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Welcome to PQA Northampton

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PQA Northampton is a dedicated performing arts school, with classes for kids and young adults in Comedy & Drama, Musical Theatre (acting, singing & dancing) and Film & Television.

Our Northampton Academy operates from Kingsthorpe College every Saturday from 9.45am - 1pm and 1.45 - 5pm where we welcome students aged 4 - 18 years from within the Kingsthorpe, Rushden, Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough, Kettering, Towcester, Daventry, Abington, Grange Farm and surrounding Northamptonshire area. You can request a brochure or enrol online now.

We have been operating on Saturday mornings at Kingsthorpe College since May 2012. Due to demand, in October 2014, we opened a second Academy with session in the afternoons. Kingsthorpe College is situated just 3 miles northwest of Northampton town and boasts fantastic performing arts facilities.

Since opening our students have enjoyed silver screen success, in which the films they have made were shown at Vue Cinema in Northampton in private screenings. They have also performed in showcases in Comedy & Drama (including masks, duologues, improvisation and Shakespeare), and Musical Theatre. They have enjoyed fabulous masterclasses led by industry professionals in beat-boxing, street dance, stage combat, Wicked UK, special effects make-up, poetry and rap.

In February 2014 we enjoyed success in the West End at Her Majesty's Theatre In 'Fright Night'. Students starred in our first full-scale musical 'Seussical Jnr' in June 2015 at Cripps Hall Theatre. We also enjoyed success in our 2017 West End venture in PQA's new musical comedy 'The Lazy Ace'.

We have 100% pass rate in students' group Trinity College London examinations which were free to all PQA students in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Please take a look at our news page to find out what other exciting things we get up to!

Thank you for your interest in us, and if you would like to find more and be part of the action call 0800 531 6282 to book a free taster session.

Sarah Varnam

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Meet the Team

Sarah Varnam


Sarah Varnam - Principal

I was born and raised in Leicestershire where my love of the performing arts began at a very early age. My father is an accomplished set designer and stage manager and whilst he was behind the scenes, working his magic, I performed on stage in the children's ensemble in pantomimes and musicals.

As I grew older, so my enthusiasm for the theatre grew with me, and when I became firmly 'hooked' in the Arts, I attended a weekend theatre school, and enjoyed developing a good grounding in drama and musical theatre, as well as meeting lots of new people who are still great friends today! I began attending private drama lessons, and was taught and mentored by one of Leicestershire's best drama teachers, who moulded me into the actress and teacher that I am today.

At the age of 15, I made my debut playing the title role in Agnes of God at The Little Theatre in Leicester. Other roles followed, including Ruby Birtles in When We Are Married; Jane Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, which toured to the open-air theatre at Minack in Cornwall and numerous Old Time Musicals.

After studying Performing Arts at Melton College, Drama School was my next port of call. I gained a place at London's prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama, training with many now-household names and playing many different roles, including a female Hamlet and studying an elephant at London Zoo! I graduated with a BA in Acting in 1995.

My first professional engagement was playing the Nurse in Night Must Fall, starring Barbara Jefford and directed by Phillip Franks. Other credits include Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Martirio in Lorca's The House of Barnarda Alba, Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible and Miss Hannigan in Annie.

Finally, my desire to work with young people (and meeting my husband) brought me back home to the Midlands, and for the last 13 years my role has been that of a teacher of performing arts, as freelance, in state schools and more recently as the head of performing arts at an independent school.

I have directed many productions with young people at a variety of societies. These include two very successful productions of A Slice of Saturday Night at Leicester's Little Theatre, The Pirates of Penzance, Honk!, Oliver!, Low Level Panic and Bugsy Malone. I have also mentored a number of young people who have themselves gone on to train at top drama schools and ultimately enter the profession.

Other directorial projects have included Romeo and Juliet, Hello, Dolly! ,Steel Magnolias and too many pantomimes to mention!

It is important to me that the young people who attend our new academy experience the same thrill of learning and performing that I did. It is vital that everyone has the same chance to shine and feels special whilst growing as an individual and in confidence! Whether your reasons for signing up is to make new friends or to take those first few important steps into a varied and fulfilling career, then PQA Northampton is definitely for you.

Come and join us and, Be Yourself, Be Amazing!


Musical Theatre

Kate - Musical Theatre

Kate Lovett trained at Guildford School of Acting and the University of Chichester gaining her Masters and BA Hons Degree in Musical Theatre. She is still an active performer of musical theatre, singing, acting and dance and is represented by a London Agency.

With an extensive background in musical theatre and more, she brings current, up to date knowledge of the industry to PQA by still being an active part of it as well as being a teacher.

Some of her skills include jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, street, commercial, partner work, salsa, choreography, dance captain, singing, choral singing, acting, comedy, stage combat, directing and musical directing as well as backstage work.

