Awards and graduations celebrated at Reynolds Academy of Performing Arts

THREE students of the local Reynolds Academy of Speech and Drama, Haggarstown have been selected amongst the top 50 Speech and Drama students in the country. Molly McKenna, Ciara Quigley and Roisin Matthews have each received the award for outstanding performance on the day of examination.

THREE students of the local Reynolds Academy of Speech and Drama, Haggarstown have been selected amongst the top 50 Speech and Drama students in the country. Molly McKenna, Ciara Quigley and Roisin Matthews have each received the award for outstanding performance on the day of examination.

The awards are for the students with the highest marks in the County and of the 42,000, candidates are examined throughout the year only approximately 50 Speech & Drama candidates are honoured with the award. The winners are invited to audition for the overall show in Dublin which will take place in October and the final show will be held in Athlone.

Their teacher and RAPA founder Patricia Reynolds spoke to the Democrat of the win,

“It is a great accolade for the girls and also for RAPA Drama. We have been fortunate to win every year, however this is the first year that three of my students received the award. So it’s fabulous!”

Patricia who been teaching Speech & Drama for 22 years recently saw the graduation of three of her longest standing students,

“This year there were 3 students who graduated from RAPA, Orlaith Kent, Eilis Hand and Shannon Bradley. I will be very sad to see them go as they are my longest standing students. I guess that’s the way it goes, every year one or more of the senior students finish up and move onto college’.

“In general, when the students have finished their 8th or Final Grade examinations, they graduate from RAPA. However, for the last 3 years running, I have had students who were going into their Leaving Cert year and had completed the grades. Because they love drama and RAPA, they continued to come to class and were also of invaluable help with the younger classes, particularly around Feis and exam time.’

“Daft as it may sound, quite heart-broken to see them go. For example Orlaith and Eilis, I have had with me since they were teeny tots. We actually become quite close because they are constantly growing and developing. I get the opportunity to watch them move from 4 year old, to upper Primary, through puberty and ready for college. I am blessed to have been allowed to share and be a part of this wonderful transition and to see them grow and mature into the lovely women they are today”.

For Patricia her role with her students is more than just that of an instructor as she explores real life issues in her classes,

“Due to the nature of Speech & Drama, there are many ‘life’ areas dealt with through improvised drama. The students deal with peer pressure, pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and many forms of bullying and abuse every day. Improvised drama allows them to explore solutions in a safe environment thereby allowing them to utilise those skills in real life situations’.

“This also gives me a very deep insight, knowledge and respect for my students who trust me and each other deeply. This trust develops over the years, within the group, student to student and student to teacher and visa versa. It is a gradual process of course, and varies quite a lot from age group to age group, however, each transition is necessary in Drama. I could speak on for too long on the developmental process and its intriquicies, and knowing just when it is right for a student to move onto the next level, which is quite different age wise, depending on the student’.

“On a day to day basis, I can be anything from a teacher first, to a mother and a friend. This is how I see my students, subsequently, I care for them very deeply and miss them when they move on. I am like a proud mother hen!’

FOR the girls too there have been many fond memories of their time with RAPA. Orlaith Kent who has studied at the school since she was five years old said,

“Although it sounds very clichee, I honestly don’t remember any dull moments. For me my whole experience at RAPA was a high point in my life. In my teenage years I had grown very fond of all things about speech and drama including Theory and this led to my five year consecutive achievement of the High Achiever Award for the Royal Irish Academy of Music for speech and drama. Whilst performing in the shows that concurred from these achievements I had the fortune of meeting Mary Mc Aleese and Bertie Ahern’.

“But for me the biggest achievement was winning the overall senior drama trophy at the feis in 2012. It had been my constant goal from when I was about 10 years old and I finally had reached it!”

Eilis Hand, who started at the school age four recently graduated after 14 years of training, “This year was my last year and I’m now 18, so I’ve been at RAPA roughly 14 years – a long time but I’ve enjoyed every minute’.

“Feis Dun Dealgan 2012 is a weekend that I will never forget. I knew that this year was going to be my last ever Feis so I began the weekend with intentions of just enjoying every minute of it. The poetry competition has always been my favourite and all I wanted to do was savour my last time on that stage... little did I know that I was going to be placed first in that competition, a moment that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life!’

“We had so much fun over the years, so many laughs and good times and I will miss every single minute of it!’

Patricia Reynolds teaches Speech and Drama at St. Oliver Plunkett National School, Blackrock, St. Fursey’s National School Haggardstown and Castletown Girls National School. Private classes at the Reynolds Academy of Performing Arts, Haggardstown are open to students from any school. For more information contact Patricia on 042-9322774.