'There's an intensity and level of creativity here that drives everyone'
Each month we're catching up with a different Head of Department at NIDA, to show you the artist behind the creative leader. September is the turn of NIDA Director of Vocational Studies Mark Gaal, who leads the musical theatre, stage and screen performance, make-up and technical diplomas.
Photo: NIDA Director of Vocational Studies Mark Gaal (Photo Maja Baska)
Each month we're catching up with a different Head of Department at NIDA, to show you the artist behind the creative leader. September is the turn of NIDA Director of Vocational Studies Mark Gaal, who leads the Diplomas of Live Production and Technical Services, Musical Theatre, Specialist Make-up Services and Stage and Screen Performance.
Mark is a leading Australian director, a graduate from both the University of Queensland and NIDA, who has directed of plays, musicals and operas in Australia and overseas for Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir St Theatre, Really Useful Company, Opera Australia and Pinchgut Opera among others. He has been on staff at NIDA for over 10 years.
Q: Why do you work here? What is it about NIDA that you love?
What I love about NIDA is the students of course. I understand their passion, and I want them to be ready for the opportunities ahead of them.
Q: Is there a typical day at NIDA for you?
Are you kidding? There’s nothing typical about any day at NIDA, but I think it’s that intensity and level of creativity that keeps staff and students engaged.
Q: What big projects and collaborations are in the pipeline for your students this year?
Collaborations are a way of putting into practice and extending what’s learnt in the classroom. This year we’re excited again to collaborate with the BFA and MFA programs with the development of workshops for Starstruck the Stage Musical.
Q: Do you have a NIDA ‘proud moment’?
The entertainment industry has changed a lot in the last 5 years and is continuing to change rapidly. The way people consume their entertainment and arts has diversified. What I am proud of is that NIDA is keeping up with that pace – courses and course content have grown to allow graduates to enter the industry as it is, and to adapt to and shape the changes that are happening.
Q: Do you have a personal artistic project you’re currently working?
I have an ongoing relationship with Pinchgut Opera, both as a guest artist and as a Board member. Next year I’ll be directing Vivaldi’s Farnace with a cast of international performers, the Orchestra of the Antipodes, and with a production team that includes a significant number of NIDA graduates. It’s terrific to be able to keep my hand in commercial theatre and to embrace the challenge of meeting, hopefully surpassing, the audience’s expectations.
Q: Where do you go for ideas and inspiration?
I think it’s good to get out, and away from the theatre to be stimulated by a whole range of experiences. There’s so much that’s astonishing in galleries like the White Rabbit and the MCA and Sydney Chamber Opera is doing some terrific original work.
Photo: Mark Gaal as a student at NIDA.
Applications are open for all of NIDA's Diploma courses in 2019. Apply here.