Art Umbrella School Of Performing Arts

The Art Umbrella School of Performing Arts is the premier drama school in the Sutherland Shire, providing quality tuition in stage and screen acting for children, teens and young adults since 1986. We prepare students for stage and screen work and provide authentic performance opportunities.

Drama School

The Art Umbrella engages students in the wonder & power of the dramatic arts in a fun and exciting environment at our dedicated, professionally equipped drama studio. The school creates opportunities for participation in the dramatic arts and equips its students with the skills needed to be strong, confident & creative actors.


The Art Umbrella offers quality acting tuition in a learning environment that sees the growth of the actor and the growth of the person as one and the same. We value and nurture individuality, independent thinking and self-discovery whilst providing grounding in acting techniques that our students will carry with them into the future.


Art Umbrella programs aim to extend each student’s innate talent by developing their self-esteem, creativity and skill across a range of theatrical performance. There are weekly classes, individual one-on-one tuition and performance opportunities. We progressively take students from theory and craft skills to practice.

Many students have continued into the State Drama ensembles and HSC 'OnStage', graduated from NIDA, VCA, the universities of NSW, Sydney, Wollongong, Nepean and Charles Sturt. Students have gained work professionally in Sydney and many have travelled and worked overseas gaining professional work in productions on stage, in theatre, film and television; including L.A., New York and London.

Art Umbrella nurtures independent thinking and self-discovery

Our youngest students perform independently on stage in plays written specially for each class at the Art Umbrella.

Bespoke pantomimes written and composed by the Art Umbrella team are produced once a year as an extra-curricular enrichment program.

Art Umbrella programs give students experienced direction across a range off both genre and performance style.

We value the importance of high-level production values and encourage students to become involved in technical operations.

At the Art Umbrella, our Mid-Year and End of Year productions foster collaboration, fun and friendship.

Studio South, the Art Umbrella's sister organisation, challenges actors to push themselves beyond their comfort zone.

Drama Classes & Performance Opportunities

Professionally trained tutors provide quality drama tuition through weekly classes leading to a range of performance opportunities, including Mid-Year and End of Year Showcases as well as whole school productions such as our annual Pantomime.

For young adults, we have Studio South - which is our senior performance group - creating cutting edge theatre for the community. One on one tuition, by appointment, is also available along with preparation workshops for HSC Drama.

Drama Classes

We provide quality drama tuition for students aged 6 to18. Our program aims to extend and nurture each student’s innate talent through a range of skill development activities, leading ultimately to performance.

Our program follows the NSW DET school calendar. Classes run once a week for two hours, throughout each ten-week term. All classes are age based. Our annual pantomime is an extension class that is available to students already enrolled in a weekly class.

Audition preparation, workshops for Primary and Secondary school groups as well as HSC Drama Individual Project and Group Presentation workshops can be arranged by appointment.

Trial Classes

If you are wondering if our classes will suit you and your child, we cordially invite you discuss the options with us. We've found that an initial chat on the phone is invaluable in helping us match students with the available programs.

Junior Troupe \ Junior Ensemble \ Junior Company \ Senior Ensemble \ Senior Company

Trial lessons are $30. This is deducted from the course fee should you progress to enrol in a program. Please Note: Places are limited and enrolment cannot be guaranteed

Please click below to complete the short form, after which you will receive confirmation by email.

Performance Opportunities

The school provides students with a range of performance opportunities, including our Mid-Year and End of Year Showcases, our annual pantomime and our Studio South productions.

The Pantomime is our flagship production, culminating in a one-week theatrical run, involving full production elements at a local theatre during the school holidays. Students have the opportunity to further their skill set in acting, movement and song whilst collaborating with other students of all ages from within the school.

Studio South is our young adult’s theatre company founded by James McCuaig in 2017. The two-pronged goal of Studio South is to provide challenging performance opportunities for older teens through the public performance of thought-provoking contemporary theatre.

