National Institute of Dramatic Art
|National Institute of
|Motto||Excellence, Innovation and Access in Arts Education|
|Location||Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA, ˈnaɪdə) is an Australian national training institute for students of theatre, film, and television, based in the Sydney suburb of Kensington. It is supported by the federal Office for the Arts, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. NIDA is located adjacent to, and has a strong relationship with, the University of New South Wales. It is a member of the "Australian Roundtable for Arts Training Excellence".
Established in 1958, the National Institute of Dramatic Art was opened in 1959 with only 23 students and two staff members. The second course offered was in acting. Over the years, courses in areas such as film production, design, theatre director, and production crafts were added. The first head of design at NIDA was Arthur Dicks
Admission to NIDA is extremely selective, and its auditions highly competitive; on average, only one out of every one hundred applicants is accepted. Each year, approximately 24 actors, 6 directors, 6 playwrights, 14 production students, 8 designers, 5 properties students and 4 costume students are admitted.
Graduates from the institution's three-year tertiary education program have gone on to national and international success.
In April 2002 the new NIDA complex was opened. NIDA's facilities include:
- A 725-seat proscenium arch style theatre with stalls, two galleries, a large stage, fly tower and orchestra pit (Parade Theatre)
- A self-contained flexible studio theatre, seating 155, with a wrap-around mezzanine and steeply raked seating (Parade Playhouse, formally the NIDA Theatre)
- Two intimate 80-120 seat spaces with flexible seating arrangement (Parade Studio and Space)
- Reg Grundy Studio for film and television training and production
- A library to accommodate NIDA's theatre and media collection of books, DVDs, CDs, audio-visual and multi-media material
- Rehearsal rooms for training, outside hire, and NIDA's Corporate Performance and Open Program courses.
- A foyer space for formal occasions such as product launches, conferences, and sit-down dinners for 300 people.
- Scenery, Properties and Costume workshops for manufacturing and maintaining production elements of NIDA productions
- Lighting and Sound studios for the training of students
The National Institute of Dramatic Art provides education and training for the arts and entertainment industry including; full-time courses, short courses and corporate training. The theatre complex hosts in-house and commercial productions. NIDA houses Australia's largest performing arts library and a broad range of theatre resources and archives.
Full-time courses at the National Institute of Dramatic Art include:
- Acting (Bachelor of Dramatic Art)
- Design (Bachelor of Dramatic Art)
- Production (Bachelor of Dramatic Art)
- Staging (Bachelor of Dramatic Art)
- Costume (Bachelor of Dramatic Art)
- Properties (Bachelor of Dramatic Art)
- Directing (Grad. Dip. Dramatic Art or Master of Dramatic Art)
- Playwriting (Grad. Dip. Dramatic Art)
The National Institute of Dramatic Art also offers a range of short courses, each relating to the dramatic arts. Such subject areas include acting, design, production, directing and voice, all of which are offered to members of the general public.
The Corporate Performance department provides executives and business professionals with access to acting, voice and movement practitioners for training in improving business presentations and communications.
The National Institute of Dramatic Art has many prominent industry professionals visit the institute throughout the teaching year to assist in the training of students in their selected fields.
- Director / CEO: Lynne Williams
- Director, Operations: Allan Morgan
- Director, Student & Staff Services: Julia Selby
- Director, Business Development: Dustin Lockett
- Director, Finance: Jim Shanahan
- Director, Undergraduate Studies & Head of Design: Michael Scott-Mitchell
- Director, Postgraduate Studies & Head of Directing: Egil Kipste
- Head of Acting: Jeff Janisheski
- Head of Screen: Di Drew
- Head of Movement: TBC
- Head of Music: Andrew Ross
- Head of Voice: Katerina Moraitis
- Head of Writing for Performance: Stephen Sewell
- Head of Production: Graham Henstock
- Head of Stage Management: Mary Benn
- Head of Production Crafts: Nick Day
- Head of Costume: Fiona Reilly
- Head of Scenery: Tony Pierce
- Head of Properties: Todd Arthur
Play productions are NIDA's most important teaching activity, with around 20 plays being produced at NIDA each year.
