Student actors from the Queensland Conservatorium are enjoying a backstage pass to the industry, thanks to a collaboration with Queensland’s state theatre company.
The third-year Bachelor of Acting students are working with Queensland Theatre (QT) Artistic Director Lee Lewis on The Laramie Project, an award-winning play about the aftermath of the 1998 murder of gay university student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.
The play draws on hundreds of interviews with locals and features a small cast portraying more than sixty characters.
Senior acting lecturer Jacqui Somerville said the opportunity was part of a long-standing partnership between the Queensland Conservatorium and QT.
“Finding career pathways for our students is vital, and we have collaborated with Queensland Theatre in the past on table reads and masterclasses, but this is the first time our students have featured in a QT production,” she said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students – to work with the artistic director of the state theatre company is a real coup.”
“They are getting a taste of the professional experience, making industry connections and developing an understanding of what is required to work at this level.”
Acting student Charlie Baz is playing eight characters, which is a mighty challenge for any performer.
He said the Workplace Integrated Learning placement with QT had been the highlight of his studies at Griffith.
“Our exposure to the industry is one of the things I love about this course – we get the chance to work in film and theatre while we’re studying,” he said.
“When we found out we were doing a production with QT, we were astounded.
“Working with Lee Lewis has been amazing – she’s so receptive to everyone in the room and really encourages us all to dig deep.
“This play is so powerful and thought-provoking, it’s a privilege to help bring it to life.”
Fellow student actor Rachel Thomas said the experience had given her the confidence to embrace professional opportunities after graduation.
“I feel like all of us have grown as actors throughout this project, and it has taught me not to be afraid to take risks and say yes to every opportunity that comes my way.”
QT Artistic Director Lee Lewis said she was excited to support the state’s emerging acting talent.
“I love working with student actors – they have an amazing energy and are ready to take every idea and run with it,” she said.
“It’s so important for us to have these connections with training courses. It gives us a chance to talent spot promising young actors, and for the students it’s an opportunity to put their skills into practice in a professional setting.”
The Laramie Project runs from 27 – 30 May at the Diane Cilento Studio, Queensland Theatre.