Australia’s Longest-Lasting Actor Training Program Has Been Renewed
Formerly known as the National Theater Drama School and resident of the heritage-listed National Theater St Kilda, the National Drama School was established in 1935 and continues to provide acting education for young actors, adults and aspiring professionals.
Dr. Jo Loth, director of drama at the National Drama School, sees the institution’s new naming convention as an important step towards raising awareness of the school’s position as one of the premier training institutions in actors in the country.
“We are known as the National, whether in reference to theatre, ballet school or acting school. We live together in a 102 year old building that we have lived in for nearly 50 years. The schools themselves date back to the 1930s when they were founded by Australian arts pioneer Gertrude Johnson OBE,” she says. ArtsHub.
“By removing the ‘theater’ from each title and creating separate ‘brands’ for each element, we are addressing a potential identity crisis and giving each pillar of The National Melbourne venue the opportunity to follow their own path” , adds Lot.
The school’s flagship offering is the three-year full-time acting degree. The National School of Dramatic Art also offers a range of regular acting skills courses for young people and adults aspiring to the stage, as well as an upcoming summer school holiday program on the main stage of the theater in January 2023.
Additionally, the school offers a special bridging program for future professionals, the immersive Foundation in Acting course, which runs over two eight-week terms starting in the second term of next year.
Industry Connections and Authentic Players
Having joined the National Drama School earlier this year, Loth says it’s “fantastic to be part of this organization that has this incredible history”. She has already begun making several changes to the roster offered at the National, while honoring her history.
“One of the things that’s really important to me is developing strong industry relationships, so that’s been at the forefront of my program,” says Loth.
“We recently established an exciting collaboration with CMC Talent Management, which offers industry conferences and masterclasses. Starting in 2023, they are sponsoring the Rising Star Scholarship, which covers the full tuition of a first-year Advanced Diploma in Acting student.
“The other thing, and this comes from my background, being a voice and movement specialist, is that I’m absolutely passionate about the Suzuki acting training method and the Linklater voice work. Those are my two areas of expertise,” she continues.
‘And so in first year [of the Diploma of Acting]students train intensely in both forms, resulting in truly strong, physically present and hardy actors – through the Suzuki acting training method – who are then able to connect to their authenticity, individuality and responding to the impulse through Linklater voice work, Loth says.
Support the next generation
Many students who come through the doors of the National School of Dramatic Art will take short courses or the upcoming summer school program, aspects of training that Loth is also committed to supporting.
“We offer classes for people aged five and over at The National, and the Young Actors Program has been a central part of the organization for many years.” I entered an incredibly strong youth training program – I was so impressed with what I saw,” she says.
The upcoming summer school program sees “children come in and work with design experts to intensively create a show on the theater’s main stage over five days.” It’s incredibly exciting,” Loth enthuses.
Along with his team, Loth is also focused on developing a stronger year-round school vacation program, with winter classes focusing on film and the spring program exploring physical theatre.
“We built on the strength of this existing summer vacation program and then made sure that throughout the year people could come back to experience different aspects of acting and continue to develop their skills. skills and to be challenged in new ways.”
The ways of industry
Elsewhere, older students will take on the challenges of the Foundation in Acting course, which Loth describes as “one of the existing programs that really impressed me coming into this work.”
She continues, “It gives people who are looking for that direct route in the industry a chance to really hone their skills for six months. We also offer a range of introductory courses for people who have never acted in theater and want a taste.
The National School of Dramatic Art will soon open its doors to a new cohort of first years undertaking the three-year acting diploma. What advice does Lot have for young actors who may be considering auditioning?
“We’re not necessarily looking for polished artists or people with a lot of experience. People can have a lot of experience, which is great, but we certainly don’t expect a finalized performance in our audition process. We are looking for that spark, that commitment, that passion for what you do. This is the most important thing.
Learn more about the range of courses offered at the National School of Dramatic Art.