From page to stage for HSC students in 2023

A new initiative by Actors Centre Australia will give HSC students the chance to see their curriculum texts performed.

HSC English and Drama students will be able to watch their curriculum texts come alive in 2023 thanks to a new initiative by Actors Centre Australia (ACA).

For its inaugural year, the newly formed ACA Company, comprising alumni of the ACA, will stage productions of Australian curriculum dramas The Laramie Project (May), The Removalists (May), The Female of the Species (September), and The Shape of Things (September). Open to the general public and students, and free for teachers to attend, the shows will be performed at Actors Centre Australia in Leichhardt, NSW.

Each performance will be followed by a live Q&A session with the directors and cast, giving insight into the interpretation and staging. In addition, The Removalists and The Female of the Species will feature a bespoke recorded Q&A session with writers Joanna Murray-Smith (The Female of the Species) and David Williamson (The Removalists).

Head of Acting at ACA and Artistic Director ACA Company Adam Cook says the benefits of this type of after-show session are significant.

‘I ran the State Theatre Company South Australia in Adelaide for 10 years and we always had Q&As with schools,’ he says. ‘The students loved having the ability to talk to the people who had just created the show that they’d seen.’

The difference between a show on the page and one interpreted by actors is immeasurable, he adds. ‘A play as written is only the beginning of its life and identity; it’s meant to be performed. Seeing the text played out in three dimensions will help students understand plays as living documents.’

While 2023 is the first year, it won’t be the last, with plans to make the ACA Company, and the staging of HSC texts, an annual program. Whether the students lucky enough to see the shows go on to study a course such as ACA’s Bachelor of Performing Arts (Stage and Screen) or follow a completely different path in life, the experience, Cook says, can be transformative.

‘I get very excited seeing the impact of live performance on young minds,’ he says. ‘I’ve seen it many times in my very long career. From older children maxing out their Netflix subscriptions and every other streaming service possible, we know they love to watch human beings having it out. And to see that live is so much more thrilling because you’re breathing the same air as the characters – you’re in the same space.’

And with that living, breathing performance comes a sense – unique to theatre – of real-time jeopardy.

‘As the actors and directors, we of course know what’s going to happen but, somehow, it still feels like, moment to moment, there could be a different outcome,’ Cook says. ‘Part of the discussion with students is around why human beings behave the way they do, why they choose one option and not another. Plays can open people’s minds to different ways of living. They can broaden someone’s idea of what it means to be human.’

Tickets are selling fast so visit Actors Centre Australia today for more information and to book your tickets.