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Well… we’re here. What started as a personal initiative in 2018 has blossomed into the thriving entity we now know as PLAY! Drama Workshops, celebrating five years this year. I wanted to take a moment to pause, reflect and really show off what we’ve achieved in the time we’ve been based in Selwyn. 

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Our original Senior classes at Clearview Primary school, 2018/19 “Mars Bars”

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Our original Junior classes at Clearview Primary school, 2018/19 “Kit Kats”

My venture began in 2017 with a five-day workshop titled ‘Play! in a Week,’ sparking positive feedback in Queenstown. I used to run similar workshops to this in the UK, and my family who I nannied for suggessted I try it locally. It was a huge hit, and this paved the way for the evolution of PLAY! Drama Clubs. Once I moved to Christchurch at the end of 2017 I wanted to establish 10-week courses aimed not only to enhance performance skills but also to instill confidence and offer a genuinely enjoyable experience for children in Christchurch and Selwyn. 

Our first classes began at Clearview Primary School, Greendale Primary School and Gilberthorpe Primary school. While our locations have expanded since then, we still see a lot of our original students in the courses that we run!

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Some of our original performances in Clearview Primary School

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We used to make stages out of classrooms! How far we have grown.

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Some of our original students at in Gilberthorpe Primary School

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I returned bi-annually to continue the workshops in Queenstown after they were such a success.

Since its inception in 2018, PLAY! Drama Workshops has evolved and currently enrols over 200 students per academic term and hosting six holiday programs annually, with locations spanning Selwyn and Christchurch.

I remember the first ‘large scale’ performance we did – we had a cast of 25! Now our performances host around 11 drama groups… we perform with 80 children per show!

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Our first ‘large scale’ show of Merry Grinchmas premiered in December 2019

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Our latest drama show ‘Carnivale’ hosted 75 students and 8 teenage helpers backstage. As well as our 4 teachers.

I believe in the transformative power of drama for every child. There are so many social benefits of drama, including the promotion of growth, teamwork, concentration, and creativity. I also proudly accommodate children with diverse learning needs, such as autism and dyslexia. I was very keen to create an inclusive environment that caters to everyone.

The impact of PLAY! Drama Workshops extends beyond the stage, as evidenced by heartfelt testimonials from parents. One parent from Greendale acknowledges the significant progress and newfound confidence in their child, emphasizing the importance of drama in personal development.

Even the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 couldn’t deter PLAY! Drama Workshops. Our resilience led to the seamless transition of classes to the digital realm via Zoom, ensuring continuity and connection during a time of isolation!

Since 2018, PLAY! has formed collaborative partnerships with various creative networks, including Aurora Dance Studio, and CentreStage Rolleston. These partnerships not only expand the reach of PLAY! Drama Workshops but also provide unique opportunities for students, and the company owes a huge part of it’s success to it’s partnership with Shannon at Aurora Dance Studio. 

We also wouldn’t be anywhere without the fantasitc staff that have helped me grow the company to what it is today! Beth, Rose, Kezia, Merlia, Scott, and now we welcome even more new staff members next year.

As PLAY! Drama Workshops marks its fifth anniversary, I reflect not just the growth of a business but the bringing together of a vibrant community centered around creativity, passion, and the transformative power of drama. I absolutely love what we create at PLAY, and now we have a custom-built studio, we have a home for years to come too!

The biggest thing I’ve remarked upon from this experience is how far all of our students have come. From our original students in 2018 to our newest students this year. Watching children grow and have the confidence to present themselves on stage (and even in class) is the biggest pleasure to me. It reminds me why I started this and, more importantly, it reminds me ouf our values going forward for the next five years.

PLAY Drama Workshops 

Inspiring creativity. Inspiring confidence. Since 2018.

Written by Nickie Tabukovu

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A huge thank you to everyone who has supported PLAY Drama Workshops since it’s inception. We couldn’t do it without you.