This week marks the launch of Griffith University’s new Bachelor of Acting, and the first intake of students can’t wait to get started.
Peter Irankunda said he was “head over heels” about being accepted into the course.
“To think that I get to spend the next three years studying acting gets me excited,” he said.
“I love telling stories and the whole idea of disappearing into a different role and a different world.”
The aspiring actor has a remarkable story of his own.
After his parents fled war-torn Rwanda and Burundi, Peter was born in a refugee camp in Tanzania, and spent several years in Malawi before making it to Australia at the age of nine.
“Because of the civil war, we were always on the move when I was a kid,” he said.
“There was Mum and Dad and seven of us kids and we eventually made it to Australia as refugees.
“It was tough at first. I only spoke a little bit of English, and I had a lot of catching up to do at school.
“Sometimes it seemed impossible, but my Mum and Dad were really keen for me to do well.”
Peter fell in love with drama at high school, and was a member of Queensland Theatre’s Logan Youth Ensemble where he got the chance to try his hand at acting, singing and dancing. As part of the ensemble’s annual showcase, he was mentored by Claire Christian – a writer, director and Griffith Education alumnus.
“Claire taught me so much about acting and the arts, she was amazing and really pointed me in the right direction.”
After graduating from the Bachelor of Acting, Peter hopes to carve out a career in the theatre.
“I love doing live theatre – you get the feeling that its life and death up there on stage, ” he said.
“I think the nerves fuel your performance and push you to take risks and connect with the audience.”
Sydneysider Matilda Simmons (pictured left) is relocating to Brisbane to join the Bachelor of Acting program.
“I’m leaving home to come up here and do the course, so it will be a real journey for me,” she said.
“I’m just so excited to have been accepted.”
Matilda was a born performer, participating in dance, singing and drama productions since she could walk.
The aspiring actor has also appeared in supporting roles in several Aussie feature films and short films.
“It was a great taste of being in the industry, and it made me even more determined to pursue it professionally.”
British actor, director, writer and educator Jacqui Somerville will head up the new program at the Queensland Conservatorium.
Ms Somerville has worked at a host of prestigious theatre companies in the UK, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Donmar Warehouse.
She said it was exciting to launch a new degree.
“The Queensland Conservatorium is at the cutting edge of performing arts education in Australia,” she said.
“We had a large number of applicants, and I was so impressed with their amazing talent and energy.
“It feels very exciting to build the course from the ground up.”