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From Hamlet to a bubble show: a day in the life of NIDA in Adelaide

From high-tech to low, from opera to the fringe, this year's Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival tour saw nearly 80 NIDA staff and students immersed in music, opera, dance and film events over nine intense days.

NIDA TTSM students on the set of Memorial with Director Chris Drummond

The Memorial production with Helen Morse

Photo: NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts (TTSM) students (above) discuss Memorial (below) with Director Chris Drummond. (Photo Kylie Black, Shane Reid)

In her first visit to an arts or fringe festival, NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts (Technical Theatre and Stage Management) student Ayah Tayeh is fired up after seeing 35 shows over nine intense days and the vibrance of Adelaide in festival season.

‘I loved Adelaide,’ said Ayah. ‘The weather is so good! And everything is on a grid and you can easily get where you want to go.’

A total of 78 staff and students were immersed in music, opera, dance and film events during the Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival. The tour included second-year students from NIDA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Technical Theatre and Stage Management, Acting and Design) and Master of Fine Arts (Directing and Writing for Performance) courses.

‘We watched Hamlet, the Opera, and then went to a cabaret-style Bubble Show. We saw magic shows, traditional theatre, Shakespeare and one-person shows,’ said Ayah.

‘In one play called Séance, we were put into a dark shipping container with headphones with voices recorded binaurally, which is essentially 360-degree, hyper-realistic sound. In another play, 19 Weeks, the audience sat in a pool and watched the play which was a very personal and heart-felt story and was one of the pieces that really affected me emotionally.’

‘Some productions were really low tech and others like Ivan Van Hove’s adaptation of Shakespeare in Kings of War had extreme budgets with live on-stage cameras feeding LED screens,’ she said. ‘We learnt that shows with just two speakers and five lights can be some of the most powerful you can see. Not that you don’t need technology, but it helped me realise that as a technical practitioner the choices that I make in terms of what goes on stage has to have a purpose that the audience will feel. We are here to serve the story-telling in whatever way we can.’

NIDA Acting Director Undergraduate Studies and Head of Technical Theatre and Stage Management Graham Henstock supervised the TTSM students on the tour. ‘We ran classes every morning to discuss and engage with the varying range of theatre work the students had seen, and to increase their skills as theatre practitioners and makers,’ said Graham.

The students also attended Q and A sessions, one of which was with Director Chris Drummond on the set of Memorial, a contemporary poetic masterpiece by Alice Owald. A massive cast of volunteers and actors were choreographed by NIDA alumni Yaron Lifshitz (Directing 1991), renowned for his work with large numbers of people on stage.

‘We were so busy, we were out all the time and were never home before midnight’ said Ayah. ‘We loved the huge range of food from the Festival food trucks. Oh, and Adelaide coffee is great.’

For information about all NIDA courses and how to apply:

For information about the 2018 Adelaide Festival:

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