Our Teachers

At the Art Umbrella, we value individuality, independent thinking and self-discovery. Our goal is to nurture the innate skills of our students and empower each of them to be strong, confident & creative actors.

Michelle McCuaig B.A (Hons.) Drama Dip. Ed.

Michelle is a highly qualified drama teacher with over 30 years of drama teaching experience and has a UNSW Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in Drama, English and History, and a Diploma of Education. Michelle brings to the school a wealth of talent and experience in physical theatre, singing, direction and theatrical design. Michelle has extensive drama workshop experience as a committee member of the NSW Drama Association and a specialist tutor on NSW DET Gifted and Talented Programs. Michelle has considerable experience in directing, casting, make-up, stage managing and has directed performance pieces for International University Conferences, NSW State Drama Festivals, HSC drama and musicals. Michelle has been involved in running in-services in Drama Teaching Technique to primary school teachers and was also an audition panel judge for the NSW Performing Arts Unit.

  • Vision Statement

    Michelle’s vision has always been to create a learning environment where students feel safe to explore their sense of self, build their confidence and creativity whilst strengthening their skills as an actor. “Drama teaches so much more than the technical aspects of performance. Students learn skills that they will carry with them always. Drama contributes to a child’s self-actualisation by giving them the opportunity to express a range of emotions through the characters and circumstances that they take on. More than this, Drama strengthens a student’s creative problem solving skills, getting them to play with boundaries of what can’t be done to what can be.”

James McCuaig

James is a talented actor, singer and musician who achieved a Band 6 in HSC Drama and was a member of the NSW State Drama Company. James studied Performing Arts at Wollongong University and acting at The Actor’s Centre, Sydney and has performed in various musicals, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Les Miserables.” James also travelled Australia performing in Iconic Productions T.I.E production, The Colonial Show. More recently, James appeared on Octopus, a Chinese nationally broadcast television show filmed at the Sydney Opera House. James is currently the founder and director of Studio South Theatre Company. His productions include Bassett (2017), I’m Spilling My Heart Out Here (2018), You Only Live Once (2018), Extremism (2019), This Had Better Be Good (2019), The Blue Electric Wind (2019) and God Play (2019). James is also the director and musical composer of our annual pantomime. Pantomime productions include Cinderella (2015) Alice in Wonderland (2016) Snow White (2017) Little Red Riding Hood (2018).

  • Vision Statement

    “Learning to act challenges our brains and bodies like nothing else. The process is different for every actor, and I enter my classroom excited to guide each student individually as they explore their strengths, weaknesses and interests. My students become creative abstract thinkers, practised at reacting quickly and unexpectedly. They work to develop true focus, with an intensity and commitment on stage that makes actors move audiences. They learn to control their body and voice, using them together to create emotion and atmosphere. My students learn to collaborate with each other, solve and perform as a team of equals. It’s a privilege to offer students a place where they look forward to working so hard!”

Thomasin McCuaig

Thomasin is a talented singer, actor and writer who achieved a Band 6 in HSC Drama and has a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University, majoring in Theatre and Performance Studies and English Literature. She has performed in various plays and musicals, including the Kirrawee High School productions, Leader of the Pack and Aida. Her singing achievements include performing at the Brass Monkey, Star City Casino for a major charity event, the main stage at Cronulla for Australia Day in 2016 and with the James Morrison Big Band. Thomasin has a huge passion for drama teaching and has taught students aged 5-13 for the past six years. Thomasin recently appeared on Japanese morning television show “ZIP!”, presenting a six-day exposé of Sydney. Thomasin also has a strong interest in writing and editing and is currently undergoing a paid internship with Signature Media, specialising in travel publications. Thomasin is also a resident writer, who has written plays for junior classes and has recently taken up the role of administrator for the Art Umbrella.

