Elevate your directing career through authentic learning

Andrea Simpson

Want to broaden your directorial perspective and take your critical thinking to the next level? A Masters of Arts at WAAPA is what you have been searching for.
Elevate your directing career through authentic learning

Image: Gadot's Clinic. Photo (c) C Sims.

Are you looking to expand your directorial practice through elevated examination and first-hand experience? Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) is now taking applications for its Masters of Arts: Performing Arts, Directing and Theatre-Making Stream. The MA is a two-year, full-time Masters by Research program for students who have completed an undergraduate degree in the arts.

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‘The great thing about having a Masters is that it’s really expected if you do any kind of international work in the States or England – if you travel and work they’re all asking for a Masters Degree,’ explained Andrew Lewis, Associate Dean, Performance and an Associate Professor at WAAPA.  

Lewis spoke to ArtsHub from Canada, where he is currently working on a project. He said that undertaking a Masters Degree at WAAPA not only elevates your international reputation but also enables students to critically think about the world they live in, and what they want to express to the world. 'We take you into other worlds such as philosophy – essentially a higher degree of thinking.’

Learn more about the Masters of Arts:  Performing Arts, Directing and Theatre-Making Stream

Reflecting on her Masters journey at WAAPA, current student Julia Jarel said the course’s teaching methods allowed her to explore her craft in detail while also providing opportunities to work with other disciplines.

‘The director’s course at WAAPA has had a profound effect on me, professionally and personally, academically and practically. It has underpinned my previous and ongoing experience as a director with an enriching base of profound historic and contemporary knowledge and ideas,' she told ArtsHub.

‘It has also offered numerous practical opportunities to develop and expand my directorial skill base by providing opportunities to meet and work with a vast array of other directors and theatre professionals in authentic, collaborative settings.’

As a WAAPA Masters student, you have access to all courses in the undergraduate level, Lewis explained.

‘You could work into the Acting Program, or the Music Theatre Program and the Dance Programs,' he said.

Such cross-collaboration allows students to work with each other, strengthening industry relationships and encouraging positive exchange. ‘So you may direct a play with the acting students who are doing an undergraduate degree,’ Lewis said.

Critical thinking fused with practical experience

‘What we try to do at WAAPA is something called “authentic learning,” and that is simulating real life situations. Encountering what you would in theatre, television, radio, broadcasting or film. We have got theatre studios, sound stages, broadcasting units, sound suits and WAAPA have simulated industry practice as much as we can,’ said Lewis.

Industry professionals such as Lewis often work as sessional teachers. This allows WAAPA staff to maintain a thriving career in the arts industry while simultaneously allowing them to impart their tried and tested wisdom to their students.

‘We allow students to be creative and take risks without falling over, because they don’t have to appease a client, or work for a network. But we still have deadlines and challenges which is great for their learning. So we have created an environment where they are safe enough to play and be creative and take risks – without the pressure of having to deliver to a real contract,’ said Lewis.

Former Directing graduate, Will O'Mahony, said: 'The directing course at WAAPA gave me the best possible blend of theory and practice. Supported by world class staff, having access to the rehearsal rooms of acclaimed visiting international artists, and being handed the responsibility to direct some of the country's most promising young actors put me in a great position to attack the professional industry with confidence.'

Begin your authentic learning journey at WAAPA. To learn more about the Masters of Arts: Performing Arts Directing and Theatre-Making Stream visit: www.ecu.edu.au/degrees/courses/master-of-arts-performing-arts  

About the author

Andrea Simpson is an ArtsHub staff writer.

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