Launch of Kickstart Youth Theatre

Steven Stead of KickstArt addresses Durban Actors Studio students.


THE Durban Actors Studio has teamed up with the city’s main theatre production house, the award-winning KickstArt theatre company, to introduce Kickstart Youth Theatre (KYT).  The aim is to discover, develop and stage performance skills by talented youngsters aged nine to 21.

Award-winning actor, producer, director and scriptwriter Steven Stead, of KickstArt, explained that he and Durban Actors Studio head, Gill Brunings, came up with the idea to help bridge the gap between drama students and the profession.

“There are so many kids who want to be involved in the theatre, but who do not know the first thing about what goes into making a production,” explains Stead.

“So we are opening up our process to them and allowing them to see the work behind the magic. This involves watching rehearsals, meeting actors and directors, and, most important, actually watching productions. However, it is Gill’s ‘baby’, really. I am just the professional link.”

Steven Stead of KickstArt, wrote and directed this year’s Durban panto, Sinbad the Sailor.

Brunings, who opened the Durban Actors Studio in 2007, describes KYT as a production-based, youth theatre company that will offer focused stage training for dedicated young performers.

She says it will also provide contact with industry professionals, tangible and relevant skills, and involvement in the theatrical creation process.

“Students of KYT will experience enormous growth through acting, musical training, speech, creative movement, dance and involvement in the arts. Also, members will be treated as young professionals in training and held to high standards. Training is broken down into two age groups: ages nine to 14, and 15 to 21.”

Auditions will be held in January and the annual programme will start on February 2, 2018. Bursaries may be awarded at the discretion of Durban Actors Studio, subject to the pupil’s audition and interview.

Interested pupils are requested to visit the website at and complete an audition booking form, to secure an audition time slot.

Brunings says she has long been keen to start the youth theatre project.

“I received training, as a youngster, through the National Youth Theatre in England. It has been one of my goals to start a similar project in South Africa.

“We are looking at a programme that is performance-orientated; a place for young theatre-lovers to get together, talk, learn and explore the working world of theatre; learn the skills needed to create a sustainable career; and a place that can act as a feeder for professional production companies.”

Her Durban Actors Studio is a part-time, extramural performing arts training centre that aims to nurture and advance artistic ability and creative confidence in all students – children and adults.

“Our head office and main rehearsal/training studio is based in Durban – at 11 Albert Terrace, on the Point Waterfront – and we run satellite ‘speech and drama’ programmes at schools throughout the city.

Gill Brunings, director of Durban Actors Studio.

“We have, on average, 300 students, from the age of five to 65, who attend our programmes on an annual basis. Classes, in general, take place once a week, however our Productions and Adult Foundation Acting Programmes require more weekly commitment time, due to the intensive training period.

“We create and find as many opportunities as possible for our students to share their talent. We write and direct professional productions, work with training companies and provide actors for Corporate Immersive Training Projects.”

Her students have performed in professional productions, have been cast in international movies and TV advertisements, and have officially represented our country performing at the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, alongside the National Scottish Youth Theatre.

“Along with constantly growing and shaping our training programmes, our eyes are set on finding and working with established creatives to create a multi-functional, dynamic Black Box Theatre here in Durban.

“We are very excited about what lies ahead for Durban Actors Studio. We have big plans and the creative team in place to achieve our goals. Now it’s all down to hard work, thick skin and a little bit of theatre magic!”


NOTE: As a taste of things to come, a KYT holiday workshop is planned and open to anyone from the age of nine to 18. You do not need to be an existing member of the studio or KYT to be a part of it.

“Spend a day with performance training experts at Durban Actors Studio, as we explore the world of pantomime. Students will work in two groups, to ensure age-specific learning, as we perform our way through the songs, scenes and stock characters from a traditional Christmas pantomime.”

The day ends off with a ticket to the latest Kickstart pantomime, Sinbad the Sailor, starrimg Lyle Buxton in the name role, and Bryan Hiles in drag as a delicious dame.

The day is planned for Friday, December 8, the workshop running from 9am to 3pm at the Durban Actors Studio at the Point Waterfront. The show, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, is at 6.30pm that day.

The cost of R300 covers the day’s activities and one ticket to the pantomime. Additional tickets can be bought for only R130 each, so the entire family can enjoy the panto!

For any further information contact

Durban Actors Studio students in action.

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