Teacher Biographies

Here is some background information on the  current Helen O’Grady drama teachers.  We’re very proud of our dedicated and talented teachers whose enthusiasm and commitment make Helen O’Grady Drama Classes so rewarding for our students and their parents.  To read some of the lovely feedback from parents and carers about our classes, visit our Testimonials page.

Ian Brown B.A. (Hons) P.G.C.E. (Principal) former Franchisee of the Year


Ian was one of the first Principals to join the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy when it was  introduced into the UK in 1994 and is delighted to be celebrating 27 years with the organisation.

His interest in drama goes back to when he was a teenager, watching shows performed by the old boys’ drama society at his school. He joined the group as soon as he left university and has never stopped acting and directing since then, including some occasional work as a professional actor.

His degree in French and German, gained at the University of Salford, followed by a P.G.C.E. from Goldsmiths College, London, led him to teach the languages in a senior school for some years. Then Ian saw an advert in his local paper and it led to him: “….finding a job to which I was perfectly suited. It allows me to live my life exactly as I like and I love being able to help so many children develop and gain confidence. I have watched so many, many children grow in self-esteem. It is wonderful seeing those who can barely speak when they arrive, later performing confidently on stage,” Ian says.

Maria Scarlet Hancock – BA (Hons) English Literature and Creative Writing

From previous student to current teacher, the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy provided an excellent foundation for the start of my theatrical journey. As a shy seven-year-old I joined the academy and have been deepening my passion for drama and theatre ever since. I am delighted to be working with creative and enthusiastic students as my previous work experience for the academy has been put to use. I am able to reminisce on my childhood through the scripts and activities that I used to perform.

The confidence that the academy instilled within me has enabled me to seize several exciting opportunities; I am now graduating from university, and have since been involved in writing, producing, and performing my own creative writing. I am so eager to share my passion with students and I will also be continuing my own developmental journey through teaching drama. I have performed in a huge variety of shows, both academically and recently in a few local theatres in musicals and plays. I am so excited to be re-joining the Helen O’Grady family, and to see where my journey within the acting industry progresses as I love to explore new roles and opportunities!

Maria teaches the classes at Sanderstead and Upper Norwood.

Tenikah Beveney B.A. (Hons)

As the newest member of the teaching team, I’m incredibly excited to be a part of such an inspirational, enthusiastic and important academy. Having just graduated with a BA degree in Theatre & Performance studies from the University of Warwick, I am keen to continue exploring drama and how it inspires people. My interest in performing arts originated in dance as I attended weekly classes from the age of six, giving me a variety of performing opportunities including dance and drama competitions and performing in amateur and professional pantomimes in local theatres.

I have worked at Kidzania for the last three years and have had work experience in schools. I am delighted to be able to continue working with children, and to be a part of a company that works to develop their inner confidence through theatre. I am passionate about the role theatre and the performing arts can play in the development of young people. The broad range of skills developed through theatre will support them on any path they decide to take in the future.

My interest in drama sparked as a result of drama competitions and drama GCSE. Ever since I have followed my passion for theatre, taking it at A level and directing, producing and writing theatre scripts alongside my degree in the university’s drama societies. My interest in both theatre and dance has led me to take an interest in physical theatre, which I look forward to teaching in my classes.

Tenikah teaches the classes at Thornton Heath, Chipstead, and Banstead.

Tamsin Reeve B.A. (Hons) Drama, M.A. Physical Theatre


Tamsin started at the Academy in 2004 and after a short break returned in 2010.

Tamsin has a first class honours degree in Drama from the University of Exeter and followed this with an MA in Physical Theatre. This lead to the formation of two theatre companies, performing at the international Arts Festival in Johannesburg and also producing award winning and critically acclaimed fringe theatre in London.

Tamsin’s love of theatre started when she stepped on stage aged three and she hasn’t looked back since. It is a wonderful hobby to pursue and she thoroughly enjoys developing this love of creativity with her classes.

Tamsin teaches the classes at Norbury, Waddon and West Wickham.

Leigh Atkinson B.A. (Hons) Performing Arts 

Leigh Atkinson teacher at Helen O'Grady Croydon

Leigh joined us in January 2015 and teaches the Helen O’Grady classes in Selsdon and Wallington.  She has completed a BA Honours in performing arts, learning the discipline of contemporary dance and theatre. Experienced in teaching dance and drama including LAMDA examinations, Leigh also works as a children’s party entertainer and a children’s workshop facilitator. She travels to local primary schools, delivering science workshops and assemblies in a fun, interactive way and is also a leader running school camps.

Leigh has acted in theatre, screen and commercials and still likes to find time to involve herself in new acting projects.

Leigh teaches the classes at Wallington and Selsdon

Simon Long B.A. Primary Education


Simon has had a love for drama for as long as he can remember; the very first step he ever took into drama was in fact by joining this very drama club ‘Helen O’ Grady Drama Academy’. He first started at 5 years old, originally he was a very shy and quiet boy, but as he came to the academy his confidence grew and grew into what you see at his classes today.

His interest in drama and performance increased along with his confidence and his fascination led him to take a BTEC in Performing Arts, earning a Distinction. He has been in over 40 different amateur productions so far, and has started taking roles backstage in professional productions. He studied at the prestigious Rose Bruford College, learning different aspects of performance and theatre and is now a primary school teacher.

Simon is also the longest running Helen O’ Grady student in the world and attended his class for 16 years. He has no regrets and lots of cherished memories. He became a teaching assistant in the classes to see what it was like to teach a class, and also to learn the skills he needed to be a good and enthusiastic drama teacher. Simon is now the teacher at the very class in Beckenham he first attended all those years ago and loves every minute of it. He hopes that all the children will have the same fun, fascination and friendship as he did for all the years he attended, and that they grow into amazing people.

Simon is very proud to be a teacher with Helen O’Grady. He cannot imagine his life without drama, and he cannot imagine his life without the Helen O’ Grady Drama Academy. Simon teachers the Youth Theatre class at Beckenham.

Luke Dayhill F.D.A. Masters Acting

Luke is a professionally trained actor having graduated from 2 of the top 5 drama schools in the country gaining his foundation diploma at LAMDA and his masters in acting at The Oxford School of Drama.

His professional acting experience ranges from lead roles in theatres across London including The SOHO Theatre, The Lion and Unicorn Theatre and The Tristan Bates Theatre to working on many professional film sets, most notably with Amazon Prime.

Additionally, he comes with a wealth of teaching experience having gained over 5 years’ experience working with children of all ages and skill sets in a dramatic capacity as well as working for various drama teaching companies.

Luke teaches the primary class at Beckenham and the classes at Purley and Croydon.

Penny Fisher


“Penny has been working for the Academy since 1996 as both a teacher and office administrator.  Penny originally trained as a PE and Drama Teacher and went on to work with PMLD children before having her own family. 

Age ranges

We offer our theatre training and children's acting classes to the following age ranges:

Lower primary - 5 to 7 years old
Upper primary - 8 to 11 years old
Youth theatre - 12 to 17 years old

Find your nearest drama club today by calling 020 8667 9812 or Enrol now

Important dates

Summer Term 2022
Monday 25th April - Saturday 23rd July
Half Term Monday 30th May – Saturday 4th June

Parent Days
A chance to see your child in action during a class, usually in the last 3 weeks of term. Dates will be emailed to all parents/carers.