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Why students are your best source of information at a university open day

Potential students attending WAAPA’s Open Day on 11 August can learn why graduates describe their time at the Academy as the best years of their life.
Why students are your best source of information at a university open day

Music Theatre students perform Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Photo by Jon Green.

When attending a university open day, it’s common for visitors to put questions about the campus and its courses to lecturers and student recruitment officers. The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) does things a little differently. Here, prospective students are urged to talk directly with their peers.

‘I always tell potential students to not just speak to the lecturers but to go and talk to the students – because they’re here now and they’re going to tell you exactly how it is,’ explained WAAPA Marketing Manager Anton Mazandarani.

‘We’re pretty unique as far as I can gather over here in WA that we have somewhere between 200 and 300 of our current students heavily involved in the Open Day … And we’re so confident with what we are going to provide for you as a future student that we’re going to let you walk around and meet and talk directly to the student body. Because what we always get back from all of our survey results and anecdotally, is “My three or four years at WAAPA were the best years of my life,”’ Mazandarani said.

Running from 10am until 3pm on Sunday 11 August, the WAAPA Open Day is an invaluable opportunity to experience the ins and outs of daily life at an elite arts training institution.

‘We’ve got three concert venues that we run all day, featuring all the various genres of music being performed by all the different student ensembles – classical, jazz and pop-rock, R & B, soul, funk and hip hop,’ Mazandarani told ArtsHub.

‘Then there are classes run pretty much all day in the main ballet studio and the main contemporary dance studio, covering everything from barre work and pointe work in the classical areas through to choreographic lessons and working on new pieces for upcoming seasons.’

WAAPA’s theatres will be hosting open rehearsals for upcoming productions, including The Taming of the Shrew, Wilde’s An Ideal Husband and the musical Sweet Charity, while elsewhere visitors can view short films starring the screen performance students.

Third year Design student Amalia Lambert at work on one of the costumes for Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Photo credit: Stephen Heath.

Those of a more technical bent are also catered for at WAAPA’s Open Day, Mazandarani continued.

‘All the production design areas – costume design, lighting, props and scenery, sound and stage management – those studio spaces are open and will be hosting really beautiful exhibits, such as the costumes the students created for our recent musical production, Strictly Ballroom.’

There will also be new exhibits, created by the props and scenery students. ‘They’re all making massive life-sized replica architectural features and showing off their versatile skill sets when it comes to working with different materials. One student is making the entry of Number 10 Downing Street – you can knock on the door and actually go in,’ Mazandarani laughed.  

As well as providing insights into the range of activities and opportunities on offer at WAAPA, attending the Open Day also gives prospective students a deeper understanding of how attending the Academy will hone their existing skills should they decide to apply for admission in 2020. Applications to WAAPA courses for 2020 are now open.

‘Our students are already pretty talented when they get to us – we have a rigorous audition and interview process. But an education here is adding to their skill set, preparing them for the industry and exposing them to a range of professionals who they will be working with when they graduate,’ Mazandarani said.

‘Everything we do here is industry-simulated training. The students here have between 30 and 40 contact hours a week … and there is no greater way to learn than hands-on practitioning, doing what you love – dancing six and a half hours a day if you’re a dancer, or various classes and then rehearsals if you’re an actor.

‘We’ve got work-ready graduates here. No employers will need to put them through extra professional development or anything. They’re ready to go. They’ve been incubated and they’re rip-roaring ready to go,’ Mazandarani concluded.

WAAPA’s Open Day takes place on Sunday 11 August from 10am – 3 pm. Visit to learn more about studying at WAAPA.

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Richard Watts

Thursday 25 July, 2019

About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R FM, a program he has hosted since 2004.

Richard currently serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management, and is also a former Chair of Melbourne Fringe. The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, he has also served as President of the Green Room Awards Association and as a member of the Green Room's Independent Theatre panel. 

Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend in 2017. Most recently he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize for 2019.

Twitter: @richardthewatts