The Removalists is more than an HSC text brought to life, says ACA alum

ACA Company will stage four Australian dramas in 2023 aimed at HSC students, free for teachers, and open to the general public.

HSC Drama and English students in NSW are now able to watch their assigned texts performed in person by trained professionals, thanks to a new initiative by Actors Centre Australia (ACA).

Called the ACA Company, this initiative will stage four Australian dramas throughout the year that will be aimed at HSC students and also open to the general public. Oh, and they’re free for teachers to attend too.

Actors Centre Australia is a leading performing arts school that specialises in teaching acting for the stage and the screen.

‘It’s an excellent school,’ says graduate and now guest director Harry Reid. ‘I grew so much as a person while I was there, and really started to thrive the more I was pushed out of my comfort zone as a performer.’

Reid decided to study at ACA after producing and directing several award-winning short films, and working as a director’s assistant and in the art department on several other films. After graduating from ACA, he formed the Company Theatre – and produced and directed its first show, ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, which sold out to rave reviews in late 2022.

‘I totally credit the ongoing support of the ACA community for the confidence I have as an actor and director today,’ he says.

ACA is where Reid solidified his love of directing for stage. ‘I still remember that first play I directed – it was Attempts on Her Life by Martin Crimp at ACA. It was challenging because its text that has no characters or stage direction!’

He is currently directing the ACA Company’s production of The Removalists, an Australian play by David Williamson from 1971 about domestic violence and the abuse of power. ‘It’s very different to Attempts on Her Life,’ he says. ‘There’s a lot of interesting themes there that are both quintessentially 1970s Australian issues and also contemporary Australian issues.’ Plenty of fodder for HSC students’ essays, in other words.

The plays being performed in the inaugural year of the ACA Company are The Laramie Project (May), The Removalists (May), The Female of the Species (September), and The Shape of Things (September).

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 recorded Q&A session with writers David Williamson (The Removalists) and Joanna Murray-Smith (The Female of the Species).

‘It’s vital that students go and see the plays that they are studying – to read a text and not see it performed is like reading a script and never seeing the movie,’ Reid says.

‘Hopefully it also means they’ll be inspired to continue the pursuit of acting outside of high school. I think they’ll be impressed by ACA’s facilities and potentially aim for further study there’.

The cast and crew of The Removalists is also comprised entirely of ACA alumni, which means there is a direct pipeline from study to paid work for graduates of ACA.

‘The best thing about working with ACA people is that they’re super easy to work with – everyone’s there to commit and support each other,’ Reid continues. ‘I think that comes from the fact that ACA isn’t as cutthroat as other more traditional drama schools. It’s a nurturing place that inspires the creative artistic pursuit of individuals with a strong focus on the wider arts community.’

Applications are now open for ACA’s Foundation Program 20 July intake for those looking for part-time acting training.

For more information about The Removalists, which is on this month, all upcoming ACA performances, and course details, visit the Education Program section of the Actor’s Centre Australia website.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports