Student Directors Showcase Talent at UQ Theatre Festival

It’s no secret there are few industries more competitive than acting. The obvious pathway is through doing it, and herein lays a catch 22. In readying the next generation of actors, stage managers, producers and directors for the practical rigors of thespian life, UQ’s School of Communication and Arts is taking a hands-on approach.

At the University of Queensland, practical experience is integrated into the drama program as part of a compulsory course. Third-year students are graded on their ability to direct and stage a short play of their choice, featuring first-year students as actors.

The culmination of this semester’s integrated drama program is the Vanguard Theatre Festival, which will showcase every student’s final production over three evenings at the Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio on UQ’s St. Lucia campus from the 24th to the 26th of October.

For Hannah Kassulke, one of the festival’s student directors, her work-integrated learning experience has not only kick-started her professional portfolio, but has also given her and her fellow students an invaluable confidence boost as graduation approaches.

“All the stuff we’ve been learning this semester, all the dramaturgy and the directing, it’s all so applicable to the industry … to be able to walk into the rehearsal room and actually discuss [the play] with my actors, to collaborate and bring it to life, it’s been really cool,” Ms Kassulke said.Pic 2 (resized)

“And it’s a confidence booster as well, because it’s like ‘Hey, I can actually do this’ which is really comforting as you head out into the big bad world.”

Dr Bernadette Cochrane, a lecturer in drama at UQ and the brains behind this initiative, views the festival as integral in developing students into well-rounded industry professionals.

“Vanguard is the culmination of the theoretical and practical learning that is embedded across the courses of the program,” Dr Cochrane said.

“The festival enables the students to embody the range of skills and concepts learnt throughout the three to four years of their under-graduate degree,” she said.

“The Vanguard Theatre Festival is the point where our directors shift from being our students and transition towards becoming our colleagues and our collaborators.”

“Our students are the people who will be leading Australian theatre-making and theatre-teaching in the future.”

For Libby Elliott Haynes, a festival student director, the opportunity represents not only all-important industry experience, but also the chance to begin establishing a professional network.

“I think, knowing the acting industry, a lot of the ways people get by is just doing their own shows,” Ms Elliott Haynes said.

“You have to create the work for yourself, especially in the early stages, so knowing how to direct a show if I need to give myself a project, or give someone else a project, is so useful,” she said.

“[So much of] the entertainment industry is just who you know, just networking, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to do that too.”Pic 1 (resized again)

The Vanguard Theatre Festival will run from Wednesday to Friday, 24-26 October 2018 in the Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio, with each show starting at 7.30pm. To purchase tickets visit poster final google link