GAPA was formed in 2003 by the academy’s Principal, Peter Birch (BA Hons MA) and one of its lead tutors, Dean Sumner (BA Hons), and rose from the ashes of the previous drama club and, it’s more successful predecessor, STAGE80, that produced some of the past and present Garrick acting talent.
GAPA was brought into being under the watchful eye of the then Chairman, Nina Williamson (now Collins) who wanted to create a drama school where children could come and enjoy the pleasure that drama has given to many of those who had already discovered the joys of the theatre. Once Nina had brought Dean and Peter on board to drive forward the academy it slowly developed into the hot-house of drama and musical theatre that it is today. Over the years it has been helped along its way by numerous individuals at the Garrick and has now developed from 60 students to more than twice that number today.
It initially began with two tutors and one assistant and has now developed into having three tutors and three assistant tutors who have all trained in the performing arts, including a choreographer and a speech and drama tutor.
With the introduction of MINI GAPA in 2013 we have also added six trainee assistants who have been brought up through the GAPA ranks, all working with our students to develop their drama knowledge and gain experience.
In October 2020 we developed our GAPA Dramathon week during the October half term and were able to have a fun filled brief return to drama, in between lockdowns. Due to the Dramathon’s success we now offer a range of school holiday courses throughout the year.
Main stage productions have included Alice in Wonderland Jr, Annie Jr, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Babes in the Wood, Seussical, Alice in Wonderland, Our Day Out, Guys and Dolls, Honk, Bugsy Malone, Fiddler on the Roof, Pirates of Penzance, Bite Nite, Oh, What a Lovely War, Our Town and Tales from the Arabian Nights.
In the Lauriston Studio we have performed a range of plays including Catholic School Girls, Sign of the Four, An Inspector Calls, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Stags and Hens, Here Comes The Sun and Two Planks and a Passion.
Our Lauriston studio productions are performed by our senior group and are chosen to stretch them and engage the full group to ensure everyone takes an active part in the performance (on stage or in a technical role).