There’s no drama in learning in the garden

WORK experience can be a pretty frightening concept for students.

But finding a placement where the “work” aligns with an interest or passion is one way of making it it less daunting.

This is exactly what six budding actors from the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy in Hobart have done.

The students, Kate Vosper, Lucy Bauermeister, Harrison Newman, Jack Hancock, Flynn Lewis and Oscar Parkinson, recently swapped the green room for the greenery at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens when they helped local theatre company Big Monkey stage its annual family show, Robin Hood, during January.

Academy principal Belinda Bradley said the work experience program was designed to complement the drama and communication skills taught at the academy.

“It was a very positive experience for the students,” she said.

“The students were lucky enough to participate in all aspects of the production, from observing the stage manager’s (Luke Preer) role and assisting with set up, pack up, to taking part in the actor’s warm up.

“They experienced first-hand the challenges involved with performing in an outdoor environment and now have a greater understanding of all the different elements that need to come together in order to put on a show like the one Big Monkey does in the gardens each year.”

Ms Bradley said the students finished the placement feeling inspired and very grateful to have received such an all-round experience of working in the theatre.

“The actors and crew were very generous with their time and knowledge and the students heard lots about what it’s like to be a professional actor and the various paths that can be taken to follow through with a career in this area.”

Show front-of-house manager and Big Monkey board member John Xintavelonis acted as a role model for the students, who shared with them his personal journey in the world of the performing arts.

One of the actors in this year’s production, Will Pridmore, developed his skills by volunteering with Big Monkey from around the age of 15.

Now a fully-fledged cast member, Mr Pridmore was able to inspire the students through his own experiences and success.

Big Monkey’s Robin Hood was written and directed by Les Winspear.

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