  • Vision Statement

    Thomasin is passionate about the effectiveness of drama as a means of developing the whole child and loves that teaching Drama brings together her two passions, performance and engagement with the written word. “I love that drama brings words and action together. Drama is the most literate of all the arts. Regardless of what the students are doing, whether it be role play, improvisation or script work, students are working with words and bringing those words to life. Drama strengthens a child’s reading, comprehension and their understanding of narrative structure as well as giving them a greater sense of inflection, tone and meaning.”

Jackson Carroll

Jackson is a musician and actor who has been a prominent part of The Art Umbrella for half a decade as a student, actor and teacher. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education double degree majoring in Theatre and Performance Studies and English at the University of Sydney. Jackson has been heavily involved in a number of school musical productions and events with De La Salle College Caringbah and Kirrawee High School as an actor and singer. Jackson has also performed in the 2019 Studio South productions Extremism, The Blue Electric Wind and This Had Better Be Good. Jackson is an upcoming musical artist, who recently completed a national tour with The Beautiful Girls. As his own musical act, Jackson has performed at local venues, Nannup Music Festival in Western Australia, Shire Vibes 2020 and the Make it Rain Bushfire Relief Concert in Byron Bay, alongside artists Wolfmother and Bernard Fanning with Chris Hemsworth and Celeste Barber as MC’s.

  • Vision Statement

    Jackson believes that Drama encourages the best kind of learning: The process of discovery that comes from doing. Jackson loves the sense of play inherent in all Drama. “I try to bring humour to all my lessons. All teachers know that humour helps students learn more efficiently. We are joyful when we are relaxed. When we are relaxed, we are more likely to learn. Through studying drama and performing, students laugh, poke fun at themselves and develop a kind of camaraderie with one another that is rarely experienced anywhere else. A drama ensemble creates a strong bond that isn’t easily splintered. Theatre is history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, music, dance, art all wrapped into one.

Ruby Hamersley

Ruby is a passionate actor and writer currently studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English Literature at the University of Sydney. She has performed in three Studio South Theatre Company productions, including Extremism (2019), The Blue Electric Wind (2019) and God Play (2019) and was also an Assistant Producer and Director of the latter two. Ruby performed in Willoughby Girls’ High School musical production of Into The Woods and competed in State Theatresports throughout her high school years. Ruby also specialises in teaching improvisation as a foundation for creative and dynamic performances. She undertook a six-month internship at The Art Umbrella before being offered her own classes. Ruby enjoys honing her playwriting and script work and received a state ranking of 5th in NSW for her short film in English Extension 2.

  • Vision Statement

    “Theatre is a beautiful craft of expression. Whether they're tackling tragedy or comedy, young actors get to imaginatively connect with complex emotions and explore the experiences of other people. They begin to see language differently. It becomes an exciting tool to be controlled and honed in order to express themselves and their ideas. I love encouraging young people to push the boundaries of how they think and what their bodies, faces and words can communicate. As actors on stage, our students get to link people together in a shared moment.”

Robert McCuaig (Writer)

Robert is a highly experienced theatre practicioner with a B.A., Dip. Ed., M.A (Film & Theatre Studies) and Cert 111 Entertainment Industry. Robert has numerous directorial credits, having worked as a director for the NSW Performing Arts Unit for six years. In 1999, Robert toured the United Kingdom with the NSW P.A.U. Drama Company. Robert has 15 years’ experience as a Drama Examiner for BOSTES NSW and is a qualified VET Entertainment Industry assessor. He brings to the school a wide-ranging knowledge and skill in production. Robert is currently the resident writer at the school, writing plays for various productions, including pantomime.


At The Art Umbrella, we value both process and performance. All of our programs integrate major projects that are showcased at our Mid-Year and End of Year Performance days, giving students the opportunity to perform in a professional environment with high-level production values: lighting, sound and staging elements. Added to this, there is the option of auditioning for our annual pantomime.


Keen to get in touch? We’d love to hear from you.