Meryl was my drama teacher during and just after my GCSE years at school, and her classes really played an important part in my life. They helped me, as a shy teenager, come out of my shell and express myself through performing on stage, and increase my general confidence as a result. They also furthered my interest in the performing arts – which in turn helped lead me to pursue a career in filmmaking, albeit on the other side of the camera! In my present work as a cinematographer, which involves close interaction and collaboration with actors, I feel that the experience I had of Meryl’s drama classes and plays has helped me a great deal. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of drama with Meryl – above all it was always really fun. I have especially fond memories of hilarious improvisation sessions during the classes! The atmosphere was always really friendly, supportive and encouraging, and Meryl was sensitive to the needs of each pupil. I can’t recommend her drama classes enough!
ROBIN WHENERY, Cinematographer
Meryl Duff – The most talented, professional and inspiring drama teacher I have ever met.
Thanks to Meryl, I was given the confidence to believe in myself and audition for a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre – which I have now completed.
To have a teacher like Meryl, and of her high standard of teaching in Devon, is a privilege. Of my time in and around London, I am still yet to find somebody so dedicated, supportive and caring towards their students, like Meryl is.
In my first drama exam with Meryl, my Duologue partner and I both received 93% and the examiner said that we must have a very talented and inspiring teacher – I could not agree more!
Anybody who has the chance to be taught by Meryl is very lucky.
First class drama training in Devon – you’d be crazy to not give it a go!!!
LAURA WHITTET – PAST STUDENT Musical Theatre BA Hons.
Both Meryl and Rebekah are inspirational teachers. Their passion for the creative arts, drama, literature and the young people they teach is exemplary.
My daughter has been a member of the group and had individual lessons at Meryl’s Drama School for nearly 5 years. My daughter’s confidence has grown enormously during this time and I feel her drama is a valuable part of her week.
My daughter has performed in front of audiences small and large, learnt how to revise and present exciting scripts. My daughter particularly enjoys acting out differing characters and scenarios whilst developing a deeper understanding of the person she plays.
I view all these creative elements as being crucial in building life skills that can only enhance her life experience.
I cannot recommend Meryl or Rebekah enough; they are not only gifted teachers but inspiring mentors for your children as well.
KATE DAY – PARENT
Meryl has provided two of my children with life changing experiences through Drama. She has also mentored my daughter Si through auditions for Drama Schools and she is now, as a result, studying European Theatre at Rose Bruford College in London.
Meryl has always made learning lines and poetry accessible and fun – from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde; giving the students the confidence to perform in a range of venues ranging from the All England Festivals and in front of friends and family in a variety of local Theatres.
Meryl has an amazing ability to match a script with the child’s individual personality allowing the child to get the best out of the piece yet allowing them to stretch themselves without over reaching.
Meryl’s support goes far beyond an hour’s lesson, making herself available to them whenever necessary.
Both children have taken their experiences with Meryl not only into school productions but life itself.
JOANNA GARNER – PARENT
A little while ago I had some wacky ideas, a little spare time, a crowded house and an urge to make something, do something.
I chose to act.
Initially, because I thought I was alright. Then, due to encouragement. And finally, because I loved it.
To craft stories, to watch them grow and change and present themselves, finally, finished and blossoming. To pretend for a little while to be Hermia, Constance, a Merry Wife, Mrs Danvers, a bizarre bomb expert. To suspend an audiences’ disbelief just about long enough to understand, to clap, to laugh and to cry.
To effect a change in you and the people around you.
To enjoy it.
I enjoyed every minute in class with Meryl Duff. Because she loved it as I did and we strove together. We had a tonne of fun!
The best part of a decade on and I attend one of the finest performance institutions in the U.K and I create and perform those wacky ideas.
None of it would be possible without Meryl.
SOPHIE GARNER – PAST STUDENT CURRENTLY STUDYING AT ROSE BRUFORD
Over the years I have had seven of my children come under the tutelage of Meryl (or Mezza as the children affectionately know her). They have, without exception, come out as better all round people for the experience. Not only have they learned the rudimentary and more complex requirements of the theatrical world, they have also learned to love a variety of styles of performances and acting, confidence none of them originally possessed, the ability to work well in groups, commitment and deep rooted friendship.
They have moved out into the world with these skills and have, ultimately, succeeded. My youngest two are still learning from Meryl and I hope they continue to do so as long as is feasibly possible. My fifteen year old has been in several productions, including a most enjoyable experience with the All England Drama Festival where they had great success. She has also taken her first Vanguard Acting exam and sailed through with Honours.
My youngest has Downs’ Syndrome and has also just done her first exam…. in Poetry, where she achieved a high Merit, 82%. Throughout she was treated with the same level of respect as all my children and Meryl employed innovative teaching techniques in order to get the best outcome possible.
Meryl is so much more than a drama teacher. She is a friend, a guide and a mentor. As I have always said – wherever your children want to go and whatever they want to do… learn the right way – and Meryl is most certainly the right way.
SARAH POTTER – PARENT OF PAST AND CURRENT STUDENTS
Meryl is a natural teacher, offering a safe place to explore the art of acting. Her warm and nurturing style enables a student to grow and learn.
