Stage is set for some stellar careers

YOUNG performers and production artists who have perfected their craft in Warrington are about to step out onto a wider stage.

Students from Priestley College have secured places at the UK’s most prestigious theatre schools, many having auditioned for their places online during lockdown.

Among them is Connor Hawker who discovered his passion for putting on a show during his time at Penketh High. He is now headed to East 15 Acting School – voted the best in the country for drama by The Guardian this year.

“It also has 100% student satisfaction so I’m looking forward to immersing myself into that positive environment with a new bunch of talented people with the same ambitions,” said Connor.

Priestley’s performers have also secured places at Bristol Old Vic, one of the most respected conservatoires in the UK, Arden School of Theatre, which boasts a number of TV actors as alumni and Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts where everyone from Lesley Manville to dancer and choreographer Derek Hough have trod the boards.

Former Golborne High pupil Nathen Cullen – who took the lead in Priestley’s production of Grease last year – has secured a place at The Hammond, a centre of excellence for dance.

Assistant Principal Sarah Graham, who is singing tutor on BTEC Performing Arts course, said: “We are lucky at Priestley to attract the most talented young performers in the area and every year they go on to great things.

“This year their route has been slightly different given the circumstances, and many students have needed to undertake a rigorous online audition process. They have all excelled and deserve to move on to their chosen destinations with a proud spring in their step.”

Former Culcheth High pupil Rae Atkin is also progressing in September as she is heading to The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama to study Stage Management & Technical Theatre.

During her time studying Production Arts at Priestley she played a key role behind the scenes on numerous productions.

It was studying under the tutelage of Mark Edgington and Debbey Clitheroe that inspired her to take Stage Management.

“I arrived at Priestley thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do in my career, but after studying Production Arts for only a few months it changed everything I thought I knew about myself,” she said.