Calling for theatre students with bold ideas

Do you have the passion and courage to be a changemaker? The VCA’s Master of Theatre courses are encouraging students to transform theatre.

Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Master of Theatre courses are inviting applications for the 2024 intake, encouraging next generation theatremakers and theatre students to hone their craft, but also to consider the big picture.

Chris Mead, Head of Theatre at the VCA and Course Coordinator of the Master of Theatre (Dramaturgy) tells ArtsHub: ‘VCA’s Master of Theatre courses are right at that collision point between craft and responsibility, getting students to consider “What’s the point of theatre?”

‘What we try and do in the course is to have a good historical overview, but also turn the students’ attention to what are the key things you need to know if you’re in the industry. But even going beyond that, what do you need to know if you’re going to transform the industry.’

Mead continues: ‘What I think is remarkable about our courses is how committed the teachers are to the students. By that I mean no matter how ferocious the topic, how outrageous the play, the staff will look to incorporate it and make it part of the discussion about the work itself.

‘Theatre, in many ways, is looking at the present while also reaching towards the future.’

The VCA Master of Theatre courses are flexible enough to cater for those who may have a full-time job, while working with students from all walks of life – those in their mid-20s up to people in their 70s. What they bring is ‘a huge diversity of opinion when it comes to what theatre can be,’ adds Mead.

Collaboration sits at the core of the philosophy of the VCA, which is located in the heart of Melbourne’s Southbank arts precinct. Students will be working with fellow classmates and those across film, television and dance, as well as having access to an expansive professional network.

The strongest skills and biggest opportunities

Mead says the VCA helps students bring their ideas to life on the stage. ‘I’ve got a writer friend who reckons that there are five key things [necessary] when you’re making work: what you can imagine, what you can research, what you know of the form already, what you’ve observed and what you’ve lived. The greatest task for us [at the VCA] is working with artists to bring that all together and make a staggering, brilliant, heartbreaking, beautiful, funny piece of theatre.’

When asked where the biggest opportunities for emerging theatre professionals lie, Mead says, ‘We know what the industry looks like now, but what’s really exciting is that they can change it. We try to give them a sense of what’s out there, but also the gaps, for them to build a work or even a company that can address these, something that doesn’t quite exist here yet.

‘One of the things people feel fairly nervous about is failure, but this is the place to do that. It’s an opportunity to experiment and build networks.

‘We want them to dream big – the world needs it,’ concludes Mead.

A panel discussion, ‘Directing, Writing and Dramaturgy for the Contemporary Theatre: A Conversation’ will be held on 9 October 6.30-8.30pm at the University of Melbourne; free and open to all, registrations required.

Applications to study the VCA’s Master of Theatre (Dramaturgy), Master of Theatre (Writing) and Master of Theatre (Directing) are now open for intake in 2024 and close 31 October 2023.

Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. She took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs and was the project manager of ArtsHub’s diverse writers initiative, Amplify Collective. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram @lleizy_