She also offers a tremendous sense of fun which is always a good thing.
LIA TUCKER – PAST ADULT STUDENT
Meryl is such a fantastic inspiration! The new Drama School premises sound absolutely amazing, and any person who comes will surely find it such a magical, delightful and inspirational place to go to. Very exciting stuff!
I’ve got such lovely memories of Meryl, all the great skills she taught me and what a great emotional support she gave to me over the years. She gave so much to me and to so many others, not just with acting and learning but also so much wisdom, kindness and care. The drama room became as such a comforting, happy place of solace and escapism for me. I’m so pleased that other children/young people are having a chance to have ‘the Meryl experience’ too, and that she is continuing to do what she loves!
I admire Meryl so much for her strength and determination to do something so positive and enriching.
FROM MEGGIE MILES – PAST STUDENT
Our daughter’s passion (yes passion!) for Shakespeare is single-handedly due to Meryl…Meryl’s love, knowledge and ability to communicate the great plays and sonnets is truly a gift for our young people.
My daughter loves her and we frequently discuss the qualities of this wonderful teacher. She works with such commitment and dedication. So grateful we found her.
DI GAMMAGE – PARENT
Drama with Meryl brought about a pivotal change in how my daughter approached reading and writing. Every Parents Evening was the same ….. “Your daughter needs to read more books, this will improve her spelling and writing.” “She doesn’t like books, or reading. I can’t MAKE her read a book!” I explained to the teachers EVERY parents evening. “Oh well, you haven’t found the right book yet, keep trying. See you at the next parents evening.”
After years of frustration, and endless searching for ‘THAT’ book that would apparently hold the key to turning my daughters entire literary education around, I didn’t find a book at all; I found Meryl!
The Drama School breathed life into stories, gave expression to words on a page and completely fired my daughter’s imagination. Meryl’s inclusive, challenging, thought provoking, liberal yet disciplined approach to teaching unlocked the door to a whole new level of understanding and interpretation of books, writing and creating stories.
My daughter, who had struggled with literacy at school for years, was now sitting at home WRITING twenty page stories in her spare time, reading books with an insatiable appetite and asking me “Is it drama today?” at least three times a week!
Choosing drama as a fun, social after school activity, little did anyone know what a huge effect it would have on the rest of our daughter’s life.
As my husband said when he collected our daughter from drama one evening and took a peek at the class …… “She’s bl**dy fantastic that Meryl isn’t she!” “Yes. Yes she is.” I replied.
CAROLINE LEWIS – PARENT
Meryl was my drama teacher for both LAMDA exams and for Festival plays. For both she was an amazing teacher/director, always working to make any play a success and pushing us to achieving our best in exams.
Taking part in these plays and exams really fuelled my love for theatre, increased my self confidence and was always great fun.
CHRIS WARNETT – PAST STUDENT
I rang Meryl a few years ago when my 9 year old was struggling with his new school and needed a bit of fun in his life! Meryl gets kids better than any of the great practitioners that my son has worked with before. She has brought him out of himself and provided a safe space for him to develop his speaking, listening and acting skills.
Most importantly, he has worked well as part of a team to create and improvise using their imaginations. He has also been consistently supported and motivated to learn his lines and develop his confidence. We can’t thank you enough Meryl!
JULES FLOREY – PARENT
‘One Friday night, sometime in the midst of winter, I walked into my first ever drama lesson with the legend that is Meryl Duff. I was a slightly chubby, unconfident boy with a funny French name, with floods of tears streaming down his face due to the fact I was talking to people that I’d never met before; something this seven year old didn’t do very often. That night, we participated in a plethora of games and activities, before moving on to a game most commonly known as freeze frame; I was in my element stood up on that small black stage as someone else, doing something I still try to do in 2014. Make people laugh.
Now aged fifteen, I spend at least three hours a week with Meryl – or as she’s more commonly known ‘Mezza’ – acting. I have now achieved two Vanguard examinations in one of which I achieved an Honours where I got a mark of 94/100. All I can say is, it must have been the teaching.
I have worked my way up through the ranks of ‘The Drama School’, now working with the Advanced group working on a play for a drama festival. Last year, we managed to progress to the second stage of the Festival in Cornwall with our play ‘Let Him Have It’ based on the miscarriage of justice between Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig, with myself playing the latter.
I cannot think of a better way to have spent my childhood and now early adult life than doing what I love with an absolute gem of a human being – Mezza.’
FLORIAN SATURLEY – ADVANCED STUDENT
During the 8 years Meryl has taught me, I’ve got 3 Vanguard qualifications, one of which was Shakespeare orientated. I passed two with honours 93 & 94/100, and my first one with distinction of 87/100.
Meryl also recently led us to the semi finals of the All England Drama Festival, and won Best Director, as well as all of us winning Best Youth production twice!
Meryl is undoubtedly the best director I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and has taught me the skills needed which are currently helping me achieve an A* in drama. She is the best and most supportive teacher and director I know, and never gives up on you, no matter how difficult you may be to work with!
