NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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NIDA 1964/65 Alumni Celebrate 60 Year Reunion

NIDA recently held a reunion morning tea for alumni from 1964/65 to celebrate 60 years since they first met and studied at NIDA. The intimate group, who has been catching up every decade since 2004, were thrilled  to return to NIDA in person and via Zoom, where they were treated to a performance by NIDA Singing Actor student, presented with a slideshow of images from their era and taken on a tour of the Kensington campus.

Alumni in attendance were Helen Morse (Acting), Lyn Lee (Acting), Isobel Kirk (Acting), Daryl Wilkinson, Bill Pearson (Acting) and Keith Watson (Production).

Helen Morse said: 'NIDA in 1964/65 was a very intense time in our lives. We were trained by remarkable artists such as Irish director Joe MacColum; director/designer Robin Lovejoy; and dance/drama teacher Maggie Barr whose daily 9 am movement class in Top Tote to the music of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, I adored.  We were lucky to have our training complemented by an apprenticeship with the resident professional Old Tote Theatre Company; we worked front of house, made props, understudied the professional actors such as Alex Hay, Patricia Connolly, Ron Haddrick and even filled crowd scenes and played small parts in productions such as The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Othello and The Country Wife. Our student aspirations were transformed into vital reality. We’ve kept in touch because of our lived experience, the friendships we formed and a shared love of theatre and its history.'

L to R: Isobel Kirk (Acting), Daryl Wilkinson (Acting), Bill Pearson (Acting), Lyn Lee (Acting)
From left to right: Isobel Kirk (Acting), Daryl Wilkinson (Acting), Bill Pearson (Acting), Lyn Lee (Acting).

Daryl Wilkinson said: 'Our first reunion was in 2004 when we met under those huge Morton Bay fig trees next to the Old Tote building, 40 years to the day exactly where we met on our first day at NIDA. Many of us had not seen each other for 30 plus years. It was the most extraordinary, memorable experience catching up with each other’s lives during those intervening years. The most remarkable thing was that we felt so close to each other. Having shared such intense experiences at NIDA gave us a unique and lasting bond. From that day forward we kept in contact, first by group emails and more recently via Zoom.  We met again for our 50th but unfortunately, health issues prevented some of us from attending this 60th reunion.'

He added: 'An outstanding feature of our training was the fact that in those days NIDA supported a professional theatre company, The Old Tote Theatre company, later to become Sydney Theatre Company. This gave us the chance to work with and learn from Sydney’s best actors by understudying and taking small roles. Front of House duties were assigned to first years and I have clear memories of offering patrons free cigarettes at interval in a smoke-filled foyer! Unthinkable now!'

'I also developed and donated to the NIDA library a board game called Starring Roll reflecting the life of a performer. Inside the lid of the game box is an explanation of the genesis of the game.'

Daryl Edwards Donated his Game, "Starring Roll"

Daryl Wilkinson Donated his Board Game, Starring Roll.

Lyn Lee shared: 'My time as a student at NIDA changed my life. An important part of that change were the people I shared those years with. We came from different backgrounds, had different life experiences, were at different education levels and lived in different locations when we came together on that first day. We emerged as a cohesive whole when we performed our graduation play The Plough and The Stars. The headline above the review of that production read NIDA Ploughs Stars. It is amazing to think that 60 years have gone by and we are still different and still together. We had a lovely morning together and I came home with a smile on my face.'

Keith Watson said: 'Sixty years, a substantial landmark. Attached is a pic of mine: Geoff Wood, Bev Kirk & Helmut Bakitus, NIDA, Sep 1965. Thanks again for the opportunity. Hope to be there for our 70th.'

Geoff Wood, Bev Kirk & Helmut Bakitus

Geoff Wood, Bev Kirk and Helmut Bakitus at NIDA,1965

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