NIDA MFA Directing and Design students embark on new Artistic Residency program with Russian University of Theatre Arts
Photo: Madeleine Humphreys and Tyler Hawkins
Next week, NIDA will commence a new three-year partnership with the Russian University of Theatre Arts (GITIS) – Russia’s foremost theatrical school – as two of our Master of Fine Arts (MFA) students head to Moscow for a month-long Artistic Residency.
The initial arrangement is for two MFA students to attend a one-month Artistic Residency in Moscow each year and for a teaching staff member from GITIS to visit NIDA and direct a play in one of our Student Production seasons.
With a long-standing partnership already in place with Berlin’s Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts, which uses an acting and directing methodology based on the Russian director Stanislavski’s approach known as Active Analysis, the latest partnership with GITIS broadens NIDA’s international collaborations and expands our connections with Active Analysis.
Established by NIDA’s Deputy Director/CEO and Head of Design for Performance, Michael Scott-Mitchell, and Deputy Director, Graduate Studies and Head of Directing, Dr Egil Kipste, the partnership further validates NIDA as a leading educator in the performing arts, not just within Australia, but on the global front as well.
‘GITIS is the premier teaching academy for the performing arts in Russia, so it’s a wonderful opportunity,’ commented Michael. ‘Our students will be able to learn techniques and approaches from another country’s leading theatre institution. In addition, one teaching staff member from GITIS will direct a show in the 2018 season of NIDA’s play productions. Essentially, it’s a trading of ideas and techniques.’
The inaugural Artistic Residency students from NIDA are Madeleine Humphreys (Directing) and Tyler Hawkins (Design for Performance), who will be in Moscow between March and April. ‘Immersing yourself in another theatre culture ensures that you grow as an artist,’ commented Madeleine, who is directing Salem, one of NIDA’s major play productions this June – an unheard-of accomplishment for a director still in her studies.
Photos: (L) NIDA 2016 production of The Yellow Wallpaper, adapted and directed by Madeleine Humphreys; (R) NIDA 2016 production of The Olympians, set/props/costumes designed by Tyler Hawkins
‘With its rich culture of the arts, history and alumni, Russia will definitely allow me take a new perspective on directing and look at my skill-set in a different way. The program will also allow me to come up with new and interesting ways to create theatre, and hopefully provide me with new inspiration. And I think that it is my responsibility to come back and share with other students what I’ve learned artistically.’
Tyler added, ‘I draw inspiration from experiencing other cultures and how they create theatre. Seeing what is ‘unique’ in other theatre cultures interrogates my own practice. I’m not daunted by working in Russian. Like dance, I feel theatre is a universal language.’
Moreover, the partnership demonstrates NIDA’s commitment to collaborating with international organisations, as well as an increasing awareness of our courses overseas.
‘There’s a growing interest in NIDA from overseas,’ added Michael. ‘Not only in the type of work we’re carrying out, but also the quality of our work here. It’s definitely an incredible opportunity for Egil and myself to observe GITIS’ practices, and also for the students to undertake an extraordinary one-month immersion in Russian theatre practice’.
‘In terms of pedagogy and in developing curriculum, it is extremely important to see what other schools are doing. I just spent a week at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, which was creatively stimulating. You very quickly realise that while every performing arts institution is different, there are commonalities in the pedagogical approach.’