THERE is a breathing space for students in Taunton where they can grow in stature and confidence.

The SPACE in question is the Theatre Training for 16-19 year olds, which opened in 2009.

One of its foundation stones is course director David Duthie who has been at The SPACE since it opened on day one.

David arrived in June 2009 and spent six weeks writing the course for students to come through the doors in September 2009.

Before arriving in Taunton, David was head of a performing arts school in Shropshire where he taught secondary school pupils and in his spare time and evenings he would direct plays.

By getting the job at The SPACE it allowed him to combine his joy of teaching and directing but doing it on a day to day basis, working with students to improve their confidence along with their acting and dancing ability.

As part of his job, David like to immerse himself in different aspects of theatre by attending as many shows as he can to see what styles are being developed and what ideas can be used at The SPACE.

One of the important aspects of The SPACE is to treat students like professional actors and actress, this is a way of instilling in them a professional attitude and giving them a self belief.

David said: “It can be very empowering for the students and allow them to raise their level of confidence.

“It allows them to step out of their comfort zones, it makes a big difference to their lives.

“I remember one young man who was seen as being quiet but he enjoyed acting and being on stage which gave him a lot of confidence.

“I called up a bathroom sales department and had a long conversation with the salesperson and it was not until the end when he sent me an email I realised this professional, business conversation had been with a former pupil I had not heard of in years but was now very confident in interacting with people.”

To quote the SPACE’S website it states: “The students enrolling at The SPACE gain a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts which is equivalent to 3 A-Levels enabling them to continue their education at University, Dance or Drama School, or access an apprenticeship and go directly into employment.

“At The SPACE, individual creativity, skill and talent will be harnessed and developed through exciting real–life projects where students are facilitated by a dedicated top class staff team solely focused on the post-16 students.

“The SPACE, sited next to Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, is a visionary 21st Century complex equipped to the highest specification, including an 80 seat theatre, high-tech drama and dance studios and an Apple-Mac design suite.”

David has nearly 10 years experience of teaching and directing the young people at The SPACE but what does he think he has learnt about himself doing this role?

He said: “I would like to think no one would feel alone.

“That is why the team at The SPACE is so important to work with and bounce ideas off and for me to offer my leadership. “What I have also learnt is leading by example and making people feel they are a collaborator on a project which added to the overall artistic vision.”

This clear vision has helped The SPACE to build a reputation which has grown since 2009 and continues to grow today.

David said having a good reputation had been beneficial but it also came with added pressure is having to live up to this reputation.

But thanks to their reputation it had allowed them to build a strong partnership between schools and colleges and amateur groups.

One of the ways it has grown its reputation is by the shows it puts on.

Recently these have included One Man Two Guvnors, Spamalot, Legally Blonde:The Musical and Macbeth.

And plans are taking shape to do a production of either Sister Act or Chicago as this year as The SPACE has a larger than normal amount of female students.

And this neatly brings us back to why David wanted to direct and take on this job.

He said: “Two things really, the ability to allow young people to fulfill their potential and take then on a journey allowing them to get a qualification in acting or dance.

“We all get immense pride in seeing the young people reach their potential through professional shows which have high production values and a diverse programme.”

Further details about The SPACE online at