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Professor Peter Barlow FRSA

A message from our Executive Director
Professor Peter Barlow FRSA

Executive Director

Welcome to Sharjah Performing Arts Academy (SPAA).

In this academic year we are celebrating 50 years of the UAE. A golden jubilee that is symbolic of unity, tolerance, and diversity. Leaders coming together in the face of adversity to inspire and build a future that others dared only hope for. These were the changemakers; the trail blazers.

Fifty years on we are building on the foundations of UAE’s forefathers; inspiring the changemakers and trailblazers of the future.

You are at the beginning of the journey of the rest of your life.

With industry professionals and global connections training, supporting, guiding and challenging your artistic journey, at SPAA we will help transform you into the very best international performing or production artist that you can be.

Our Academy has had the privilege of hosting some of the very best performers and creatives from around the globe.

From tech rehearsals for award-winning musicians to masterclasses with international professional dance companies. The great attraction for hosting at SPAA is the opportunity for industry professionals to be a significant and meaningful part of our student learning experience and graduate journey. The performing and productions arts industries are competitive ones. At SPAA we like competition and our ambition is to make our Academy one of the best in the world, and if we are the best, then our graduates will be the best too.

With the foresight of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Academy President, SPAA is the only dedicated performing arts academy in the Middle East. It is my mission to ensure the generosity and vision of HH, to provide students with a safe environment to study, practice and take part in developing professional performing and production arts in the region is fully and successfully realised.

SPAA informs, challenges, educates, questions, discovers and celebrates diversity; where everyone strives for excellence and the best means of storytelling by embracing all cultures, abilities and styles.

Our student body has grown exponentially over the past three years, as has our Faculty and Administration teams. Collectively we now originate from 34 countries around the world.

This global knowledge, experience and tolerance ensures our students graduate with a competitive edge in an international market.

If you have the dedication, fortitude, strength and discipline to excel at being a creative leader and changemaker of the future, then your future starts here… today.

We wish you all the best on your journey. If you decide to join us, we’ll be with you every step of the way.


About Peter

Professor Peter Barlow FRSA, has been teaching and training actors, performers, and theatre technicians for more than 30 years, and is a Fellow of The Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA).

A graduate of Rose Bruford, College of Speech and Drama, Mr Barlow has been responsible for representing and leading the top drama schools in the UK.

His current adventure oversees the colossal endeavour of Sharjah Performing Arts Academy as the Executive Director.

Professor Barlow’s career highlights include:

  • Director and Chief Executive: Guildford School of Acting
  • Vice Principal: Laine Theatre Arts
  • Professional Judge: Olivier Awards 2011 and 2013
  • Visiting Senior Fellow: Guildford School of Acting
  • Senior Fellow: University of Surrey School of Arts
  • Fellow: Royal Society of Arts
  • Chairman: Conference of Drama Schools
  • Director: National Council for Drama Training (NCDT)
  • External Examiner: London Southbank University and Trinity Laban (City University)
  • Chairman: Board of Examiners (University of Surrey)
  • Professional Member: UK Theatre
  • Member: Royal Television Society
  • Chairman: Hampshire Arts Centres Association
  • Director: Connections Media Ltd.
  • Director: Common Stock Theatre Company Ltd.
  • Director: Hornpipe Theatre Company Ltd.
  • Attached Course Monitor (NCDT): Academy of Live and Recorded Arts
  • Attached Course Monitor (NCDT): Rose Bruford College


  • Visiting Professor University of South Florida, Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Visiting Professor University of La Verne, California
  • Visiting Acting Expert, Bernstein School of Musical Theatre Bologna Italy
  • Visiting Acting and Musical Theatre Expert, Baardar Academy Oslo Norway
  • Acting Tutor, Italia Conti Academy London
  • Associate Director, Masterclass, Theatre Royal Haymarket, London


  • Securing World Class Training for a World Class Performing Arts Industry. Government Lobbying paper on behalf of Conference of Drama Schools and National Council for Drama Training
  • Globalization of Theatre; what effect does international theatre have on local theatre? Presentation for annual conference of Korean Theatre Studies Association
  • “The Ingredients for Successful Actor Training.” Presentation for 5th International Theatre Olympics Seoul 2010
  • The Global influence of Western Musical Theatre. Presentation for international Conference of Chinese Musical Theatre, Beijing 2010


Mr Barlow’s students include:

  • Mike Jibson – Olivier Award winner (King George in Hamilton)
  • Kobna Holdbrrok Smith – Olivier Award winner
  • T’nia Miller – actress
  • Rania Kurdi – actress, singer, writer, Star of Jordanian television (The Rania Show)
  • Rachid Sbitri – actor, Homeland and many other TV and film series worldwide
  • Sasha Rosen – singer, songwriter
  • Karen David – actress, Once Upon a Time, Galavant, Fear the Walking Dead
  • Chris Geere – actor, Waterloo Road, You’re The Worst FXX, A Million Little Things
  • Jade Anouka – actress, Trauma, Doctor Who and many other TV roles
  • Chris Key – international Stage Director for Cameron Mackintosh
  • Sasha Roiz – film and TV actor, The Day After Tomorrow, Grimm, Suits and many more
  • Shimi Goodman – actor and singer
  • Paola Bontempi – Award winning actress and TV host, Six Wives
  • Charlotte Braenna – award winning musical theatre actress
  • Omar Ibrahim – comedian
  • Juli Ana – singer/actress
  • Janine Johnson – Singer
  • Luke Kempner – comedian, impressionist, actor and singer
  • Danielle Meleani – Broadway actress
  • Stephen Carlile – actor, The Lion King Musical
  • Taj Atwal – actress, Stella and In The Club
  • Ameer Choudrie – film actor
  • Lauren Samuels – singer and actress, Over the Rainbow and Grease (West End Theatre)
Professor Peter Barlow