Sian Shin wins Trinity College London’s Exhibition Prize

Our warmest congratulations to Sian, who has been selected from all candidates in the Speech and Drama exams 2015 for the Exhibition Prize. Prizes are awarded annually to candidates who have gained the highest distinction marks in a practical examination at Grades 5-8 and Advanced Certificatfor for the Bahamas, West Indies, USA and Canada, one prize for each grade level 

Sian won the Prize for her Grade 6 Speech and Drama with a score of 98%.  

Sian has been very active in Collingwood Schools theatre productions as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, Ellie & Margery inThe Dining Room, Katherina Cavalieri in Amadeus and as Waitress in The Breakfast Special.

Behind the stage, she has worked as the assistant stage manager for United Players of Vancouver’s production of A Man for All Seasons, the production assistant for MJ Lee’s short film Story of Us, and the assistant stage manager for Stanley Park’s Theatre Under the Stars’ production of Beauty and the Beast.

Sian is looking forward to studying communication studies and media studies in university – and she is certain that speech and drama will continue to be an important part of her life.

Nova Dexter selected for RIOTOUS YOUTH

We are delighted to annouce that Nova Dexter has been selected to be a member of Riotous Youth, part of Bard on the Beach for the 2017 season. 

Riotous Youth is a paid, post-secondary internship offered at Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. Designed for young people either beginning or considering a career in theatre, the program combines training and experience in teaching artistry, Shakespeare performance, public speaking and leadership. 

For ten weeks this summer, Nova will be mentored by experienced teachers and directors and will mentor children and youth in the Young Shakespeareans Workshop which or over twenty years have inspired, nurtured, and encouraged the dreams of children and teens from ages eight to eighteen. Professional actors along with the Riotous Youth help participants bring Shakespeare’s words to life through coaching in voice, movement and dialogue, and with activities designed to boost confidence and foster collaborative relationships. The goal is for Young Shakespeareans to gain ease with the language, passion for the text and friendships that last long beyond the workshop

Check out the video about Riotous Youth at the Bard website.

Arlene Irwin Reporting

I often feel a little like " Benjamin Button"  where at 50 years old, I seem to be getting younger by the minute and finally able to do things that I longed to do many years ago. 

One of those things was attending drama college which just over one month ago, I was lucky enough to do. 

Last year my Drama coaches, Kay and Antony Stamboulieh, introduced to me the notion of traveling to Kent, England to attend one of the summer workshops at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, where Antony trained as an actor. 

This was such a great opportunity, I couldn't ignore it and so shortly afterwards, I secured my place in the course entitled " Shakespeare and Michael Chekhov - Synchronicity between actor and text."

The start date for this course was July 4th and it just so happens that a few days earlier, veteran actress Ann Mitchell was due to perform in the West End play called " A View from Islington North".  I mention this because Ms. Mitchell happens to be my all time favourite actress whom I have wanted to meet for the past 30 years. It is my admiration for her work and talent that generated my desire to pursue an education in drama and performance. 

Anyway, I decided to travel from Canada a few days earlier than originally planned so that I could finally see my dramatic heroine in the flesh ( on stage that is). I didn't actually intend to hang around after the play as although I have few fears on stage, I tend to be a little shy in real life situations such as this.  Seeing Ann Mitchell live on stage would have been enough for me. 

However, as luck, or destiny would have it, I happened to be in the tiny foyer of the Arts Theatre a little earlier than intended (as my heels were too high to wander around London any longer) and I happened to start a conversation with a lovely lady called Margaret. I told her the reason for my early pilgrimage to London and the fact I wasn't going to wait around afterwards.  Her eyes suddenly lit up and with a smile she said “ well, that's too special to miss, I happen to be an actress and I have a friend who is on Face Book with Ann.  I'm going to text her right now to see if she can get a message to Ann"  Well the next few minutes are a little bit of a blur but sure enough, Margaret soon received a message back to say that Ann would be delighted to meet me. 

After a wonderful play, I sat patiently waiting in the foyer and soon I was face to face with Miss Mitchell.  What a lovely and gracious lady, so commanding on stage and so humble off. What a perfect combination! With shaking hands I took hers and thanked her for inspiring me to pursue my passion of acting.  With her sweet Cockney accent, she thanked me back and later that evening, she looked me up on Face Book and we are now friends. Talk about a dream come true? Actually more than I could have ever imagined!

