NIDA launches 2024 Student Production Season

NIDA today announced its 2024 Student Production season which will showcase the incredible talents and range of the next generation of Australian performers and creatives.

Performed across five NIDA stages at its Kensington campus in June and October, these eight productions offer an eclectic mix of local and international works, led by celebrated Australian and international industry professionals and performed by NIDA’s third year Acting cohort.

In June, Award-winning NIDA alumnus Mark Bolotin with Shiyan Zheng (Terminus, Monkey Man, The Servant) and Michele Gould (Passing, 107) present a special commissioned work in a co-production with the National Theatre of Parramatta. Anthea Williams (Belvoir/MTC) helms a cross-species love story from the author of Babyteeth; a Tony Award-winning musical is led by the accomplished international director Darren Yap, with West End’s musical director Andrew Bevis and choreography by Kelley Abbey; and NIDA’s Head of Directing Dr Benjamin Schostakowski adapts a gothic classic.

In October, Eva Grace Mullaley, a Widi woman (Yamatji Nation, WA) and former Artistic Director of Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company heads an Australian exploration of an award-winning US work. The ongoing partnership with The Sydney Conservatorium of Music continues with four original operas directed by the incomparable Lindy Hume. Renowned American director Timothy Douglas makes his Australian debut with a powerful play by African American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins; and a post Me Too reframing of the greatest play written about teenagers will round out the season.

Creating immersive worlds on stage and behind the scenes are students from Design, Props and Effects, Costume, Hair and Makeup, Set Construction Technologies and Technical Theatre and Stage Management.

NIDA CEO, Liz Hughes:

The production seasons provide intensive practice-based and collaborative learning opportunities for students from a range of disciplines, ensuring they are industry-ready when they leave NIDA. Students learn alongside industry experts, putting their skills into practice to create works that meet high professional standards, gaining confidence as courageous creatives. We look forward to welcoming everyone in June and October and are excited to share the next generation of Australian storytellers as they present these new productions at NIDA.

NIDA’s Artistic Director in Residence, David Berthold :

‘These two seasons have been curated to provide these supremely gifted students with experiences that will stretch every creative muscle as they launch into the profession. Each work is innovative in its own way – several are brand new – and all are helmed by top professional artists in demand around the world. As the national drama school, it’s essential that NIDA provides this kind of rich opportunity.

June Productions:
Alice: Mother of Cinema
By Mark Bolotin, Shiyan Zheng and Michele Gould
Directed by Mark Bolotin

Alice Guy-Blaché was the mother of cinema. She was the first person to make a narrative film, and one of the first to use synchronised sound, close-ups, colour and so much more. For 10 years she was the only female filmmaker in the world, creating almost 1000 films and running her own film studio. Yet her ground-breaking role has been forgotten or systematically erased.

This specially commissioned new work by Mark Bolotin, Shiyan Zheng and Michele Gould combines immersive cinema and multimedia theatre and is based on Mark Bolotin’s ongoing ‘Etc: Experiments in Theatre and Cinema’ project, supported by NIDA X.

This is a co-production with the National Theatre of Parramatta.

Frankenstein
By Mary Shelley
Adapted by Benjamin Schostakowski
Directed by Benjamin Schostakowski

A young scientist dreams of reanimating the dead in this electric new adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. As the world grapples with the proliferation of artificially intelligent life, this gothic fable hits a nerve. This production is a pitch-black fever dream, visually striking and horrific.

Adapted and directed by NIDA’s Head of Directing Benjamin Schostakowski, who recently directed two striking works for NIDA, Metamorphosis and The Seagull.

First Love is the Revolution
By Rita Kalnejais
Directed by Anthea Williams

First Love is the Revolution is a star-crossed, cross-species romance like no other. Romeo and Juliet is pushed to extremes in this endearing Australian play about a forbidden romance between a bullied 14-year-old boy and a young fox with a brutal birthright. This unconventional love story between hunter and prey is an ingenious exploration of our relationships with family, destiny and freedom as we follow two individuals searching to find their own way of being in the world.

Written by Babyteeth author Rita Kalnejais and directed by Anthea Williams (Belvoir, MTC), this is a story of whirring, all-consuming first love.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
By Rachel Sheinkin
Music and lyrics by William Finn
Directed by Darren Yap
Music Direction by Andrew Bevis
Choreography by Kelley Abbey

Spelling never seemed so cut-throat as in this Tony Award-winning musical about six charming outsider teens edging closer to the coveted championship title. The Spelling Bee is the one place they can both stand out and fit in.

They are under the watchful eyes of parents and teachers who’ve barely made it out of their own adolescence. Witty and unexpectedly heart-warming, here’s a show that proves that winning isn’t everything and losing doesn’t make you a loser.

Darren Yap, who has directed across Australia as well as in Singapore, Tokyo and the UK, helms a production with music direction by West End whizz Andrew Bevis and choreography by the legendary Kelley Abbey.

October Productions
An Octoroon
By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Timothy Douglas

In a 2018 poll by critics of The New York Times, An Octoroon was ranked the second-greatest American play of the past 25 years. When it premiered, it was called “this decade’s most eloquent statement on race in America today.” (The New York Times). Dion Boucicault’s 1859 melodrama The Octoroon, about a man who scandalously falls for a slave on his Louisiana plantation, helped fan the flames of the American Civil War. The dazzling African American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has torn apart and rebuilt the original text as a towering, immersive and wildly funny theatrical experience.

International guest director Timothy Douglas, who has helmed more than 100 productions across major American theatres, makes his Australian debut.

Stupid Fucking Bird
By Aaron Posner
Directed by Eva Grace Mullaley

Stupid Fucking Bird is an irreverent, anarchic and very funny remix of Chekhov’s The Seagull, replete with original songs. In this production, Chekhov’s classic tale of love and longing, missed opportunities and misplaced dreams is run through a post-theatrical shredder to be set down in the hubbub of 21st century life. It explores the difficult pursuit of art and creativity and what it means to be an artist and asks the ultimate question: how far will we go to find happiness?

A uniquely Australian take on this award-winning American work, this production is directed by Eva Grace Mullaley, a Widi woman from the Yamatji Nation in WA and former Artistic Director of Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.

Spring Awakening
By Frank Wedekind
In a new version by Claudia Osborne
Directed by Claudia Osborne

Spring Awakening is perhaps the greatest play written about teenagers, before teenagers were even invented. Banned and censored for many years, Wedekind’s radical and brutally authentic take on adolescent sexuality was a full-frontal collision against its 19th century setting – a world defined by moral strictures, rigidity, and rules.

This new adaptation from director Claudia Osborne reframes this tale of unbridled youthful stirrings of sexual desire for the post #MeToo era.

Mother
Directed by Lindy Hume
A co-production with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

This special collaboration premieres four short new operas created by postgraduate students from NIDA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music that explore aspects of the mother and motherhood, from personal to political, from quirky to queer. From the bloodlines of womanhood to the birth of a Star Baby, from a snakeskin nightmare to the finale of a reality television competition to find the next pop superstar, these captivating music dramas range across musical idioms and showcase a new generation of musical storytellers.

This co-production is directed by Lindy Hume, one of Australia’s great directors with more than 50 major productions across Australasia and a long line of international work stretching from Berlin to London to Seattle.


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