I just returned from directing Waiting for Godot at one of Australia’s leading actor training programs, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
Under the astute leadership of Mark Radvan, QUT provides on-camera training unlike any other I’ve encountered. Student actors learn the ins and outs of performing for the camera from industry professionals possessing a wealth of experience directing and/or casting for film and television. As a result, students finish the program skilled in the language and practice of on-camera acting, a goal exemplified by custom-made “show reels” documenting their work. During my residency, we were visited by one of Sydney’s premiere talent agents who confirmed that QUT actors were especially accomplished in this area of their craft.
While QUT’s on-camera training is unquestionably excellent, their offerings in voice and movement for the stage are somewhat underdeveloped.
Given the limitations of time and scheduling that any acting program undergoes, it stands to reason that resources in one element of training might be compromised while focusing on another. My own experience at the now defunct MFA program at the University of Delaware demonstrated as much, insofar as we were exclusively trained for classical theatre without any time dedicated to on-camera acting. After graduation I found it very difficult to act in film and television because I simply wasn’t prepared for it. Are training actors for the stage—especially the classical stageand preparing them to work in film and television pedagogically antithetical? Is there a way to do both effectively? How does the limitation of resources such as time and money factor into such a proposition?