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Interview with Sonya Cuddy – "Follow that dream wherever that dream may lead"

Griffith College and Leinster School of Music and Drama (LSMD) alumna, Sonya Cuddy, has just launched her new speech and elocution lessons in County Offaly. But that’s not all that she’s been up to. Read on to hear all about her ventures and plans for the future.

What is Speak Out Drama Lessons?

Speak out Drama Lessons, launched on September 27th, 2017 and based in Mucklagh, County Offaly, will provide speech, drama and elocution lessons to children from the age of four to 12. The first term will focus on voice and projection. With the help of process drama strategies and tongue twisters, the children will develop their own voice, whilst learning the importance of speech. The second term will focus more on speech and drama exams through the LSMD. There has been a lot of local interest; in fact, both classes are booked out!

What is Sonya’s inspiration behind Speak Out Drama Lessons?

Sonya has studied speech and drama for 18 years, which culminated this year in receiving her Certificate in Drama Education (QQI 40 credits) and a Licentiate Diploma with the LSMD.   Since she can remember, she has always wanted to be a speech and drama teacher.

How is Sonya using her studies to also help adults with intellectual disabilities?

When Sonya’s grandmother and grandfather became ill seven years ago, Sonya took a hiatus from her drama, speech and dance interests to take care of her grandparents.  After her grandmother's passing, Sonya went back to train as a Healthcare Assistant.  This blip in her CV actually evolved into a passion to merge her healthcare training and her speech and drama experience to develop a drama programme for adults with intellectual disabilities. Sonya is now three years into her role as a healthcare assistant, and is looking into how she can help the Midlands area provide a drama programme for the intellectual disability sector to help improve their skills, such as confidence building and communication. She’s also looking into finding a resource building where these adults can socialize with likeminded people. 

What is the Kilcormac Theatre Group?

Sonya has just created the Kilcormac Theatre Group, which is a musical society that plans to organise a Christmas concert this year. They are a community-based group split into two cohorts: children aged 5-12 years and teens/adults. The group is providing singing, dancing and acting classes every Friday until Christmas, culminating in a concert at Christmas. Next year the Kilcormac’s Theatre Group’s goal is to produce a Pantomime and the year after, if the Group has managed to raise the funds it needs, it will organize a full musical. The Kilcomac Theatre Group is open to the entire community, young and old.

What is Sonya’s connection to the Leinster School of Music and Drama?

Sonya started studying with LSMD when she was nine and did all of her grades there. In 2012 she received a Certificate grade in Speech and Drama. At 16 she decided she wanted to focus on her dancing as well, so she moved to Dublin and trained with Streets Ahead and Fit Kids 15s. With her LSMD certificate and dance courses in her pocket, Sonya returned home and opened a dance studio. Unfortunately the recession followed close behind, so she decided to train as a healthcare assistant.

But her passion for speech and drama kept her moving towards further qualifications, which is why she returned to LSMD to get her Certificate in Drama Education (equivalent to Licentiate) earlier this year.

What else is Sonya up to in her free time? 

When not working as a care assistant or teaching speech and drama classes, Sonya is also directing two plays in Tullamore with the Tullamore Amateur Dramatic Society: Babysitting Calvin by John M Newmeyer and What’s for Pudding by David Tristham. The shows will be playing from October 23rd-25th.

How did Sonya’s studies with LSMD help her professionally?

LSMD has given Sonya the confidence to go out on her own. When she was talking to her former teacher in elocution, Mary Whelan Fox in Athlone, her teacher said to “have confidence in yourself and you’ll be fine. Live your dream.”

What are Sonya’s longer-term goals?

There’s a space in the Laois shopping centre that she would love to lease and use as a crèche during the day and then a drama/dance facility in afternoon/evening. The space could be used by the Portlaoise musical society, as well as other music, drama and dance teachers.

What advice does Sonya have for people who want to start their own business in acting/drama? 

Sonya gives some sound advice: “Get your qualifications and go for it! If you never try you’ll always wonder why.”

Well done to Sonya for reaching for her dreams!

How can you find Sonya?

To get in touch with Sonya, find Speak Out Drama on Facebook or call her at 085 8257339.


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