Each course is centred on training practitioners for work in the industry. Each day provides students with a structured series of activities, which balance the acquisition of skills with artistic excellence.
All the full-time courses are conducted in two modes. The first, the Teaching Program, consists of formal class work, practical instruction, seminars and research, often supplemented by periods of secondment in the industry. As part of the teaching program, students attend formal classes, seminars and/or discussion groups.
The second mode, the Production Program, provides practical learning experiences. Each student is given the opportunity to practice the intellectual, imaginative and technical skills acquired in the Teaching Program, working in the performance, design, manufacture or management of productions for presentation to the general public. Production work involves morning, afternoon, night and weekend rehearsals or performances.
The NIDA School Year consists of four terms of 6 to 12 weeks. Courses usually commence in early February and end in early November.
Play productions are the National Institute of Dramatic Art's most important teaching activity. Actors in particular learn by repetition, by performing a role many times in the theatre before different audiences. Once they have acquired the basic skills, students in the other courses learn by taking on the kinds of responsibilities they will be faced with in the industry.
All NIDA plays are a microcosm of the industry, with every element of the production from lighting and set construction to costumes and properties being produced by the students.
There are also opportunities to develop skills for working in film, with Acting students having access to a film and television studio.
In 2012, one of NIDA's board members, Chris Puplick, who was on the board from 1994 to 2000 and from 2007 to 2010, resigned after criticzing the school for producing a lack of sustainable content and "sustaining the insatiable television demand for pretty and disposable bodies." Puplik also criticized the National Institute of Dramatic Art's director and chief executive, Lynne Williams, who he says "Williams has never directed a significant theatre performance; taught acting students; supervised theatre training or auditioned students for placement in a training institution, or ever earned a living in the professional theatre," which he wrote in his essay Changing Times at NIDA. A mass number of staff had also left the school due to the changes in curriculum and teaching standards. NIDA's board commented back on Puplick's comments stating "Mr Puplick is an apparently disaffected former board member. His paper is a biased essay, the foundations being riddled with errors compounded by the selective use of source material. Mr Puplick’s three years (2007-2010) on the NIDA board were marked by conflict with the overwhelming majority of members over many issues, including future directions for NIDA and appropriate levels of involvement for a board member in the day-to-day operations of the Institute."
Notable graduates from the National Institute of Dramatic Art include:
- Steve Bisley
- Cate Blanchett
- Claire van der Boom
- Grant Bowler
- Tom Burlinson
- Elena Carapetis
- Bridie Carter
- Timothy Conigrave
- Tyler Coppin
- Judy Davis
- Dale Ferguson
- Kate Fitzpatrick
- Colin Friels
- Josh Gad
- Mel Gibson
- Trilby Glover
- John Hargreaves
- Joe Hasham
- Matthew Le Nevez
- Tom Long
- Baz Luhrmann
- Jessica Marais
- Catherine McClements
- Scott McGregor
- Jacqueline McKenzie
- Greg McLean
- Helen Morse
- Matt Passmore
- Robyn Nevin
- Bojana Novakovic
- Alex O'Loughlin
- Miranda Otto
- Susie Porter
- Mark Priestley
- Philip Quast
- Richard Roxburgh
- Toby Schmitz
- Hugh Sheridan
- Jeremy Sims
- Ian Stenlake
- Pamela Stephenson
- Sonia Todd
- Anna Torv
- Michael Tuahine
- Matthew Walker
- Hugo Weaving
- Catherine Martin
- Sam Worthington
- Essie Davis
- Adam Tuominen
- Emilie De Ravin
- Helen "Greg" Gregson
- Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008-09-15). "Arts training bodies". Retrieved 2008-10-03.
- LoPresti, Linda (2012-10-31). "The NIDA controversy". Radio National.
- Taylor, Andrew (2012-09-17). "Drama at NIDA: former board member slams falling standards". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Eltham, Ben (2012-09-21). "NIDA dramatics ignore play on arts education". Crikey.