Some of her credits include: Childline Ball- Ensemble (Adrian Sarple/Cameron Mackintosh LTD); Lysistrata Jones- Lampito (UK Premier); Vile Bodies- Melrose Ape (GSA); Avicii Set –Dancer (EDC UK); Allegro- Beulah (GSA); A Lie of The Mind- Workshop- Beth (GSA) Rent- Mimi Marquez & Dance Captain (UOC Tour); The Last 5 Years- Cathy Hiatt (Chichester UOC); Love Musicals- Soloist/Ensemble (Company MK); The Threepenny Opera- Lucy Brown (Brighton UOC); Sweet Charity- Cameron (Bognor Regis UOC) and more.

Kate is thrilled to bring her knowledge and skills to the students at PQA Northampton and use her up to date skills to guide them through their performance education and learning all about the industry.


Film & Television

Ryan - Film & Television

Ryan has been involved with the independent film industry both in front and behind the camera since 2011. Starting in small acting roles in short films from comedies to westerns, he quickly picked up a pen to begin creating his own stories and later studied Film Production at Confetti ICT in Nottingham.

Over the years his directional debut won him the Best Student Fiction award at the Nottingham International Microfilm Festival, he's been involved in creating the Notts TV talent search show Sketch Up, and he's started own production company, Them Pesky Kids, producing short films, documentaries, and music videos.

Now, Ryan has recently successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign and is working towards the completion his latest project, a crime/thriller called Ariella, and aims to produce feature films in the coming years.


Comedy & Drama

Ellie - Comedy & Drama

Ellie has developed her love of theatre and skills as a performer since the age of 4, whilst starring as an elf!

She has performed in a wide range of plays, musicals and pantomimes throughout her life, as well as playing piano and saxophone and singing in choirs.

Ellie gained a BA(Hons)in Performing Arts in 2000, and completed her teacher training in 2006. She has undertaken film extra work and regularly fulfils professional acting roles as a live actor at a Scream Park attraction, and Mrs Claus over Christmas.

Ellie has taught drama to students 4-18, both as mainstream curriculum, and as extra-curricular classes, as well as Level 2 & 3 BTEC courses in Acting, Musical Theatre and Production Arts. Summer courses with East 15 and NODA have helped her to hone her directing skills, alongside graduate actors and industry professionals.

She also enjoys kickboxing, swimming and tap dance in her spare time. She sings with Cantus Choir in various concerts and services around the UK, most recently at Southwell Minster.

Alongside her extensive teaching practice, she has directed a vast array of performances from short studio pieces, devised physical theatre to full-scale musicals, plays and pantomimes. She continues to act throughout the year and earlier this year conducted the band for a school's production of Fame!

Her philosophy on teaching students of all ages is that it should be practical, hard work and lots of fun! She is looking forward to working with all the groups at PQA Northampton.


Film & TV Assistant

Manisha - Film & TV Assistant

Biography to appear here soon


Poppets and Teaching Assistant

Leah - Poppets and Teaching Assistant

Leah is currently studying for her fourth year BA(Hons) Drama degree at the University of Northampton and after studying modules such as Learning Through Drama, Children's Theatre, and Applied Performance, she is due to graduate with a first class honours degree in July 2018.

Alongside her studies at university, Leah is involved with the IDEK Theatre Company as a cast member, scriptwriter, workshop leader, and social media manager. Within these roles, she collaboratively created and toured '#IDEK: i Don't Even Know': a fast-paced, high-energy physical theatre performance which promotes and inspires the thought processes surrounding decision-making and the future. Leah will continue to tour new #IDEK shows in 2018 around local schools in Northamptonshire, alongside delivering physical theatre workshops to classes of secondary school students.

Leah is also involved with the Imagine A Day Project (IADP) as a workshop leader, digital artist, co-ordinator, and agent of change. IADP is an international applied performance project which is responding to the global need for sustainable change, underpinned by the academic theory of Dr Hayley Linthwaite (2012). After winning Global Changemaker of the Year in 2016 and being nominated for University Initiative of the Year in 2017, Leah continues to work closely with IADP to empower children, young people, university students, teachers, community professionals and artists in Sri Lanka, Australia, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Kosovo using techniques of creative collaboration, social innovation and practical exploration to envision and enable a better future.

Leah continues to teach in various other settings also: gaining placement experience with the Young Americans Young Performers' Touring Companies in 2017 - 2018 and leading movement and physical theatre classes at the University of Northampton. She will continue her close connections with both the Drama and Acting departments at the University after her undergraduate graduation in July 2018.

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Saturdays 10.00 - 13.00 & 14.00 - 17.00
Poppets 10.00 - 11.30 & 14.00 - 15.30

Kingsthorpe College
Boughton Green Road

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