It was my extreme pleasure and professional boon to work with Sarah over a period of 3 years at Kingsley College in Redditch. During my tenure at the school my brief was to reinvigorate the drama and performing arts output both in syllabus teaching, extra-curricular arts activity and community oriented drama provision.
Sarah was a newly qualified teacher, but throughout our working partnership she showed herself to be, not only an educator of the finest communicative ability, armed at all times with boundless patience, and inspiring pedagogical strategy, but also an expert devisor, workshop facilitator, and multi- talented physical theatre and performing arts practitioner. In an educational climate which so often prioritises the attainment of league table targets over creative verve, it was a joy to work so closely alongside someone who bestrode, so deftly, the demands of the school and the creative potential of all the students lucky enough to work with her.
In short, Sarah is a veritable force of nature, her understanding and sensitive handling of workshop participants creates an atmosphere of discovery which caters for every interest from every individual within the group. Her performance skills are manifold, she has, in equal measure, a comprehensive, hands-on understanding of traditional forms of dance, impro, musical theatre and acting, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the pioneering attitude of the devisor who constantly invents and reinvents her practise to walk an unerring path of inspiration. Her energy is infectious.
Her students love her, with good cause, and I deeply miss working with her.
Sarah is a well rounded and hugely committed performer. She is what we call in this industry, a “triple threat”: a polished dancer, strong singer and engaging actress with captivating stage presence. I first had the pleasure of working with Sarah in 2008 on a production of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’, in which she played the title role. I was thoroughly impressed, not only by Sarah’s talent –which she has in abundance – but also her professionalism and creativity. She injected such energy into the role and truly engaged with the character, always finding new and exciting ways of portraying Millie to the audience.
Since 2008, I’ve had the privilege of working with Sarah in various capacities. We have performed together, co-organised charity concerts and given workshops together, and she has consistently been a dream to work with. Her students love and respect her and it is understandable why, for Sarah is not only a wonderful choreographer, sound vocal coach and innovative director, but a fun, enthusiastic and supportive influence.
Sarah is hugely passionate about the Arts, and particularly about bringing the Arts to young people. When I heard that she was setting up Starbuck Theatre Company I was thrilled, because I believe that Sarah has so much to offer as a theatre practitioner. Starbuck Theatre Company will be an asset to Worcestershire and I am extremely excited for what is in store. I would say “good luck”, but this company really does not need it. With Sarah at the helm, I have no doubt that Starbuck Theatre Company will be a resounding success, full of happy and confident young performers all working together to create memorable pieces of theatre.
LUCY MAY WALKER
Lucy is a singer/songwriter.
I first met Sarah when she joined Kingsley College as a drama teacher. I instantly got on with her and she was one of those teachers that made you want to impress her. I remember specifically in a drama class we were doing module on homeless people. In an exercise we had to act as beggars on a street as Sarah walked past as a citizen. She gave so much of herself within the task that it encouraged us to give everything we had back to her which resulted in getting the most she could out of each and every actor. I think one of the best things about Sarah is how passionate she is. Whatever she is involved with isn’t just something she “has to do”, she takes it all in her stride and puts every ounce of energy she has into it. I was always quite shy at school and I didn’t go out of my way to audition for school shows or drama pieces.
However when Sarah joined the school it was like she saw my potential and took the time to encourage me to take part in things outside of normal lessons and I ended up being involved in a lot of projects after school and outside school practise with drama and theatre. I have Sarah to thank for a lot, she brought the confidence out in me that I didn’t think I ever had.
I went on to take Drama at GCSE and got full marks, and also took part in “A Slice of Saturday Night” outside school which Sarah directed and it has honestly been one of the best productions I have ever been involved in. By the time I left Kingsley College I looked as Sarah as a friend, someone I could go to for help and advice as well as having a laugh with. I went onto study Performing Arts at the University of Cumbria and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree.
I would be lying if I didn’t say my path wasn’t guided by Sarah’s influences, and dare I say I would not have the confidence I have today if it wasn’t brought out of me back in School. After graduating from University I have now gone down a more musical route and I am now gaining more and more success from being a singer/songwriter.
Musical Theatre Performer/Composer
I have had the pleasure working with Sarah on a number of projects throughout my years in education. The first was when I played Galileo in ‘We Will Rock You’ at Kingsley College in which she directed, this being a decisive moment in my life as it is this show that deciphered whether to stick to just being a musician, or to also pursue the mystical path of musical theatre. Fortunately, with Sarah’s direction I chose the latter which has led to an extremely exciting few years resulting in employment at Dominion Theatre in London where I am also co-producer of their small production company, Baby Dom Productions, and am just about to make my official West End debut in West End Heroes.
From a performer’s perspective, the most vital quality for a director to hold is guidance and good direction both off and on the stage especially for young people, something in which Sarah is exemplary in. Confidence is a huge issue for young performers and is something that I spent many years battling in school. Sarah’s approachable and positive manner gives even the most timid of performers a safety net and from my own personal experience, one less thing to be concerned over when you are facing those dreaded nerves.
One thing that is unquestionable is Sarah’s passion and drive not just for theatre, but for young people too. I have never seen a person so energised to better a young performer’s career no matter how big or small their talent. She will always see the potential in every child and will give each and everyone the same amount of nurturing that they deserve.
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