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The Drama Studio

The Illawarra Performing Arts Centre is home to The Drama Studio, a dynamic drama school established in 1988 by Fiona Gabb-Finley. The Drama Studio offers drama classes for school students from Kindergarten through to Year 12 throughout the school year.

Classes run for 90 mins each week and follow the school term.

In Term 1, students work on a variety of different approaches to theatre performance. This is dependent on their age group. These include physical theatre, characterisation, commedia dell’arte, devising theatre, text interpretation, absurdism, teacher-in-role, storytelling, improvisation and many other styles of theatre.

In Term 2, each class begins working on a scripted workshop performance designed to demonstrate the skills they have learned throughout the term.

In Term 3, students return to learning new acting skills.

The final term of the year culminates in a production performed in the Bruce Gordon Theatre at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. Primary classes work together, as do high school classes.


Fiona Gabb-Finley teaches all classes, and all Primary classes also have an assistant.

Fiona has taught directing and acting extensively throughout Australia and was a regular tutor with the NIDA Open Program for over 10 years. She also conduct workshops for school teachers on how to implement drama in the classroom for the N.S.W Department of Education.


  • NIDA Director’s Course – Completed in 1995
  • Studied at the internationally acclaimed Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris
  • Associate Diploma of Arts (Dance/Drama) – UNSW
  • Bachelor of Arts (English/Art) – CSU
  • Graduate Diploma in Education (Drama/English) – UNE
  • Affiliate Director of Sydney Theatre Company in 1996
  • Artistic Director of The Drama Studio

Directing Credits

  • This Property is Condemned; Tears of the Poppy; The Caucasian Chalk Circle; Cross Purpose (NIDA)
  • Return to Sender (Canberra Playwrights Conference)
  • Cordonnerie (Jacques Lecoq, Paris)• Summer of The Aliens (New Theatre)
  • The Children’s Crusades (Roo Theatre Company)

Other Credits

  • Assistant Director of Light Up The Sky (Stella Adler School, New York), King Lear and Macbeth (Sydney Theatre Company)
  • Casting Director and Co-ordinator of the feature film The Elixir
  • Production Coordinator for the SBS series Bondi Banquet

We would like to thank Peoplecare for their support in helping Merrigong engage with young people in the Illawarra by funding projects that create and facilitate inspiring theatre experiences.

Coming Up…