National Institute of Dramatic Art

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National Institute of
Dramatic Art
NIDA logo
Established 1958
Location Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
33°54′57″S 151°13′31″E / 33.9158°S 151.2252°E / -33.9158; 151.2252Coordinates: 33°54′57″S 151°13′31″E / 33.9158°S 151.2252°E / -33.9158; 151.2252
Campus Urban

The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) 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 Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. 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".[1] In 2013, NIDA was ranked as the 8th best drama school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter.[2]


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. In 2012, 1764 people auditioned for the full-time acting course, and 20 people were selected, resulting in an acceptance rate of 1.1%.[3]

Graduates from the institution's three-year tertiary education program have gone on to national and international success.


The National Institute of Dramatic Art complex

NIDA is located on Anzac Parade in the Sydney suburb of Kensington, across the road from the University of New South Wales. In October 2002, the new NIDA complex was opened. It was awarded the 2002 Sir John Sulman Medal for public architecture.[4]


NIDA has four theatres. The largest of these is the Parade Theatre, a 725-seat proscenium arch style theatre with stalls, two galleries, a large stage, fly tower and orchestra pit. The Parade Playhouse is a self-contained flexible studio theatre, seating 155, with a wrap-around mezzanine and steeply raked seating. The Parade Studio and the Parade Space are two further flexible 80-120 seat theatres.


The Rodney Seaborn Library contains 45,000 print titles including 26,500 plays. It is Australia's largest performing arts library.[5]

Other facilities[edit]

Other facilities at NIDA include the Reg Grundy Studio, a film and television training and production facility. There are nine full-sized rehearsal rooms, which vary from 100 to 220 square metres. The Nancy Fairfax foyer can accommodate up to 800 people and is used for product launches, conferences and sit-down dinners. There are scenery, properties and costume workshops and lighting and sound studios.


The National Institute of Dramatic Art complex with interior neon lights

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.


Full-time courses at the National Institute of Dramatic Art include:


  • Acting (Bachelor of Dramatic Art, intake of 20)
  • Design (Bachelor of Dramatic Art, intake of 8)
  • Production (Bachelor of Dramatic Art, intake of 14)
  • Staging (Bachelor of Dramatic Art)
  • Costume (Bachelor of Dramatic Art, intake of 4)
  • Properties (Bachelor of Dramatic Art, intake of 4)


  • Directing (Master of Fine Arts, intake of 6)
  • Playwriting (Master of Fine Arts, intake of 6)

Short courses[edit]

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.


National Institute of Dramatic Art theatre

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.[citation needed]

  • 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 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 criticising the school for producing a lack of sustainable content.[6]

Notable Alumni[edit]

Notable graduates from the National Institute of Dramatic Art include:





External links[edit]