June 21, 2023

Case Study: James Percy – Theatretrain Portsmouth 

We talked to Theatretrain Portsmouth franchisee James Percy. Here’s his experience starting his own performing arts company…

Theatretrain is a theatre training company dedicated to giving young people a safe space to grow in confidence and skill. Our young performers get to train with performing arts professionals, led by the industry wisdom of founder Kevin Dowsett and the rest of the creative team. 

With individual theatre companies nationwide, we thought you’d like to hear from one of our incredible Theatretrain franchisees. When you open your own Theatretrain company in your chosen locality, you get full creative control and the opportunity to give 3-18-year-olds a place of joy where they can learn to dance, act and sing. 

Here’s James Percy’s experience of opening Theatretrain Portsmouth…

Meet James Percy

James has always known he had a flair for performance, but as a child, he and his parents could not find the right place to nurture his enthusiasm. James followed his passion and became a professional actor, still holding on to that dream of having a space where young people could learn the performing arts.

Now, James is taking Theatretrain Portsmouth to new heights by providing a uniquely welcoming spot for children to experience what it’s like being part of a real theatre company. 

This is his story so far.

What Was The Catalyst For You To Start Your Own Theatretrain Company?

For a long time, I dreamed of opening a theatre school I would’ve wanted to attend as a child. From a young age, I always knew I wanted to experience the performing arts, but there never seemed to be a school or club that felt quite ‘right’ for me.

As an adult, I’ve been fortunate enough to build a career as a professional actor. I wanted to provide the children in my local area with the type of place I was looking for as a child and the feeling of belonging I got when I went to drama school, somewhere that offered elite performing arts training and took acting, dancing and singing as seriously as one another.

What Are The Values Behind Your Theatretrain Company?
I wanted to offer somewhere with a real family vibe, where everybody felt welcome, part of something special and where personalities were celebrated! I wanted to offer unique opportunities where children could get the real-world experience of being in a show and where it was treated as professionally as if it was a West End production.

So How Did You Get Started With Theatretrain?

Enter Theatretrain stage left. I was fortunate enough to be asked to teach a guest workshop for

Theatretrain, and in that time, I realised that the Theatretrain way of doing things was exactly how I’d always imagined things should be done. I’d considered opening somewhere on my own, but seeing that Theatretrain was achieving everything I would hope for sparked my interest.

Chatting with Treatretrain’s Artistic Director, Kevin Dowsett, doubled my interest. I realised that although Theatretrain was a big company, it wasn’t a ‘company’; it was a family. Kevin shared my passion, my love of theatre, my commitment to professionalism and a belief that ‘good enough’ wasn’t good enough.

What’s It Like Opening A Theatretrain Company?

I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to open my own Theatretrain in Portsmouth, but also nervous. It felt like a big undertaking, and whilst I knew I had the passion and desire, there were many ‘business-y’ things I had no idea about!

I needn’t have worried. Theatretrain guided me through the whole process of opening and supported me every step of the way. The training process was detailed and delivered in a way that wasn’t overwhelming, and, most importantly, I never felt like I was in it alone.

James Percy 1

How Is The Business Going Now?

Fast forward to 2 and a half years later, and I’m proud to say that Theatretrain Portsmouth is

everything I hoped it would be and more. The business has grown and keeps growing, and we’ve built our own Theatretrain family. 

I look forward to every Saturday morning, and I’m pleased to say it is exactly where I would’ve wanted to go as a child.

The Theatretrain Road (Or Should That Be Tracks!) Ahead

No matter the child’s experience or existing knowledge of the performing arts, James has ensured they have somewhere to pursue their artistic passions with the help of qualified and encouraging coaches. The atmosphere he has created at Theatretrain Portsmouth is filled with inspiration and fun. 

If you’ve thought about working full-time in the performing arts or have heaps of enthusiasm for dancing, acting and singing – you should consider joining Theatretrain as a franchisee. You’ll work in a collaborative and supportive environment, helping young people grow in every way. Learn more about becoming a franchisee here.

Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 4-18, specialises in weekly classes in acting, singing, and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage, and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing or could do with a little confidence boost why not visit to find out what our performing arts classes can offer your child at one of our 80 locations across the UK.

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