'Actor training will always be hard but it shouldn’t be this hard'

Diana Carroll

The new-look Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting) at Adelaide College of the Arts has been restructured to provide more time for reflection and less stress.
'Actor training will always be hard but it shouldn’t be this hard'

Image: The Skin of our Teeth, Adelaide College of the Arts Acting Production. Photo credit: Sofia Calado.

Ensuring acting students aren’t overwhelmed in their first year or two of professional training, and making sure they have time for reflection and play alongside learning the fundamentals of their craft, have resulted in an exciting shake-up of the Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting) at TAFE SA’s Adelaide College of the Arts.

The three-year diploma has been radically restructured for 2019 and beyond, giving students the opportunity for greater focus, more flexibility, and enhancing their study-work-life balance.


Terence Crawford, Head of Acting at Adelaide College of the Arts, said the new structure was developed in response to the pressures and realities of the age, and the difficulties many people experience training in the intense way that acting demands.

‘Actor-training should and will always be hard, if it's fair dinkum, but I looked at our students and decided, it shouldn't be this hard,’ he explained.

Even though it’s a full-time study load, the on-campus time commitment for new students is only three days a week. This means a reduced financial burden; more time to earn money; more time for family and friends; and more time to breathe and reflect on the work of the course.

‘The commitment of three days a week in First Year allows students more time for reflection. It also means students can balance their part-time jobs – to make money to continue studying – without losing sleeping hours,’ Crawford said.

Learn more about the Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting)

As students progress through the five semesters, the intensity gradually increases, building up to four days a week in Second Year and five in Third Year. Most students will complete the course in 30 months or two-and-a half years.

Each year is dedicated to specific skills and learning outcomes. First Year focuses on personal preparation and process and is a rigorous and enlightening journey of discovery. In Second Year, the focus shifts to performance development and consolidation. With foundation skills in place, this is a time for students to explore and experience the demands and the power of live performance. The final year focuses on industry alignment and refinement, with the last six months dedicated to knowledge of, and initiation into, the professional arena. All the course tutors are industry professionals with current, real-world industry experience.

‘Everyone who works in the course is a working professional actor and/or director,’ said Crawford.

Image: The Skin of our Teeth, Adelaide College of the Arts Acting Production. Photo credit: Sofia Calado.

The comprehensive course covers the fundamentals of all facets of performance from acting and singing to physical performance and screen techniques across a huge range of core subjects. Students must complete 30 core units to graduate. The most intensive courses are devoted to voice work and the fundamentals of acting technique. Shorter courses include a study of the commedia mask and presenting an animal study.

The 2019 intake will be limited to just 20 students, ensuring that all students have optimal opportunities for learning and development.

The Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting) is based at the Adelaide College of the Arts, a purpose-built TAFE SA arts education complex located in the centre of the city. The College specialises in Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Design including acting, dance, film and television, music, production and design, visual art and crafts, and photography.

All aspiring actors are encouraged to apply, even if their school results are not the best.

‘We are always interested in an applicant's achievements at school more generally than just their ATAR score,’ says Crawford. ‘We like to look for their “native intelligence” beyond their school results.’

Entry to the Advanced Diploma is by audition and previous acting experience is not a prerequisite. Applicants need to prepare two monologues to present at the audition, one of them a Shakespearean piece. There are no fees to apply and audition. Once accepted, students may be eligible for a fee subsidy through the State Government’s WorkReady initiative.

Applications are now open for 2019, with auditions on 24 -25 January 2019. For more information, go to www.tafesa.edu.au

About the author

Dr Diana Carroll is a writer, speaker, and reviewer based in Adelaide. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines including the SMH, the Oz, Woman's Day, and B&T. Writing about the arts is one of her great passions.