Monday, May 17, 2010

Classically Alex: NIDA Trained

By Pam

Alex O'Loughlin graduated with a Bachelor degree in acting from NIDA in 2002.

TARA MORICE: Well, it's well known to anyone ever wanting to get into NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) that there are thousands of people who audition across Australia and how difficult it is to get in. So, in one sense, that's a great challenge. In another sense, it's a great fear.*
(Tara Morice, a 1987 NIDA graduate, is an Australian actress, singer and dancer)
Picture Alex attending NIDA classes, enduring the process and knowing when he graduates he will be prepared to take on the world. Do you think this education shaped him not only as an actor, but as a man? 
O'Loughlin's ability to empathise with other people and roles is "quite astounding," says Tony Knight, NIDA's head of acting.
Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Acting)


The Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Acting) is a three-year, full-time course.

The Acting course prepares students for a career as a professional actor by providing a practical approach to acting in theatre, film, television and radio.


The course provides a practical approach to acting in theatre, film, television and radio. Students are given broad training in every phase of the actor's art.

Students are taught a range of vocational skills and the ability to apply these skills with imagination, intelligence, integrity and empathy.

The course's strong focus on craft and imagination develops the students' personal work methods and expressive communication skills, while using the tools of improvisation and spontaneous activity to enrich the imagination. In addition to skills classes in voice, movement and music, students are introduced to a variety of acting "methods" and are encouraged to develop their own individual approach over the three years of the course.

The course is concerned with developing two complementary aspects of the actor's art: craft and imagination.

Craft is that part of the actor's art which can be learnt by practice, guidance and technique. It involves the development of a personal work-method, as well as expressive communication skills. It also involves a commitment to professional discipline and the process of individual development through group activity and constructive personal objectives.

Imagination is that part of the actor's art which cannot be learnt, but which can be continually enriched by improvisation and spontaneous activity, by observation and awareness, by contact with all the associated arts and by exploration of the creative impulse.

[Alex O’Loughlin] says he literally woke up one morning and knew he must apply for NIDA. They didn't invite him: he invited himself, at the age of 23.**
Applicants seeking admission must:

* have reached the age of 18 before the commencement of the course (in exceptional circumstances this may be waived)

* hold a Higher School Certificate or its equivalent from any State or Territory in Australia or overseas (in exceptional circumstances this may be waived)
* show at an interview a high level of intelligence, practical ability, artistic sense, authority, tact, potential and motivation
* be fluent in spoken and proficient in written English language (equivalent to an overall band score of 8.0 IELTS).

All subjects are compulsory. NIDA students are required to complete a confidential health questionnaire to demonstrate their medical fitness to undertake the course and to assist NIDA in its duty of care to students.

The primary criterion for admission to the Acting course is evidence of an applicant's talent and his/her potential for making a career as a professional actor in the arts entertainment industry.
TONY KNIGHT: NIDA can't cope with lazy students, point-blank. Undisciplined, unprofessional, selfish egotists - they're the type of people that will not have a successful time at NIDA. What I'm looking for is young people who take their art seriously.*
The old problems with institutions resurfaced, and [Alex] found his first year there very challenging.
(From The Canberra Times: Alex’s Pearls of Wisdom, June 28, 2005)
First year work deals with the technical skills of voice, movement, music - emotions and intellect. All skills classes are linked with the acting classes, which emphasis open communication and the exploration of each individual's personal resources. Students are expected to suspend previous acting habits and seek to develop a personal, organic work method.

Text analysis, Alexander Technique, story-telling and a broad-based study of theatre history are also part of first year work. General Studies introduces students to aspects of contemporary culture.

First year work concentrates on acting, improvisation and rehearsal. Students work on self-devised pieces. Film and television exercises are conducted in acting for the camera, as well as classes in how to operate cameras, lighting, sound and editing equipment.

First year subjects are Acting 1, Voice 1, Movement 1, Music 1, History of Theatre 1, General Studies, Play Production 1, and Professional Development 1.


First year work is extended and developed. Students continue to evolve individual work methods approaching character in action as they work on increasingly complex texts. Skills such as singing, make-up, dialect and various forms of dance are added to the course. Study of theatre history, literature and language and Alexander Technique continues.

Students also participate in practical workshops involving works by Shakespeare, Chekhov, comic and musical scene work and film and television exercises in acting for the camera. Each student presents a self-devised individual movement piece.

A variety of styles of plays are rehearsed and performed before public audiences.

Second year subjects are Acting 2, Voice 2, Movement 2, Music 2, History of Theatre 2, Play Production 2, and Professional Development 2.


The third year of the course enables students to consolidate and refine individual work methods. There is a reduced timetable of formal classes, with time provided for private tutorials and greater emphasis on rehearsal and performance. There are also classes in theatre, film and television audition techniques. Students develop their own repertoire of audition scenes.

Advanced film and television exercises and workshops are held at NIDA by industry professionals and visiting specialists and at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) with AFTRS students.

Third year is organised to prepare students for the profession. Contemporary, classical or physical theatre productions are rehearsed and presented to public audiences. Professional directors, producers and agents are invited to productions and to audition showings. They work with students whenever possible.

At the end of the teaching year, a professional orientation course focuses on the practical realities of the entertainment industry; how to enter the profession and build and sustain a productive career.

Third year subjects are Acting 3, Voice 3, Movement 3, Music 3, Screen Studies, Play Production 3, and Professional Development 3.

Title of Qualification:
Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Acting)

Head of Course:
Tony Knight