In conversation with… Miss Proops

In conversation with... Miss Proops
In this new series, we are shining the spotlight on some of the wonderful staff around our school! This week, we are focussing on Miss Proops, our Director of Drama.

In this new series, we are shining the spotlight on some of the wonderful staff around our school! This week, we are focussing on Miss Proops, our Director of Drama.

Why Drama?

I never intended to pursue Drama… my first love was art! I have neither a GCSE or A Level in the subject as KEHS did not offer drama when I was at school in the 90s. My plan was to pursue fine art but when I was 17 my friend encouraged me to try out for Senior Production, which I reluctantly did. I somehow managed to get one of the lead roles (Ado Annie in ‘Oklahoma’) and had the most amazing time. At the end of the production I was heartbroken and decided I couldn’t go through life without feeling that way again, but I was still totally torn between drama and art – I just couldn’t decide. In the end my wonderful drama and art teachers got together and decided the best thing for me was to study Set Design for theatre…the best of both worlds. I got into the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and had a ball… and haven’t looked back!

What sticks out as the highlight of your teaching career so far?

This is a tough one…there have been some wonderful memories over the years. Creating TuneUp over lockdown was really exciting. There was a week in 2020 when I was whatsapping with famous photographer Rankin and comedian Greg Davies, Prima Ballerina Dame Darcy Bussell and Hamilton’s musical director Alex Lacamoire. It was a bit of a pinch myself moment!

I will also never forget the school sleepover we had whilst making the Ghost Documentary film in 2021. In pyjamas at 3am, dancing to Whitney Houston in a pitch black school hall was very funny… and all in the name of ghost hunting.

This year’s Senior Production was also very special…. I can’t decide!

What did you do before you started teaching?

I specialised in costume design, prop making and puppetry at Drama School and spent the first few years of my career using those skills. I’ve had a number of interesting jobs which all sound a bit odd now!

I have been a TV puppeteer on shows such as ‘Words & Pictures’ and ‘Fab Lab’ and was Mitzy the Oven Glove on Playhouse Disney. I’ve made puppets for Saturday kids TV, numerous adverts and theatre productions. As a costume designer, I have worked with a number of bands on music videos and photo shoots as a stylist and art director.

After that I set up a fashion label and sold in 12 boutiques around the UK under my label ‘Jukes&Proops’. We even had a concession in Topshop!

My worst job though was as a Toy Demonstrator and Bear Stuffer in Hamleys… it was not as fun as it sounds.

But as unbelievable as it may be, teaching has been the most creatively fulfilling and worthwhile job I have ever had…and I suppose that is why I am still doing it today!

How has the school changed since you attended KEHS? Has anything stayed the same?

It has changed quite a lot. For a start you can now study Drama at GCSE and A Level as well as lots of other interesting subjects. I think KEHS has worked really hard over the last few years to diversify the curriculum and offer something for everyone.

Karaoke hasn’t changed… very proud to have won Karaoke for my class in 1994 and 1995. I can still rap both of the winning songs if anyone is interested?

What’s next for Drama at KEHS?

When I was made Director of Drama my aim was to establish it as a proper subject and not just an add-on at the end of the school day. I am so proud that we currently have over 100 students studying at GCSE and A Level and I think the perception of Drama has changed enormously and people now really understand the valuable skills it imparts.

I also want to build on our TuneUp success and ensure that it is not only privileged schools like ours who enjoy the arts and all that they can offer. We are developing an Arts Ambassador programme with Birmingham City University and investigating funding opportunities to ensure we can continue to build valuable partnerships with state-maintained schools nationwide, helping them engage in meaningful arts activities whilst also building relationships with local artists.

Lastly, it is time to start planning next year’s productions… watch this space.

What are your hobbies?

Anything arty! I love interior design and upcycling furniture. My favourite past time is either visiting junk shops and flea markets or skip-diving for treasures to mend and repaint and eventually rehome! I love sewing and drawing and have just discovered collaging – which is particularly satisfying.

I also enjoy styling bands and still try to keep my hand in. This Summer I was the artistic director for The Stranglers’ latest photoshoot (ask your Dad). Working with JJ Burnel was amazing, a living legend!

Favourite…

Book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (I must quote from this book almost weekly)

Film: Life is Beautiful’ by Roberto Benigni or ‘Lost in Translation’ by Sofia Coppola

Piece of theatre: ‘Lovesong’ by Frantic Assembly

More Posts

The KEHS Biodiversity Project

Last year, the Biology department launched the KEHS Biodiversity Project and appointed Amelia as the KEHS Biodiversity Ambassador. Her role is to promote and help

Search our site