This Saturday, Australia's leading dramatic arts institute opens its doors for a day of drop-in classes, tours, talks and activities, with appearances from Lisa Gormley (Home & Away) and Andrea Demetriades (Crownies, Pygmalion). NIDA's heads of department will also talk through the institute's undergrad and postgrad courses.
In 2011, we spoke to three successful NIDA grads about their experience at the instution: directors Kate Revz, Sarah Giles and Imara Savage.
Kate Revz: The good thing about NIDA is the people you meet through it. You don’t get doors opened but you get the address of the door. And you can go to that door and knock on it and say hey, I’m at NIDA right now and I met you in some foyer or some seminar.
Sarah Giles: I’m so tempted to take that door analogy and turn it into a really bad series of jokes.
Imara Savage: For me, to be honest, NIDA was extraordinary. I just remember being in the library one day and I just looked around and thought, oh my God, I want to read every book in this library. It was a total epiphany. I spent five years at uni doing a degree I wasn’t particularly excited by. It was eight hours a week and I’d come from a performing arts school and I just wanted to be immersed in something and NIDA provided that absolute immersion.
Sarah: It’s the opportunity to take a year out in a way. You can just focus on one thing wholeheartedly. If you’ve got youth allowance or government support you don’t have to work part-time jobs – you can just focus.
The hardest thing about finishing NIDA is trying to balance three waitressing jobs – or ‘wastressing jobs’, as I like to call them (not that it’s not a valid job) – and trying to do a co-op at the same time.
Imara: It’s very true. NIDA is a luxury in a way. To just be able to read plays, read books, see theatre, watch films, talk to people about art and be in a place where things are being made every second… It’s a total luxury.
Kate: And you get unabashed feedback constantly, which is something that sort of stops – apart from reviews – after you graduate. People are either frightened or just don’t want to hurt your feelings. But at NIDA you get that straight-down-the-line feedback.
Sarah: That’s something I learnt at NIDA: the value of a candid conversation with someone with a constructive, wise critical eye, who you respect and whose work you respect. You’re just going to learn stacks by having those kind of conversations.