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NIDA and China’s Central Academy of Drama look to collaborate

A delegation from the Central Academy of Drama (CAD), Beijing, one of the most elite institutions in China, visited NIDA, Australia’s most prestigious drama school.

China’s ‘double first-class’ Central Academy of Drama sends delegation to NIDA

On Friday 19 July, a delegation from the Central Academy of Drama (CAD), Beijing, one of the most elite institutions in China, visited the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Australia’s most prestigious drama school.

Popularly known as the ‘home to Chinese superstars’, CAD has been selected as part of China’s construction plan of world first-class disciplines: it is a Chinese Ministry of Education ‘Double First Class Discipline’ University.

The delegation comprised seven academic staff from CAD’s Department of Theatre Management: Professor Sun Liang, Professor Song Zhen, Associate Professor Guo Qi, Associate Professor Ma Yanping, Associate Professor He Qinqin, Associate Professor Ma Zhenzhu and Lecturer Guo Pei.

Back row, L–R: Peter Savage, NIDA Senior Lecturer Technology and Production; Associate Professor Ma Zhenzhu; Director, NIDA Centre for Technology, Production and Management, Graham Henstock; Executive Director NIDA Conservatoire, Dr Amanda Morris; Associate Professor He Qinqin; Melanie Dyer, NIDA Head of Stage Management, Senior Lecturer; Associate Professor Ma Yanping. Front row, L–R: Guo Pei, Lecturer; Professor Song Zhen; Professor Sun Liang; Di Misirdjieff, NIDA Producer; Associate Professor Guo Qi.

They were met by NIDA’s Executive Director Conservatoire, Dr Amanda Morris; Operations Manager Conservatoire, Charlene Griffiths; Director Centre for Technology, Production and Management Graham Henstock; Producer Diane Misirdjieff; Head of Stage Management and Senior Lecturer Melanie Dyer; and Senior Lecturer Technology and Production Peter Savage.

CAD's Professor Song Zhen and Lecturer Guo Pei with NIDA Senior Lecturer Peter Savage in NIDA Properties and Objects Department corridor

The two academic teams found great creative potential both in their differences and similarities. Discussion focused on opportunities for collaboration between staff, shared information on approaches to teaching and theatre production processes.

A highlight of the visit included Professor Song Zhen’s demonstration of his work in the field of motion detection and the performing arts.

In turn, Professor Sun Liang took great interest in NIDA’s theatrical production seasons, as CAD does not showcase their theatrical productions in seasons.

CAD and NIDA academic staff in NIDA's outdoor performance space, the Atrium.

Another point of creative contrast is that for NIDA’s student production seasons, the whole school works together. Students from each discipline take on their own specialist roles in a learning environment that mimics the theatre/film/television industry.

This was of great interest to the delegation as it is not possible for their 12 departments to collaborate in this way due to scale – CAD has 2,000 students, and stages 50 theatrical productions annually, with only the stage management students working across all shows.

Producer Di Misirdjieff led a tour through NIDA, pictured here in NIDA's scenic construction workshop.

‘NIDA is a very, very old friend of Central Academy of Drama. We want to continue our friendship and collaboration,’ said Associate Professor Guo Qi, who is also Programme Coordinator of Wuzhen Theatre Festival.

Dr Amanda Morris, NIDA’s Executive Director Conservatoire, agreed: ‘We see this visit as marking NIDA’s ongoing interest in international collaboration with the Central Academy of Drama, with exciting opportunities for staff exchanges and shared projects in creative and cultural leadership.’

CAD delegation with NIDA staff in Costume Department

L–R: Associate Professor Ma Zhenzhu; Lecturer Guo Pei; Associate Professor He Qinqin; Professor Sun Liang; Associate Professor Guo Qi; NIDA Operations Manager Conservatoire, Charlene Griffiths; Executive Director NIDA Conservatoire, Dr Amanda Morris; NIDA Producer Di Misirdjieff; Professor Song Zhen; Associate Professor Ma Yanping.

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