Information for parents of young people considering study with CADA
Parents of young people hoping for a career in the performing arts often have many questions - and rightly so! This page is designed to address some of those concerns.
Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art (RTO 40859) is Canberra's leading education provider in the performing arts. It is the only school offering accredited professional actor training in the Australian Capital Territory. All our qualifications are nationally recognised and Austudy, Youth Allowance and other government benefits are available to eligible applicants.
Our trainers are all professional actors, directors, writers, vocalists, producers, and choreographers who are both committed to their craft and dedicated to the art of teaching. They themselves have attended some of the most prestigious training academies and bring that knowledge to our students in Canberra. Some have worked internationally in places like Los Angeles and New York, and from time to time we have guest speakers come to share their experiences with the students, in additional to the usual classes.
Our ethos is one of nurturing and caring for our students. We believe that creativity flourishes in a context where students are allowed to play, experiment, and make mistakes. Our style of learning is workshop-based: students spend much of their time working through activities, trying new skills, revising their first attempts, and learning to incorporate feedback from their tutor or director. We are very aware that each student is a "work-in-progress"; each student has different aspirations and dreams, and each student has their own individual identity to discover as an artist. Many students come to us in a formative stage in their lives and we are very aware that that brings with it many challenges. We aim to provide an educational journey which allows students to grow as individuals as well as artists. Many of the great texts they study from the history of theatre and film - whether it's Shakespeare or the likes of Tarantino - open them to discussion about some of the key themes of life: gender relations, hope, death, power, redemption, values, sacrifice, and so many other deeply human concepts. Actor training is a huge learning curve both personally and professionally. For this reason, time spent in actor training is never wasted. Whether or not a CADA student goes on to become a professional actor, the student of acting learns skills for life. Creative thinking skills, team skills, communication skills, and a whole range of other workplace skills come into play during the study of drama.
If my child does one of your courses, will he/she be able to get a job?
As with every industry, if you want a job in the entertainment industry, you have to apply for one. The difference between our industry and some others is that an actor needs to apply more often! An actor's life is project-based: actors move from project to project - and a smart actor will have their next job lined up before they've finished their current one. Many actors and musical theatre performers gain employment by auditioning for roles; others make their own work by developing their own shows, films, and webisodes; others have an agent to broker work for them. Our training aims to equip graduates to perform the skilled work of an actor - in other words, to apply for jobs. It also gives them insight into "the business of acting" - a number of subjects prepare them to be business people as well as artists. In our world today, many performers are freelancers, so they need not just performance skills, but also business nous, if they are to succeed.
Is there any job security?
There are parts of the entertainment industry which offer job security. A musical theatre role which runs for two years represents job security. A regular role in a TV show can provide seasonal employment for a number of years. A well paying film role - and even a well-paying TV commercial - can provide a solid income for many months. But the reality is that many actors act and have another part-time job on the side. While they're starting out, performers need to be realistic and prepare themselves to build a career - starting with smaller jobs, and building to larger ones, on a project-to-project basis. It's also worth mentioning that the industry is changing. An increasing number of performers are making solid incomes online by creating their own web series. We are yet to see where this will go in the future. The opportunities for actors are increasing - what with the explosion of the internet, new technologies, and even things like Netflix which allow for greater distribution of content around the world at a faster rate.
My child only wants to be an actor and can think of nothing else. I'm just not sure it's the right career for them. What do I do?
We believe training is important for aspiring actors. In a competitive marketplace, training gives them the edge over those trying to make it on their own. If you have a child keen to pursue a career as a performer, we recommend you start with the 10197NAT Certificate IV in Acting for Stage and Screen. If studied full-time, this course runs for one semester. It's not a long investment in terms of time - but it's long enough to allow people to explore the craft of acting and test whether the profession is for them. We find that this course is a great 'sifter' - some students graduate feeling like they've achieved what they wanted to achieve, and are happy with that, while others who have a particular aptitude know they want to take it further. Some do more training afterwards, and go on to complete the 10295NAT Advanced Diploma of Performance.
If singing and dance is your child's forte, the CUA40513 Certificate IV in Musical Theatre runs over a six-month period, and in 2018 includes a trip to London to help students understand what they are aspiring to if they want to move into this field professionally. This course is a great way for students to immerse themselves in their art form, engage in an artistic community, and again, test their mettle and suitability for the profession. For some students the Diploma is a stepping stone to further study at university level at other institutions, while some go on to the Advanced Diploma at CADA. The Diploma is also a great way to spend a gap year and get a qualification at the same time! Other graduates go and make their own work, or work directly in the industry after graduation.
Some parents doubt the value of acting as a profession and encourage their child to do a "back-up plan" first. It's worth mentioning that we have many, many students come to us in their mid-twenties... and sometime thirties... and sometimes even forties and fifties... and one in their seventies... saying they wished they had done acting first rather than followed the path their parents suggested. There are some advantages to beginning as an actor young - when you have few family responsibilities you can focus on building a career and getting established while managing a lifestyle which is fluid and changeable. These days, however, it's not uncommon for people to retrain and enter new careers at any age. Needless to say, a back-up plan can always be done later - when a back-up is actually needed. Something to think about, at any rate.
For more information, please feel free to contact our office on 1300 908 905, or fill out the form below to receive a full brochure pack.