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The best drama classes in Auckland

At Head Held High, we live and breathe speech and drama. Teaching 600+ students every week means we have a LOT of conversations about speech and drama with parents, school teachers, and principals.

Often we chat with parents who are trying to decide on which performing arts programme around Auckland is most suited to their child?

We’re not surprised we get asked this question a lot. A quick Google search of “Best drama classes in Auckland for kids” turns up a mountain of results that would take a long time to wade through and digest. So we wanted to give Aucklanders a simple summary of who we see as other drama and speech & drama operators who deliver amazing classes for kids and teenagers.

(For a summary of the main differences between drama, and speech and drama classes, click here to read our easy-to-understand explanation). Across Auckland, we see a drama community full of incredible people and teachers, all with immense talent and passion. There’s a lot of respect between our companies. We believe every drama school has a different set of strengths, which sets each one apart. These strengths need to be considered carefully when choosing the best classes for your child or teenager.

To give you a helping hand in your research, here’s a list of 9 of the top drama classes in Auckland.

* This list is in no particular order, and for simplicity’s sake we are lumping drama, and speech and drama providers together, despite their differences. Tim Bray Theatre Company:

They say… “Tim Bray Youth Theatre encourages self-confidence and focus. It is an enjoyable way for members to explore their imaginations and to harness and express their creativity. Members learn various drama techniques such as voice, characterisation, movement and scene work.”

Their specialty... Tim Bray are quite simply one of the best youth theatre options you can consider for introducing your child to a wide range of theatre techniques. They have outstanding tutors, so if theatre and stage performance is where your young person’s passions lie, you’ll want to shortlist these guys for sure.

Their locations… Takapuna, Browns Bay and Western Springs. Initialize:

They say… “We don’t teach drama. We let drama teach us. Our classes use drama as a medium through which students can explore interpersonal communication skills, self-awareness, and team building in a fun and supportive environment.”

Their specialty… Initialize teach teenagers, with classes for 12 - 18 year olds. We very much admire their partnership with Youthline (10% of their profits are donated to Youthline), and their amazing dedication to teaching life and leadership skills to Auckland youth through improvised and collaborative drama techniques. If this sounds interesting, check out their free trial class offer.

Their locations… Across Auckland.

They say… “We love the performing arts and teach children, preschoolers, pre-teens, teenagers and adults all across the Auckland region. We are a passionate and experienced team who strongly believe in self-expression and building confidence through the arts. To us, acting, dancing and singing are effective in unleashing life skills that shape strong leaders of the future.”

Their specialty… are the multi-skilled cousin of Auckland’s drama whanau! With classes spanning acting, hip-hop, ballet, musical theatre, elite dance troupes and glee club, there’s something for any young performer regardless of the type of spotlight they desire. Individual classes have different age restrictions, but overall Pform cater for 4 - 25 year-olds.

Their locations… 30 venues around Auckland. TAPAC:

They say… “Want to join a dance, circus, drama, singing or musical theatre class? Each term, TAPAC runs over 50 performing arts classes for preschoolers, children, teens, and adults. TAPAC's tutors are practicing industry professionals, many with over 20-30 years’ experience studying, performing and teaching around the world.”

Their specialty… TAPAC is a performing arts hub, that offers a huge variety of excellent performing arts classes every term, including drama classes and speech and drama classes. In the kids’ and teenagers’ offerings alone, you can choose classes such as acting for screen, drama classes, singing, musical theatre, speech and drama (run by Shine, who are reviewed further down this page), circus arts, hip-hop, ballet, contemporary dance, belly dancing, boys’ dance, K-pop dance, and improv acting. Some classes are taught by TAPAC themselves, and some by outside providers.

Their location… TAPAC operate from their own outstanding facility in Western Springs. Howick Little Theatre:

They say… “Howick Little Theatre's acting classes are structured to allow individual students to learn and be challenged in a fun environment. It is not necessary for participants to have existing acting experience –- a strong desire to be there and a willingness to try new things is all that is required (though a sense of humour is a plus!). A range of theatrical devices, games, styles, exercises and devised provocations is used.”

Their specialty… Acting is the focus at Howick Little Theatre, and they are fantastically good at what they do. In fact, two of our current Head Held High teachers are products of Howick Little Theatre and still hold hugely fond memories of their time being taught there. Students aged 6 - 18 will get a brilliant and very enjoyable training as stage actors at Howick Little Theatre, while also being encouraged to explore their creative and imaginative streaks.

