Our trusted drama teachers are well-trained, highly experienced and know the Helen O’Grady curriculum inside out.

They’re also experts in bringing kids out of their shells. Here’s a bit about them…

Gareth Corke | Principal + Drama Teacher.

Hiya! I’m Gareth.
I have been involved in drama and acting all my professional life; but even before that- it was drama at school and youth theatre in my spare time, that triggered my love and fuelled my determination to build a career in the performing arts.

Before becoming your HOGDA Principal, I had a long and pretty successful time, acting in plays in London, touring too - both nationally and internationally. I’ve been a regular and made guest appearances on all kinds of programmes and channels including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Netflix and radio. I’ve also been in films and commercials broadcast all over the world and even a cheeky music video or 2! It hasn’t stopped at acting- I have also worked as a theatre and screen director, agent, set designer and acting teacher over many years now.

As a teacher, I worked with arts education companies all over the UK, specifically running drama classes and projects in inner city and rural schools, and departments of acting and performing in colleges and universities with all ages as well as training other teachers and adults to improve their acting and communication skills. I really believe drama is the key to amazing powers of speaking and influence which means I never stop learning! I look forward to getting to know you better over the next year; and learn what brilliant things you can do.

There are such exciting times ahead for all of us, so let’s … GO FOR IT!
Gareth

Michael Burnie | Senior Drama teacher

Hello everyone! I’m Michael.
I have been energetically teaching and nurturing Helen O’Grady students into confident performers since 2005. And I love every minute!



I’m also an accomplished actor and director and when not in mentor mode, direct full-on shows for the Brighton Theatre Group like this year’s run- away summer success Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’ve led productions of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, West Side Story, Hairspray, and Legally Blonde as well as choreographing things like the European tour of Hair… this year I start preparations for The Addams Family (which will be ghoul-tastic!), Sunset Boulevard and Saturday Night Fever.

So, I suppose you could say I’m a bit of a musicals fan! I’ve found acting and drama is as important in musicals as singing and dancing- and telling a good story should be made up of all kinds of interesting characters. One of my favourite roles has to be my stint as Mr Bump in TV’s The Mr Men.

What will your favourite character be? I can’t wait to find out!

Beth Symons | Drama teacher

Hello there!

I trained as an actress obtaining BA Hons in Acting for Stage & Media in London where I discovered my big loves were Comedy, Improv and Musical Theatre- and I’ve been lucky enough to perform all over the world (from Camden to Cairo my mum says!).

I’m a familiar face in shows at Brighton, Camden and Edinburgh Fringe, like my sell- out run of my own show ‘A Glass Of Nothing’ which I took to the Edinburgh Fringe and was a lifetime ambition fulfilled! I’m also the co-owner of Made-Up Mayhem - an improvised story telling adventure for children who are based in Sussex.

Teaching has always been important to me. I’ve taught 2 to 21 year- olds drama, dance, singing and everything in between. The ‘teaching bug’ is very similar to the ‘performing bug’ and enjoy nothing more than seeing my student’s confidence grow and their personalities blossom. I also tutor students in LAMDA examinations and to date all her have obtained 100% Distinctions-which I hope to help you achieve in your Helen O’Grady TRINITY awards.

What else? Well, living near the sea and long seafront walks are my favourite way to spend a Sunday and my 3 main loves in life are coffee, dogs and coffee- coloured dogs.

Kerri Hedley- Cheney | Drama teacher

Hello! I’m Kerri.

I’ve loved acting for as long as I can remember and was lucky enough to join a drama academy at the age of 11 where my passion for theatre and live performance flourished.

I've been involved in theatre and entertainment throughout my life and have played some amazing roles even winning awards for some!  Studying drama gave me the confidence I needed to get a job at sea where I spent 10 years travelling all over the world.

Acting, theatre and drama is honestly the most fun, fulfilling and joyful thing on earth and the friendships you make are so special. As I started at a drama academy myself, I love seeing our Helen O’Grady students finding as much joy in drama as I did!!

Acting...It’s simply the best

Gemma Corke | Drama teacher

Hiya I’m Gemma!

I’ve loved drama and acting for as long as can remember. As a child, I begged my mum to take me to drama lessons at my local theatre and those days were my favourite of the week. My brother was into acting and so I was not alone in exploring all things drama at school and college.

I have four children (count them- four!) who also have a great love for drama. I feel fortunate to now be able to work with other children both in the school environment and in performance skills alongside Gareth at Summer School Sussex.

By giving young people stage awareness and confidence in performance (whilst having a brilliant time) the Helen O’Grady system offers the perfect combination to becoming a well-rounded person.

Jonathan Daly | Finance Officer + Vice Principal

Hello everyone.

When I was younger, living in Glasgow I was part of my local youth theatre and amateur dramatics company. After a few shows as a backing dancer, I discovered being back stage and running the show was much more my thing!

This continued through college and my career running my own retail business and managing healthcare professionals like opticians and dentists. You have to be very organised to do my job and sometimes it can be a bit samey, which is why I’m delighted to be part of something as exciting as HOGDA!

This year we will be expanding the locations of our classes in Sussex so that you will have greater access to a HOG Academy near you .

I hope to see you all soon at the shows and if you have any queries re: payments or fees then please feel free to contact me.

Emily Tredwell | Media

I’m Emily

I manage our social media pages. With a background in Graphic Design and Teaching I love putting together fun, creative posts that make people smile and tell everyone what we’ve been up to.

Don’t forget to send Gareth and me all your fab HOGDA related photos and videos about your Academy times- I love choosing what we can post each month!

When I’m not sharing the amazing news of Helen O’Grady Sussex, I like walking my crazy dog in the countryside, growing weird shaped vegetables and laughing loudly with my silly friends

Khola | Chief Canine Consultant

I’m Khola -the office dog.

My favourite things are chasing balls on rope and eating all the socks I can find. I’m good at running and jumping and making you tickle my tummy on command.


If drama is about exploring- then I’m an expert! I can crawl down low or jump up high, crash into the waves or snuggle and hide on the sofa (it’s easy I just cover my eyes with my paw).

Woof luck and welcome to the HOGDA Sussex family!

Parent Ambassador

If you’d like to become a Parent or Student Ambassador (Youth Theatre pupils) and join our ambassador scheme, please get in touch sussex@helenogrady.co.uk.
If you’d like to know more about my brilliant team- just ask!
Gareth (your Principal).

What people say about us

My son’s drama teacher at Helen O’ Grady has been a huge inspiration to him. The lesson has benefited him in countless ways and he enjoys and looks forward to every lesson. He would go every day if he could!

Natasha, George’s mum

I would highly recommend both the drama classes and the summer school. The teacher is great with the kids – they love her – and she works hard with them to put on shows they are proud to be part of.

Julie-Anne, Noah’s mum

Eva has loved coming to drama classes. She is always keen and reports that she has had fun. The teachers are really warm and friendly and they have a great rapport with both the children and the parents.

Jon, Eva’s dad

See us in action!