History

Founded in 1958, NIDA commenced acting classes in 1959. 

More than 50 years later, NIDA has grown to 170 full-time students annually, approximately 70 full-time staff members and added courses in acting, directing, writing for performance, design, music theatre, production, costume, properties and staging.

Select the drop-down boxes below to find out more about our history.

NIDA's beginning

The beginning

1959

  • In February, Robert Quentin, the founding director of NIDA, holds the first acting class; he hopes to break away from the ‘shadow to English understatement’ and develop a distinctly Australian style of acting
  • NIDA’s first play is Thornton Wilder’s Our Town
  • The first NIDA productions are staged in the Physics Lecture Theatre and Science Theatre of the University of New South Wales (UNSW)
1962 
  • NIDA moves to its new home, The White House and old Totalisator building at UNSW, and stays there until December 1987
Old Tote Theatre

1963 

1966

  • NIDA establishes the Jane Street Season of Australian and classical plays in association with the NIDA Advanced Course

1969 

  • The Old Tote Theatre Company separates from NIDA to become in independent company

1978 

  • UNSW’s  ‘Old Tin Shed’ was renamed as the NIDA Theatre
Buildings

1987 

  • NIDA moves to its new building with construction generously supported by the Commonwealth Government, located adjacent to the Parade Theatre on Anzac Parade

1999 

  • NIDA applies to the Centenary of Federation Fund and there is promise of a new theatre

2001 

  • The new NIDA building is officially opened by The Honourable John Howard MP, Prime Minister of Australia

2002 

  • The renovated building wins the Sulman Award for public architecture
NIDA Open Program

1990 

  • NIDA Open Program is established
Parade Theatres

1999 

  • Final performance in the old Parade Theatre on 24 October – the play is Stephan Jeffrey’s The Libertine

2002 

  • New Parade Theatre is officially opened by Mel Gibson, who contributed generously to the building fund
  • First Parade Theatre production is the Australian premiere of Nick Enright’s Country Music
And the rest...

2000 

  • During the Sydney Olympic Games, NIDA contributes the only original production to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival with There’s No Need to Wake Up

2002 

  • Over 5,000 people visit NIDA on Open Day

2010 

  • NIDA forms a relationship with Channel 7, principal partner of the full-time school

Courses

1959 

  • NIDA opens with a two-year course in Acting

1961 

  • A two-year Production course is added

1972 

  • Both the Acting and Production courses become three-year courses
  • A three-year Design course and a one-year graduate course in Directing are introduced

1990 

  • A two-year Associate Diploma Course in Theatre Crafts (specialising in either scenery, properties and costume) is introduced

1991 

  • Three one-year graduate diploma courses in Voice Studies, Movement Studies and Production Management are introduced

1994 

  • Bachelor of Dramatic Art is replaced the Diploma of Dramatic Art for students of Acting, Technical Production and Design

2001

  • Bachelor of Dramatic Art in Production Crafts replaces the Associate Diploma in Theatre Crafts
  • Advanced Diploma of Dramatic Art in Scenery Construction is introduced

2004 

  • Accreditation of a one-year Master of Dramatic Art in three streams: Voice Studies, Movement Studies and Directing (a Playwriting stream was accredited in 2006)

2005 

2009 

2011

2013

Awards and acknowledgements

StageStruck
  • Milia d’Or Award for Best Educational Title (2000) 
  • Australian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association (AIMIA) Award for Best Arts and Cultural Title or Website (1999) 
  • Winner of the New York Festivals International Interactive Multimedia Competition’s Gold Medal for Education (1999) 
  • British Film Academy of Film and Televisions Arts (BAFTA) award for Interactive Treatment (1998) 
  • The International EMMA award for Best Educational Product (1998) 
  • The International Emma Gold Award for Best Overall Product (1998) 
1999
  • The Australian Senate congratulates NIDA on its great contribution to enriching Australia’s culture over the past 40 years.

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