eunice), and her upcoming performance in the Northern premiere of The Addams Family Musical (Milkmaid Ancestor) all with Nice Swan Theatre Company based in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

When studying at university Olivia participated in the "Foster a Future" scheme. This was a series of drama workshops invented for anxious and vulnerable children who were in and out of foster care. The experience was very rewarding watching the children's confidence and abilities develop throughout the course of the workshops. This is where Olivia's passion for teaching working with children began. Olivia has also experienced working as a teaching assistant in the Drama department at Egglescliffe Comprehensive School.

Olivia has had the amazing experience of working for The Walt Disney World Company in Florida. Working for Disney was a very rewarding experience as she got to work closely with the guests and communicate with the guests of the resorts on a daily basis. Allowing her to enjoy and enhance the guest's experiences and allow them to have a magical time and put smiles on the children's faces.

Since graduating Olivia has also taken part in a musical theatre summer school course with Sunderland University. Invented by and working with Professor Graeme Danby alongside a variety of industry professionals such as Valerie Reid, professional ballet dancer Shelby Williams and West end musical director Gregg Arrowsmith. This course showed and developed Olivia's passion for the arts and performing with the experience of working and also performing a variety concert at The Sunderland Minster with a talented group of students and mentors.

Olivia has been working very hard to try and make her mark and find her niche within the performing arts industry by getting involved in as many opportunities as she can to develop herself further as a performer and practitioner. She hopes to be starting her SCITT course in drama teaching in September this year as she finds teaching a very rewarding experience.

Olivia is very excited to be part of PQA. She is very passionate about the rewarding experience of watching the students grow into confident, more enthusiastic and talented performers and also the opportunities it will bring to all its students. Olivia is very much looking forward to working with the Poppet's students and also with Jessica and hopes her own love and excitement for performing will inspire the future stars in the industry.


Academy Assistant

Nikki - Academy Assistant

Nikki is from Teesside and has been performing from a young age, falling in love with performing arts at the age of eight when she attended a drama group at Middlesbrough Theatre. From here she continued her practice through School, which then lead to Stockton riverside college. Here is where Nikki began to hone her skills as a performer covering all aspects of performing arts. By excelling in her chosen field and receiving an AVCE in preforming arts with full distinctions.

At the age of eighteen Nikki received a DADA Scholarship to Train at SLP College of Performing Arts where she graduated with a National Diploma in Musical Theatre and also became an Associate of the London College of Music. Whilst studying at SLP she became Head of Academy in her 3rd year of training, which helped her gain experience and knowledge in leadership and fuelled her passion for helping others.

Since Graduating some of her professional roles have included: "Cinderella" in Cinderella Pantomime, "Cassie" in Staggered for Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014 and North East Tour, Music Video Relax 2009 (Chicane) - Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Holly's back again, "Spirit" in Aladdin, MFC Kit Launch online Advert 2014, Pineapple Dance Studios on Sky One, Rollover Hot dogs Online Advertisement, Children's instructor for Kate Fox "The Finishing Line" tour.

As well as assisting at PQA Nikki continues to work in the Arts professionally with theatre and film companies in the region in her spare time. Nikki also teaches workshops to adults for specialist parties and events around the UK.

Nikki loves teaching and is honored to be working with the next generation of performers at PQA!

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Saturdays 10.00 - 13.00 & 14.00 - 17.00
Poppets 10.00 - 11.30 & 11.45 - 13.15

Stockton Riverside College
Harvard Avenue
Stockton on Tees
TS17 6FB

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