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Experience the Stage

We are an award-winning, cutting-edge theatre academy aiming to break down barriers and increase diversity in youth theatre through affordable access to exceptional training. We offer weekly classes, holiday projects, LAMDA classes, productions and Schools and Youth Club workshops, in Surbiton and Esher for 4-18-year olds.


We believe that every young person learns differently and therefore ensure every workshop or project is specially designed to allow every single individual young person to flourish, whilst having bags of fun!

Our weekly workshops take place in 4 locations, with classes running in Surbiton at Hook Church, Christ Church and Lime Tree Primary. Our Esher classes run at Esher Theatre!

Our Story

South Side Theatre Academy was launched in May 2018 by our Artistic Director, Toby Ward-Smith. Following numerous years of experience of teaching in his local youth theatres and attending them himself as a teenager, Toby felt there was a real lack of accessible, inclusive youth theatres around, and therefore launched South Side with aim of offering exceptional theatrical training, but making it fully accessible to every young person. 

In July 2018, we ran our first Summer Holiday Project, as we put on 'The Wizard of Oz' in the space of 5 amazing days. Our Weekly Theatre Academy launched at Hook Church the following September. Our first class was a Juniors class with just 6 students. The following year we launched our Minis and Seniors classes and took to the cornerHOUSE stage for the first time in Bugsy Malone, with 16 incredible young actors.


Come 2020, we launched our first ever completely free holiday project 'Play in a Day' in April, but just a month before we were set to welcome over 70 local children, we went into lockdown. With the closure of classes we were determined to ensure young people still didn't miss out on being creative throughout lockdown. We launched our creative challenges and ran our virtual classes completely free from April to July, before returning in August 2020 with a series of West End Workshops with West End stars such as leading man Charlie Stemp, Hamilton Dance Captain, Alexzandra Sarmiento and current West End Rizo in Grease, Jocasta Almgill!

Coming back from lockdown our classes went from strength to strength with us launching new Saturday classes musicals such as Matilda, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sister Act and Legally Blonde, and brought plays to the stage such as James & the Giant Peach, Brainstorm, Girls Like That and It Snows! We now produce 5 holiday projects a year across 5 of the 6 school holidays, including one 'Pay What You Can' project a year!

In May 2023 we celebrated our 5 year anniversary with a spectacular Gala at Esher Theatre featuring a 156 students performing a range of musical theatre songs from past shows and hopefully future shows too!

In 2018, a 19 year old boy had a dream to bring inclusive theatre to the young people of Surbiton. To create a sanctuary, a place where young people could leave the stresses of their days behind and join us each week and express themselves. 

5 years ago, when we started this journey we had absolutely no idea where it may take us. But what an incredible journey it has been and we cannot wait to see what else is to come!

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