Thursday, September 25, 2014

National Institute Of Dramatic Arts (NIDA)

Today I'm going to learn about NIDA—the National Institute of Dramatic Arts.

Sometimes it seems every Australian actor graduated from there. I know that's not true, though, and recently I've encountered Aussie actors who studied elsewhere. But still. It does seem a lot of actors went to NIDA. I thought it would be interesting to know more about this place.

I think I shall start with Lord Wiki. What does he have to say about NIDA?

He says it's for students of theatre, film, and television.

One thing that just came to my mind—something obvious, but not something I have really considered. Although it seems most Aussie film and television stars studied at NIDA, it doesn't mean that every student of NIDA becomes a successful film, television, or theater star.  I wonder what percentage of people are successful? And by successful I mean they can survive on the money they make from acting. Or they're broke, but they have a ton of fans.

Lord Wiki says NIDA is in Kensington. I'm looking at on Google Maps. It's in the University of New South Wales area. Lord Wiki says the two institutions have a strong relationship. Romantic or platonic?

I just followed a link Lord Wiki provided. It's a list of the top twenty-five drama schools in the world.  NIDA is #8.

You know I think this is biased, though. It's from the Hollywood Reporter. Lord Wiki confirms my assumption that it's an American thing. Right?

Well, so I thought for sure, before looking at the list, that a British school would be number one.  I know you're not supposed to say things like Asians are good at math and science. But I'm going to do it anyway.  I think there's something about British people and acting. Although maybe they're so good at it, they don't need a special amazing school.

I think America is best at making movies and television shows. I'll give us that. But in terms of acting, I think we come behind the UK and Australia.

I'm looking at the list though. The top four schools are American. The UK doesn't come in until #5.

Well, maybe I should swallow my words. And my opinions. I wanted to see another viewpoint. I looked at a London acting website. They too say the top acting schools are in the US. Well, they say the two top schools are in America, and the other top three are in the UK.

Right now my favorite actor is David Tennant (of course). Where did he go?

Lord Wiki says it was the Scottish Academy of Music and Drama—now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. So THAT is the best acting school in the world. No arguments allowed.

But NIDA is good too.

Let's get back to that.

Lord Wiki says it was established in 1958 and opened in 1959.  In the beginning. there were twenty-three students and two staff members.  It was small and cozy.

Wow. It's STILL small and cozy. There are only 152 undergraduate students and 12 post-graduates. That seems very small to me. With that size and selectivity, I imagine a pretty high percentage of graduates are successful.

Lord Wiki says the applicant acceptance rate is about 1%.  It's not just actors who are taught at the school. They also teach directors, playwrights, costume designers, and other show business folks.

If I'm understanding things right, a lot of learning takes place through the production of plays. They do a lot of theater.

I'm looking at the alumni of the school. I was wondering if I should list everyone I've heard of. That would be a long list. Then I thought, maybe I should do the opposite—list the actors I've never heard of before. While looking it all over, I came across Josh Gad's name. It sounded familar, but I couldn't place him. I clicked on Lord Wiki's entry about him and realized I definitely know of him.  It's just I don't know him as an Australian actor. Well....because he's not an Australian actor.

Lord Wiki says he did a semester exchange at NIDA.

I wonder if any successful non-Australian actors have done the whole program at NIDA

I just went through Lord Wiki's list. There were a couple of Kiwi actors. But I think they spent enough time in Australia to be considered sort-of Australian.

Now I'm going to look at the NIDA website.

Ah. There's another NIDA—The National Institute of Drug Abuse. That's what I got when I Googled.

But now I'm at the right one.

Their history page says that the founding director of NIDA was a guy named Robert Quentin.  The Australian Dictionary of Biography has a page about him.  He was born and educated in England. See? That's why he was able to bring good acting lessons to Australia. I think it's in their blood.  I bet you could go on The London Underground; randomly select a person; demand they perform a Shakespeare Soliloquy; and they'd totally blow your socks off.  (Note: Person must be a resident of the UK.  Asking a tourist from Canada doesn't count).