Mezza helped me find the passion I have for drama, so much so that I am considering a career in acting or generally in a theatre. Not only is she my teacher, she’s also one of my best friends, and it is far too easy to have a good laugh with her over a cup of tea and biscuits.
She never stops, and is a complete superwoman who devotes her life to us so that we get such amazing opportunities. Meryl is an amazing and caring person, and I have enjoyed my journey with her so far. I have made lifelong friends from attending The Drama School, and many experiences and memories from my time there. Jolly good work Mezza!
ALICE CROUCH – ADVANCED STUDENT
“My daughter attended Meryl’s Drama school for several years, both groups and for individual tuition. She received the very best tuition, care and support which really nurtured and inspired her love of drama.
Meryl’s commitment, love and enthusiasm for drama is truly inspiring only matched for her love, commitment and enthusiasm for her students. Meryl takes a personal interest in her students and it is this personal touch which helps her students to develop their potential.
What sets Meryl’s drama school apart is Meryl’s experience, her knowledge of her subject, her passion and her insight and wisdom of life and the human condition, something every good actor/actress must develop, my daughter recognised this in Meryl’s tuition and has benefited from it hugely.
As well as doing very well in her drama exams including GCSE drama, my daughter is now continuing studying Drama at A level.”
FROM JOANNA MORRISS – PARENT
Rohan says “Meryl is the best drama teacher I have ever had”
Rohan’s mum, Chandra says
“Meryl is more than a drama teacher. Rohan was not confident at speaking to an audience, reading with fluency, spelling, vocabulary, memorising poems, expressing himself and his feelings. He gained all these skills with Meryl.
She accepted him and provided a safe environment to learn and grow in confidence, always leaving his drama lesson feeling good about himself. I am amazed at his memory for learning lines, and now he loves reading.
I cannot express enough how grateful I am that Rohan has found Meryl as his drama teacher.”
CHANDRA AND ROHAN VEASY – PARENT & STUDENT
Before I began going to the Drama School I had never even thought about doing anything to do with acting and now three years after I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t started.
On the first group day I remember meeting a huge mix of characters and thinking how it would be almost impossible not to fit in. Now I spend three hours at least with Mezza and I almost forget what I’m there for and just have fun and laugh with my friends.
I didn’t realise how much I had actually learnt until I started drama lessons at secondary school and realised how much more I knew compared to all the other kids in my class.
I now really enjoy the thrill of being on stage and I’m excitedly working towards our next performance and looking forward to the buzz of performance night.
ALICE JONES – INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED STUDENT
My sons have studied drama for some time & benefitted from the expert tuition & inspired wisdom of Meryl & her team of staff at the drama school.
The skills they have developed give them the confidence & self assurance required to achieve success in whatever they decide to do.
I would certainly recommend any of the courses offered.
LISA HOCKING BA Hons PGCE – PARENT
I really enjoy going to my drama classes my teacher is very nice. If anyone does anything wrong she is kind about it and explains it carefully.
I like doing exams it makes me feel very proud and Meryl, my teacher encourages everyone and is always there to help. Loulee Jones xxxx
LOULEE JONES – INTERMEDIATE STUDENT
Both my daughters have been attending the Drama School for several years now. It was the best decision to send them both. They have blossomed into confident young ladies.
The Drama School has given them the ability to voice their own opinions at school without fear. They have taken up new challenges and have really developed a good sense of self belief.
Drama has not only made them more aware of themselves but has opened their eyes to other people’s situations and feelings in a way that no other group could do.
The sense of achievement when they pass their drama exams is second to none. They put in the hard work and the results are immediate. Thank you Meryl for all the hard work you put in.
KURSTY JONES PARENT
As a parent I appreciate the depth that Meryl brings to her work as a drama teacher for my daughter. Her background, love and commitment to drama comes through everything that she does. It’s not just that she writes her own scripts for plays that the young people can perform, and gives them great lessons, which includes infusing them with her love of Shakespeare which we appreciate. But it is her commitment to seeing each student achieve their potential that marks her out as a special teacher and for that as well as everything else we strongly recommend her.
SUE MILNER – PARENT
How can I begin to express just how amazing my experience has been with The Drama School? Not only has it given me confidence, it has given me many memories that I will cherish.
When I first started drama with Meryl I wasn’t too keen at the whole idea of making a fool out of myself on stage (or in an exam for that matter), then it crossed my mind ‘How hard can acting be?’. The answer is extremely…. I had no idea that you had to take so many ‘things’ into account in how to show your character, emotion, society…the list goes on.
So far I have taken numerous Vanguard examinations which also included a Shakespeare exam, who I never thought I would grow to love. My partner and I both got 96%! Sure, learning all the facts about sonnets and different types of stages might not be your cup of tea, but being able to perform a sonnet, which I couldn’t forget if I tried, and an amazing scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays does feel good (and proves to be a good party trick).
Because of all the effort that gets put in to running a performance I am now thinking about the possibility of Costume and Stage Set as a future career choice. This obviously wouldn’t have crossed my mind if I had never done drama with Meryl and how she has had to put up with me for the past few years! I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment, including that scared feeling before performing, and am correct in thinking that this is a feeling shared with all pupils at The Drama School!
Emily Whittet, Advanced Student