Helen O'Grady Drama AcademyHelen O'Grady Drama AcademyHelen O'Grady Drama Academy

Our Story - Read all about it

The Helen O'Grady Drama Academy is the only organisation of its kind in Africa. It was originally founded in 1979 in Australia, when Helen O'Grady, a trained teacher, drama teacher and actress, hired a hall and commenced affordable after school drama classes for young people from 5-18 years of age.

Her aims provide a self-development drama programme encouraging:

  • Enthusiasm, energy and a positive approach to life
  • Ongoing confidence
  • Self esteem
  • Skill in verbal communication
  • Effective social interaction
  • Performance skills

Her legacy continues and the Helen O'Grady Drama System has now become the largest worldwide drama school of its kind. With an extensive curriculum, dynamic teachers and easily accessible venues, this is a truly community-based organisation, with a strong emphasis on the care of all its students.

Each Academy has a Principal responsible for the overall development, making sure that a high calibre of teachers and tuition is maintained. The Principal attends the studios regularly and works alongside the students and teachers.

Students attend fast moving classes for one hour a week, according to their specific age-group. Parents Days and an annual Production allow parents and guardians to see first-hand the progress of the students.

Duncan Rice - African Director

Duncan studied teaching and drama in South Africa, where he was born, and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He was Head of Drama at St John's, Cambridge, in the United Kingdom before becoming the Helen O'Grady Principal for Northern Ireland. Over the course of his career he has acted in film and theatre, but most particularly established himself as a director of many innovative children's productions, aimed at bringing young people together from all communities and backgrounds. He received a prestigous Award from the British Franchise Association for his innovative work with the Academy in Northern Ireland, where he established the largest drama school in Ireland, and the largest branch in the world wide network of the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy with over 1300 students. Many  of these students have appeared in major films, television, radio and the theatre. Following Duncan's huge success in developing one of the largest Academy's on the Helen O'Grady network in  Cape Town Academy with over 3500 students, he now focuses on mentoring and developing Principals throughout Africa and is also assisting with the Indian development.

Arpita Mittal - African Director

Instrumental in the launch of the programme in India, Arpita was trained in the exclusive methodology of this drama system by Helen O' Grady, Executive Director HOGI, in Perth, Australia. With a Masters in English, Arpita has had multiple years of teaching experience in various colleges of Mumbai, language supervision in Swedish and Canadian Embassies and in Walt Disney, India. Her sustained commitment and belief in alternative learning tools have ensured a consistent expansion and growth of this unique programme across the country, with over 50,000 children and 80 franchisees in India. The Academy is pleased to have these incredible skills. 

Gavin Pollock - African Administrative Director

Gavin was born in Ireland, and has a strong connection with the arts, having been an accomplished set and costume designer. As well as having an extensive banking background, he has also worked throughout the United Kingdom in the interior design and the fashion fields. His work was recently featured by the B.B.C. Being responsible for the development and success of the Academy in Ireland, Gavin brings much enthusiasm and creativity to the African development.

Gavin heads up Aardvark Casting Internataional, the Academy's casting agency, and is responsible for many of the Academy's actors achieving leading roles in television, film, radio and theatre.

Vicky Stroud - South African Director

Vicky studied music and education at the University of Port Elizabeth where she graduated with a B.Mus.(Ed.). She joined a team of top music educators and taught music at a leading primary school for several years. Vicky commenced operations in 1998 as the Franchisee for the Port Elizabeth branch of the Helen O'Grady Drama Academy and quickly became one of the best operators in the country. In 2003, Vicky became the Franchisor for South Africa. As Executive Principal of Helen O'Grady (South Africa), she is now responsible for the management and development of branches throughout South Africa. Vicky is married to Basil and they have two young children - a daughter, April, and a son, Brennan.

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"As a toddler Lara was very vocal and loud but during her Grade 1 year we noticed she started to become a bit of an introvert and more shy. We signed her up with Helen O' Grady Drama Academy in the hope that it would help her with her speech as well as aid her in being more self-confident. Although still a little shy, she has blossomed while doing drama. Her speech is clearer and she is learning to expr..."

- Cape Town Parent