Then after I came down to earth ( it took a day or two) I traveled to Kent to begin my 7 day course at Rose Bruford. What a wonderful experience that was! The Instructor Graham Dixon immediately transported us to a holistic world of learning. 

Mr. Dixon was very passionate about the Michael Chekhov method of acting and I have to say at first, I had to leave my mind wide open in order to take it all in. It was quite different from anything that I have experienced before. 

Michael Chekhov (apparently a relative of Anton) believed that contrary to other teaching, any emotion can be generated by gestures. This method focuses on a set of "principles" which the actor can use to generate an emotion within without depending on his own emotional experiences.   For instance, if one's character is an introvert, some simple physical gestures that we practiced were used as the catalyst that naturally evoked the related emotion.  At first I have to admit I was a little sceptical but as I began to practice many of these gestures and principles, my emotions did change without effort. I truly felt that with these tools, I could become anyone I wanted on stage. 

Over the course of a week, we utilized gestures while studying Shakespeare's text and I must say, I gained a wealth of experience that I never thought possible in that regard. 

All this new information as well as a perfectly idyllic location proved to be a physical, educational and emotional retreat that I could have only dreamed of. 

As Cavafy once said in his poem " Ithaka" (the first poem I learned with Kay and Tony)

Keep Ithaka always in your mind. 

Arriving there is what you're destined for. 

But don't hurry the journey at all. 

Better if it lasts for years, 

so you're old by the time you reach the island, 

wealthy with all you've gained on the way, 

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich

Well, I arrived, found my Ithaka and it was well worth the journey.

Danesh Graham on his way to London!

     We are excited to announce that Danesh Zhao Graham has been accepted for the Foundations Acting course at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in the United Kingdom, having gone through an arduous selection process involving 3000 candidates to be one of only 30 students in the programme.

     Rose Bruford is one of the UK Conference of Drama Schools and provides rigorous and professional training in all aspects of performance.  Danesh will train with experienced acting staff and visiting directors as well as other industry professionals.  The Foundation course will prepare him for the three year Honours Acting Bachelor of Arts.He is also excited about the opportunities to see live London theatre and learn about working as an actor.  His goal is to get his Honours Acting B.A. and work in the business.  We wish him all the best in this exciting new endeavour.

     Over the years at dramaschool-Vancouver Danesh has achieved outstanding results in Trinity College London examinations, having completed his Grade 8 Speech & Drama in 2015 with Distinction and his Associate Diploma in Performing Speech and Drama this June also with Distinction.

     From an early age Danesh has been fascinated by the imaginary world, hence his passion for theatre.  His early childhood was spent in China and he still has fond memories of his time there.  He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and has MC’d many Chinese cultural events.  Another passion is singing, both solo and choral and he is looking forward to the  vocal training at Rose Bruford.

     A family friend has written a poem in Mandarin for Danesh, which Danesh has translated into English.  This beautiful poem refers specifically to Danesh and the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which Danesh performed for his Associate Diploma; however, the poem is very fitting for all of our students setting out on new roads:

In the Distance You Sail

     by Xiao Bi, translated by Danesh Zhao Graham


In the distance you sail


drifting toward the horizon


Clouds above waving you farewell


Your dream, like a lofty sail catching the wind,

sends you forward


The gentle tides of Vancouver


cannot hold you longer


Roaring in your heart


The bravery of a boy now grown


Strong and mature


Youthful fire in your veins,


fueling your wonder and curiosity,

carry you further away from shore


And when the unforgiving ocean beats away at your vessel

with such fury–it's mast scantily seen under the blanket of blue. 


You stand, arms raised screaming-


"Come! Let the storm be more violent!" 


No relentless storm


No terrifying tsunami can sink you


a spot in a wide sea, your lonely shadow,

blends into the congenial dark of night


where you sit below the stars, singing 


the Rime of the Ancient Mariner


the homeland of Shakespeare now before you


Dawn now peeking over the horizon


a warm, golden glow illuminating your wooden hull


A pure white albatross soaring gracefully over your bronze shoulders




Emily Wong

Emily Wong, a student at our Vancouver dramaschool, is in her final year of the UBC Transition programme, a two year programme that transitions from elementary school to the University.  A true polymath, 14 year old Emily’s passions range from Physics to Poetry with so many in-between.  Her dilemna right now is prioritizing her interests in preparation for university next fall. Will her career be in biology, engineering, business, writing, psychology? Top of her bucket list is to travel the world. 

