Putting learning into action

Studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Acting) at JMC Academy means an emphasis on practical classes to maximise student learning.

Although she’s always been keen on drama both in and out of secondary school, Chelsea Edser’s route to JMC Academy as an acting student was not straightforward.

‘After I left school I did responsible things like getting my business certificates and then an opportunity came up to go into a short acting course in Vancouver. So I did that for a bit and then came back right before the pandemic. When I saw this course at JMC, I decided I wanted to give it another shot,’ she tells ArtsHub. 

‘I’d heard of JMC before but I thought it was only in Sydney and Melbourne so when I saw it was opening in Brisbane I thought it was an excellent option.’ 

Following the acting school’s recent launch in Brisbane and Melbourne, Edser spoke about her experience in the first trimester of the course in the Brisbane Campus and what she looked forward to the most while studying.

She has not yet narrowed down her performance ambitions, and her curiosity about the different aspects of the acting craft is well supported by JMC Academy. 

‘We’ve been doing a little bit of everything. We’ve done singing, a lot of breath workouts. We’ve done a bit of movement work. We have yoga classes, and film acting where we get to delve into the emotional work a bit more,’ explains Edser.

‘We are also doing professional practice, which is kind of like learning how to keep ourselves healthy physically and mentally.

‘It’s good that we’re going back to basics, because that also includes unlearning bad habits so you can build yourself up from the base. So when we start doing whatever projects [in the future] we’ve got a stable ground to work on,’ she says.

Edser, 22, transferred from another institution after discovering JMC offered more hands-on experience. 

The undergraduate course is a two-year (six trimesters) pathway designed to immerse students in the world of film, theatre and television. The course offers students a range of skills with which to confidently sustain a career in acting across stage, screen and audio as well as related fields such as game design and animation.

‘I found out that the Academy had more time for practical classes, more class time and working on shows and projects, even from the first few trimesters, whereas in my previous experience studying at other acting schools you had to do a lot of theory and didn’t really get a chance to work on any shows until the end of second year. I wanted to learn by doing,’ she explains.

‘I want to do a bit of everything’ she says enthusiastically. ‘So, screen or stage but I’m also interested in physical theatre – and also gaming, like motion capture stuff. It’s good that the Academy can actually accommodate all of this in case you weren’t sure what you wanted to do.’ 

As an acting student, Edser has the opportunity to perform and collaborate on real life projects in all areas of the creative industries including film, television, gaming, animation and audio.

Not only will she be performing for her classes and assessments but will be integrated into all other student projects as extra curricular. Upon finishing her Bachelor of Creative Arts (Acting) Edser will leave with a fully realised CV and experience in all areas of performance, poised to enter the industry.

She agrees that in the arts, having a broad skillset across various media is beneficial when it comes to landing future job opportunities. And although Edser hasn’t ruled out finding an overseas job after graduation, she is confident about her chances of working on home turf. 

‘I think Australia is definitely on the up and up industry wise, especially in the last few years.’ 

Edser recommends prospective students attend open days at the tertiary institutions they’re curious about, because ‘it’s always good to talk to the teachers and current students beforehand, to get an overview. You do have to audition for the acting course but I’d say just give it a crack. Because even if you don’t get in, they always give you some feedback; it’s always a learning experience regardless of the outcome.’

Currently, Edser is looking forward to the big final showcase that her class will perform at the end of the year. ‘But we work on putting on a play or a show almost every trimester. They get bigger as we go on. It’s nice to put all this learning into action,’ she concluded.

Learn more about JMC Academy’s acting courses.

Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She's the outgoing books editor of The Big issue. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on