Though NIDA is highly selective, they do offer courses to the general public.  This page has information about this past winter holiday program.  It's a bit outdated. I wonder why they haven't replaced it with information about a Spring holiday program. Or maybe they don't have one? Still...they could remove the winter stuff.

Here's a list of general public adult courses.  It's $590 for a five session class. And each session is seven hours.  It sounds pretty intense.

Oh! And I just noticed the classes are offered all over the country. They have ones in Canberra, Brisbane, Hobart, etc. I wonder what the quality is like compared to the classes filled with students who had to audition.

They have a Dr. Who class for teens! That's awesome. It's September 22-September 29; 10-4.  I'm assuming that's the Spring holidays.  So they do have a Spring program.  It's just a matter of their website being slightly disorganized.

This page has a list of their upcoming productions and events.

Wolf in the River looks fairly good to me. It's about a girl who's neglected.  It's an American thing, written by an American and about America. So I guess this will be a case of Australian actors pretending to be Americans.

I wish NIDA provided more information, like who's going to be acting in the play. I'm curious. Or maybe I'll find that on another page.

This page has a list of NIDA's 2013 alumni.  I wonder which of them will become famous.

Just by looking at their faces, the one that appeals to me most is Zoe Jenson.  It's not really about who's attractive. There's a lot of pretty faces. But Jenson looks...interesting. Cute. I'd want to know more about her.

That being said...I usually don't like people based on face alone.  I'm sure I'd like a lot of these actors if I saw them in action. I'm not really a love at first sight kind of person.

Now I'm looking at the writers. It's funny. Their faces are more interesting to me than the actors.  You don't really need an appealing face to be a writer. Though I guess it helps when you're trying to pitch your huge ideas.

I just looked at all the 2013 faces—the directors, actors, writers, costume people, etc. My favorite face is a writer named Fregmonto Strokes.

I'm being very shallow right now. Sorry.

I just looked at the profile of Fremento Strokes. He's a writer, but also a performer. So his face might come in handy.

Besides writing plays and attending the prestigious NIDA, Strokes has worked in the Bhutan, has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a degree in Spanish, and a degree in Visual Arts.  That's quite impressive.

I just Googled Fremento Strokes and found a YouTube video about him photo-bombing Tony Abbott.

Strokes is described as an activist. He bothers people like Tony Abbott and Clive Palmer as an act of protest.  It's a way to get your ideas and feelings noticed without having to behead someone or blow something up.  It might be annoying at times, but annoying is much better than deadly.

I'm looking back at the actor page—seeing if any of these recent alumni will be on TV or film. Theater's fantastic too, of course. It's just not as easily accessible to me. So I pay it less attention.


There's Lauren Pegus.  Not only was she good enough for NIDA, but she was a champion water polo player.

It's kind of not fair. Some people have all the luck. Or all the talent.

I think that's why I kind of fell in love with Rose Tyler. She's just this average woman who worked at a department store in London. Then something amazing happened to her.

I have this big thing for average people lately.

I'm tired of overly talented people.

But that's okay. Lauren Pegus can't help being above average. And I just wanted to mention that she has the lead role in an upcoming movie called True Face.

I think her photo on IMDb is much more appealing than her NIDA one. In the NIDA one she looks like a generic cheerleader; otherwise known as the character who gets killed first in a slasher film. In her IMDb photo, she looks like the girl who defeats the undead maniac. Or she could be the killer. That would be a cool twist. With that idea, I would go with this photo.

Olivia Charalambous is another actress who doesn't look to exciting to least not on her NIDA profile picture.  But she has a website with a show reel, and she looks great.

I think NIDA needs better profile photos of their acting students. Or maybe they use mediocre pictures on purpose. Maybe they do it so new applicants feel less intimidated.

Or maybe it's like one of those rules. Everyone has to look super ugly in their driver's license picture. You have to look sick and scary in your arrest photo. And in your NIDA photo, you have to look mediocre.