How a pandemic pivot helped this actor gain a Rising Star scholarship

Tasmanian actor Noah Sargent, 21, explains how thinking outside the box when theatres were closed helped inspire his application to The National Drama School.

Like many artists, the advent of the pandemic forced young Tasmanian actor Noah Sargent to consider alternative career paths and new ways of expressing himself.

‘In 2020, when there was no theatre, I started writing and then moved into directing,’ he tells ArtsHub.

‘I started an independent theatre company with two talented theatre-makers in Tasmania, two dear friends of mine, to provide opportunities for young Tasmanians. And because those opportunities aren’t there [in Tasmania], I knew I wanted to come to the mainland to study and further my skill set.’

Having considered his options, Sargent settled on The National Drama School, Australia’s longest-established vocational training organisation for acting.

‘The National caught my attention because it operates within a working theatre, and so I get to be in a theatre every day and learning about so many different aspects of theatre-making,’ Sargent says.

Now a first year student in The National Drama School’s Advanced Diploma of Acting course, Sargent is excited by the small class sizes at the school, and also by The National’s focus on ensemble work.

‘It’s very cohesive and, I think even really from Orientation Day, I felt that there was always going to be a strong connection between us all, and that has definitely proven to be the case,’ he explains.

With peers attending from across the country, Sargent has been able to observe and learn from the range of styles and influences that each student brings to their classes, as well as from their industry-experienced teachers. He’s also enthusiastic about the additional skills The National is equipping him with.

‘I think one of the big things is the fact that, despite this being an acting course primarily, I’ve also learned a lot about directing, technical work and writing, so I’m able to grow in various senses beyond just the acting training.’

At the start of 2023, a new partnership between The National Drama School and CMC Talent Management resulted in the creation of the Rising Star Scholarship – Sargent is the inaugural recipient. Established in 2014, Prahran-based CMC Talent Management represents stars of stage, screen, media and broadcast, including National Drama School Alumni Tosh Greenslade and generous donor to the School, Todd McKenney.

‘Receiving the Scholarship was a surprise, but I wasn’t aware when I applied for it that it was the first year it was being run. And that was the biggest surprise of all, being the first person. It’s an honour,’ Sargent says.

Sargent relocated to the mainland at the start of the year and says he couldn’t have done so without the financial support provided by the Scholarship.

‘Realistically, I wouldn’t be here without it, financially speaking, given [the costs of] moving to a different state. So, it provided me with the fantastic opportunity to come here by covering the first year’s fees in their entirety,’ he explains.

Sargent urges his peers to consider applying to The National when the 2024 auditions are held later this year.

‘I know I was very nervous about trying and almost talked myself out of auditioning for The National, so absolutely, just go for it. Because even if you don’t get in, you’re bound to learn a lot from your audition,’ he says.

‘And, also, just come in with a sense of play and a willingness to learn … because if you’re open to learning, you will learn so much while you’re here. It is truly an amazing opportunity. If you want to go into this line of work, then you should absolutely be looking into studying at The National.’

Auditions for The National Drama School’s 2024 Advanced Diploma of Acting open in July 2023. Visit The National’s website for application details and information about the CMC Talent Management Rising Star Scholarship.

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts