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A place to belong at Jigsaw Stevenage

Performing Arts Manager

Creating an environment where children thrive is at the core of what we do at Jigsaw. We strive to deliver inspiring performing arts classes where children can unlock hidden talents by learning new skills, gaining confidence but most importantly making friends and having fun. And Jigsaw wouldn’t be the award-winning performing arts franchise that it is without the people behind the scenes who work tirelessly to bring the magic of Jigsaw to life every weekend.

This week we caught up with our newest franchisee Polly Sheppard, who has recently claimed the helm of Jigsaw Stevenage. Polly has extensive experience working in the performing arts, having taught across London and managed several schools for Jigsaw. With so much passion behind her, we wanted to find out what it was that drew Polly to the performing arts and what she hopes to inspire in her students through dance, singing and drama.

What originally sparked your interest in the Performing Arts?

My mum signed me up for a local theatre group at age 5, I was often performing my own plays in the living room and my mum thought it would be great to have somewhere that nurtured that in me. I took part in my first performance with them aged 5, The Snow Queen. I was a little devil (character, not in personality, though some may disagree!) and from then onwards I was hooked! I stayed with the same theatre company all the way through my childhood and at 12 started assisting the classes for the younger children. By 18 the performing arts was my life, every weekend was spent in classes, rehearsals or teaching my own classes. Over the years I have gone back to work for the company in various roles, but my true dream was to run my own performing arts groups.

What was it that drew you to Jigsaw and running your own school?

I first managed Jigsaw Stevenage in January 2016, and it was love at first sight. The children at Stevenage are so committed to Jigsaw, some of whom have been there almost all their entire life, just like me when I was growing up. I said back in 2016 if there was ever the chance to run Jigsaw Stevenage as my own franchise I would jump at it, so when that offer came I almost bit Nicola’s hand off!

Technique, Presentation or Show? Which is your favourite and why?

Such a difficult question! I love each of them for different reasons; we are on a Technique term at the moment and I love that it gives me time to really get to know all the students. Writing each child’s report gives me a chance to think about them as an individual and all the progress they have made during their time at Jigsaw. I love Presentation because the work the children create is often hidden away in the studio, this gives parents a chance to see how amazingly our students and teacher work together to create something fresh and exciting.

And finally, who doesn’t love a Show term. I love all those butterflies in the tummy leading up, making sure the costumes are right, safety pins at the ready and this year we even had a confetti cannon! To say I love a Show term is an understatement. So how can I even choose? They are all so different but amazing!

What are you hoping to inspire in your students?

Firstly, it’s friendship – my theatre group friends whom I grew up with have been my friends for life, bridesmaids at my wedding, we are babysitters to each other and celebrate our birthdays every year by going to watch a show. The bonds you can create just from spending a Saturday classes together can last a life time. When new students join us, I want to see them laughing and talking with all our wonderful students who are so welcoming. The Performance skills are of course a huge part of Jigsaw, but the line ‘a place to belong’, that’s what really inspires me.

Find out more about Jigsaw Stevenage here.

Find out more about franchise opportunities and register your interest here. 

Jigsaw Performing Arts is dedicated to developing performance skills, promoting self-expression and building confidence. We offer performing arts classes for children aged between 3 – 18. Find your nearest school by entering your postcode into the search on our home page