Their location… No prizes for guessing; Howick! Shine:

They say… “Shine courses help children learn effective speaking, reading aloud, public speaking, speech writing, poetry recital, vocal skills, body language, and personal presentation. The courses are taught by Shine’s team of successful, practicing industry professionals, each with over ten years experience studying, performing and teaching around the world.”

Their specialty… Alongside us and Ten Feet Tall (below), Shine is the only other company in Auckland to provide a concentrated focus on speech and drama, rather than acting or drama classes. (For an easy-to-follow explanation of the differences, see our summary here). Nina Burchett, Shine’s founder, is a former member of our teaching whanau, and we’re proud to stand alongside her, bringing the joys and benefits of speech and drama to Auckland children and teenagers.

Their locations… Shine classes are provided at numerous Auckland schools. More details on their website. Ten Feet Tall:

They say… “Speech and Drama offers children the opportunity to develop skills in a way that encourages a lifelong love of literature and performing. Students develop their passion through weekly lessons whilst working towards Speech and Drama competitions and examinations. Students are invited to sit either Speech NZ or Trinity College examinations. Join our Speech and Drama classes and learn skills that last a lifetime.”

Their specialty… While we haven’t had a lot of contact with Ten Feet Tall’s founder, Sarah Hartley, the contact we have had make it really obvious that she’s a passionate, energetic and very committed person with a big love for speech and drama, and a teaching skillset to match. As indicated on her website, in 2018, over 90% of Ten Feet Tall students received distinction or honours grades in the Trinity or Speech NZ exams they sat. This is indicative of an excellent teaching programme and curriculum. Sarah teaches her speech and drama lessons at Kristin School, and also private lessons in Greenhithe. If you’re located in that region, you have a first-class speech and drama option on your doorstep!

Their location… Speech and drama lessons taught from Kristin School, and also private lessons given in Greenhithe. Helen O’Grady Drama Academy:

They say… “The aim of the Academy Drama Club, is to help young people, 5-17 years, develop: Enthusiasm, Confidence, Self Esteem, Conversational ability, Social Skills. These aims are achieved through a highly developed, original, drama programme. ​Each fun session at Drama Club is carefully planned. No previous acting experience is necessary; the emphasis is on encouraging children to develop their imagination and enthusiasm at a level that works for them.”

Their specialty… Helen O’Grady’s classes are split into 3 age groups (5 - 8, 9 - 11 & 12 - 17) and provide a fantastic progression through theatre arts skills and communication skills as children grow and develop. The classes all have valuable social skill-based learning aims embedded into them, and you can be sure that with 35 years of experience behind them, Helen O’Grady Drama Academy is a slick and well-oiled operation where young stage performers will feel right at home.

Their locations… After-school classes provided at several Auckland schools and churches. More details on their website. Head Held High (us):

We say… “We use hundreds of fun games and imaginative scenarios in our speech and drama lessons, to teach conversation skills, drama skills, positive body language, respecting ourselves and others, how to relate positively to peers and adults, public speaking skills, good manners, and how to harness creativity. All blended together into a programme that students of all ages love.”

Our specialty… from the very beginning we have been focussed on building the confidence, communication skills, creativity and character of Auckland’s young people. We believe these traits lead to happy and successful lives and that is what we want for all our students. Of course if we want to develop creative, confident, well-rounded young people it’s essential that our teachers possess these traits themselves so that they can be authentic role models for our students. We pride ourselves on employing only the best of the very best.

We have an outstanding team of incredibly kind, genuine, talented, professional and energetic teachers.

We never waiver from our dedication to small group sizes, so that our students feel comfortable, have the most fun and maximise their learning.

We’re all about taking real care to understand what makes a particular student excited. That may be excelling in Trinity exams, which approximately half of our 600+ students take part in each year. Or it may be the simple fun of creative and imaginative play. Or perhaps it’s the thrill of communicating and performing in front of an audience that ‘cranks a students’ gears’. It could be any one of a hundred things that makes a given student tick, but an important specialty of ours is being passionately curious about what that thing is, leading the student towards it, and then sharing in the joy of achieving it with her or him.

Our locations… Our classes are provided at 18 (in-school and after-school) venues across Auckland. Summary:

So, there you have it, a group who we think are some of the best drama class providers in Auckland.

Of course, there are others we haven’t talked about that do fantastic work with their students. But for this article, we wanted to keep it short(ish) and sweet and so we mainly just kept to talking about companies we know and trust, either personally or by reputation.

So if you’re considering speech and drama, or drama classes for your child and are confused about which school to choose, maybe give the companies listed above a call. As I mentioned earlier, every school has a different specialty, so we’re sure you will find the one that fits your child best.

And of course, we’d appreciate you considering us as well.

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