This summer she did a short internship at Seaspan, the Vancouver shipbuilding company, where she was given two days to research and prepare a business presentation for the Horizontal Engineering and Program Plan division. Here is a comment from one of the engineers, "Emily did an absolutely awesome job!  This is a subject that is not understood by many experienced project managers; but this presentation takes the "mystery" out of Earned Value Management and makes it easy to grasp and understand.  I had many reference sources while studying for my PMP exam a few years ago and this would have been more helpful than some of the material I had!”  Emily used the example of baking cookies for profit, demonstrating precisely why Earned Value Management is used as an early warning system to determine if a project is behind schedule or over budget.  She “hit the task out of the ball park in the words of the Program Manager.

Just recently, Emily learned that one of her poems will be published by Polar Expressions in The Chance, a collection of poems and short stories written by young Canadians.  Here is Emily’s poem, entitled Honest Masks:

What makes the world go round?

Some say love, some say money

some say the sun’s gravitational pull.

But the true oil of society’s machinery

drips from cold pressed lies.

Don’t deny it—

you’ve lied already today

or maybe you’ll tell one later.

Fibs, fable, tall stories, 

“omitting the truth,”

we all do it: it’s in our nature.

“Honesty is the best policy”

…but is it really?

Is it really worth hurting someone’s feelings?

You say you want the truth

…but do you really?

Here is my truth:

I know when people tell a lie.

I see it in their faces.

I can’t tell you how I do this

it would be like describing colour 

to someone who has never seen.

But these are not shades of saffron and marigold

I see rust and starless black.

The sweet angels have their secrets

which flicker them to demons.

I can’t tell them, of course.

They would cast me out

sever all connections.

Because you can’t have me knowing

all your dirty little secrets.

So I block them out—

continue as if I hadn’t seen 

that tiny expression

flashing past your honest mask.

I wonder how it would be like

in your blissful, ignorant world.

For if you could see what I see…

we’d probably all be gone;

lying until extinction.

This oil that keeps our societies running

seems grimy and vile,

this inky darkness causes such unease.

Yet when you spread it thin

look closely

you can see the rainbows within.

Rose Bruford Post

My Intense Summer Experience by Nevada Christensen

Serendipity is “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way", and that defines exactly my experience at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance's Summer School 2015 in London, England. A few years ago, I watched a UK television mini series titled Nearly Famous, about young people at a drama school. I loved the show so much and longed to go to a school just like that one day! Imagine my surprise, when walking through the doors of Rose Bruford for my first day of the course–this was the exact school where they filmed! And I had no idea!  As we toured the campus, I felt I was in a bit of a dream.  

 Rose Bruford is one of the top drama schools in Western Europe and it also happens to be the Theatre School that one of my teachers at dramaschoolAntony Stamboulieh, went to. The first week was classical training, culminating in a performance of The Tempest and the second week was contemporary study with a performance at the end of the week in front of an invited audience entitled Renegades . We also did voice and musical theatre workshops each week with top notch instructors.

To say that the course was challenging is an understatement. Imagine having to prepare a top quality performance in less than 3 days of rehearsal, but it was 100% worth it. The instructors on our course were wonderfully supportive and pushed each student in a way that brought out their best. Our course director, Tony James, said that you learn nothing from success, and that failure is the best way to get better. You bet we failed! But it only made us stronger as a ensemble.

 There were 10 of us on the course, and we were from all around the world. I was the only North American student, but we had students from Sweden, Germany, Belgium, and all across the UK. These people were so wonderfully talented, and I made the deepest friendships with them in just two weeks.

 The facilities at Rose Bruford are beautiful. It is such a creative, calming campus located in Lamorbey Park in Sidcup. From the trees and grassy areas, to the studio spaces and the original barn theatre where Miss Bruford first began her school, there is such a richness of culture and creativity here!

 To close, I want to really emphasize the idea of taking risks and not being afraid of failure. I'm a perfectionist, but the most important thing I learned from my time at Rose Bruford Summer School, was to try and if I fail, I will have learned something valuable.

 “In life and this craft called 'acting', you must work very hard, face your fears/push beyond them, be kind, not take yourself too seriously, and have fun", Judith Luscalzo.

See my photos in the Photo Album