Former Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) student, Jamie Henville, has built on his experiences at PACA to start his own theatre company. Jamie recalls the school’s transition to PACA and questioning how the focus on entrepreneurial skills at the Academy was going to help him. He now says:

“As you go into later life, you call back on this and definitely the school’s focus on building and developing your entrepreneurial capabilities is something I relate back to frequently.”

After PACA 6th Form, Jamie went on to study in BA (hons) Drama and Performance at the University of Portsmouth. Whilst studying, Jamie and two of his peers sought additional practical experience in theatre and set up a company, Brightside Comedy, to write and create their own performances.

Jamie’s passion for his work and creativity was nurtured at PACA through its focus on developing the Aldridge Attributes. “As soon as Portslade became an Aldridge school there was this sense of identity within those core attributes. We didn’t have that before. The attribute that still stands out for me is Passion; for the work that you are doing and creating.”

Jamie’s passion saw Brightside signing up for the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His determination, another core Aldridge attribute, to find the right venue paid off when after many failed phone calls, he found himself pitching to a long-standing producer.

To raise funds for the Festival, Jamie and his colleague took advantage of an offer from a local engineering company to make on-hold call advertisements. The team also won the University of Portsmouth CCI Award, meaning they were granted £500 after pitching to the University about their Edinburgh project.

Brightside also raised money from ticket sales performing their debut show at The Portsmouth Guildhall. They built a good working relationship with the producer, and found themselves being offered the position of first Associate Artists at the Guildhall. This meant even more support for the young company, including not only the space to rehearse and perform, but guidance on marketing material or advice on any aspect.

Brightside do not take any of their support for granted and have set up their own partnership scheme to support other local artists and companies.

“We have had a lot of in kind support from other contacts, so we have set this partnership up to support talented individuals and companies that we can provide support for.”

To help subsidise Brightside’s growing ambitions for their performance work, entrepreneurial skills are being utilised again as the team set up a separate company, which will provide corporate performative solutions such as training videos or product videos; an idea grown from their existing part-time work with the local engineering company.

Reflecting on how his education at PACA has shaped his success, Jamie says: “We were given a platform to experiment and that’s vitally important, especially at that age. I didn’t know I could write, but having the freedom to create, particularly in GCSEs and PACA 6th Form, I found that I could and did enjoy writing. I can’t put the importance on that enough.”

Jamie appreciates his drama teacher investing time in the students as well as the studies. “He came in and he found us external opportunities. He is a good summary of what happened when Portslade became an Aldridge school; the opportunities were there as well as the teaching.”

Jamie is in discussions with former his teacher to return to PACA to deliver workshops to students. He says: “So there are still opportunities, well after I have left. There are always opportunities.”