What inspired you to pursue a career in drama and performing arts education? 

As a teenager I was very outgoing around close friends but painfully shy around everyone else. While my high school did not offer Drama as an elective subject, I was fortunate enough to have English teachers that nurtured my love of performance when studying plays in class. I pursued this love of theatre throughout my HSC years in weekly workshops and performances with the Australian Theatre for Young People. And, of course, I then continued these studies at UNSW with monthly performances, both onstage and behind the scenes. As my confidence grew, I decided to combine my love of storytelling with my belief in education as a means of imparting wisdom and compassion—what better way to a better future …? 

Can you share a memorable moment from your time working in drama and the performing arts? 

In my final year of university, I performed in a two-hour play where my character wore a straitjacket for the majority of the play. Rehearsing for weeks beforehand, my fellow cast members thought it amusing to leave me in the straitjacket during our breaks. While I had never intended to try method acting, this did produce some of my finest performance skills to this day. I truly learnt what it felt like to be totally confined and restricted when all I wanted was the freedom to express myself! 

How do you believe drama and performing arts education benefits students beyond the stage? 

It may sound a cliché, but drama truly does allow students to walk in others’ shoes. The benefit of this is twofold: a greater understanding of what others may be experiencing and an escape from the chaos of the world around us. With music, even if you don’t sing or play an instrument, music paints us a picture of a composer’s mood. We tune into songs to lift us up or to scream along to. And everyone can express themselves through dance—whether it’s to tell a heart-breaking story or simply make us laugh. No matter what sort of a day you’re having, the performing arts is always there to feel our pain or turn it around. 

How do you collaborate with colleagues and professionals in the industry to enhance the learning experience for your students? 

As a drama teacher, I have had to ensure that I continue to seek out and participate in practical workshops. This assists me in improving my own performance skills, but also keeps me on my feet, allowing for greater flexibility in my teaching role as I work with students, guiding their educational journey. I have also maintained and continued to build on relationships with fellow teachers, professional actors and technical crew in order to create stronger connections for the students. We run annual workshops at school, inviting these professionals to work with our students, enhancing their exploration of practical and analytical skills. 

How do you view the significance of creativity in shaping the holistic growth of young learners, and what approaches does your department utilise to nurture it? 

The performing arts call upon our creativity. More often than not, this makes us collaborators. We are taken deeper into our own lives or out of them into the worlds of others. As a result, we think critically, we become more aware of ourselves, we express ourselves, we empathise, we celebrate, we educate, we explore, we observe, we construct, we deconstruct. Calling on creativity can make us rely on teamwork skills. It definitely demands a greater awareness of communication skills, builds self-confidence and equips us for an ever-changing world.  

The performing arts challenge students to listen to each other and to provide constructive feedback. Students are asked to jump up in front of their peers, their parents and the wider community. We celebrate when they fail, when they get back up, and when they succeed. These students are on the road to becoming well-rounded lovers of learning, ready to embrace the opportunities that life will continue to offer.