Flynn Barnard was just nine years old when he first developed the acting bug. “My fifth grade teacher saw that I was passionate about it and recommended that I apply for the Arts Unit State Drama Ensemble, a weekly program that runs from fifth grade through twelfth grade,” he explained.
A branch of the NSW Department of Education, the Arts Unit’s initial training helped focus Barnard’s passion for theatre, as well as broaden his personal horizons.
“I was meeting children from places I had never been, from regional New South Wales and the inner city suburbs of Sydney; sharing stories and learning about the world in a way that I had never had access to before at this point in my life, and learning all about ensemble building and physical theater, experiences that were really fundamental to me,” he said.
Barnard grew and developed in short courses for children at the NIDA Open. Now an adult, Barnard is set to launch his acting career from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), as he enters his final year of the Acting Bachelor of Fine Arts.
“Comfort and confidence are key when performing in front of a live audience. Being exposed at a young age to environments where I was performing in front of strangers really helped me develop those critical skills,” Barnard said.
“In a short course, you can only meet and get to know the people you are learning with for a day or two at a time. Having these short-term relationships increases the experience of exposing yourself in a performative sense and really strengthens those working muscles, I think.
Providing valuable training in a compact form, the short courses represented an important opportunity for him to hone the skills necessary for an acting career.
“A lot of my friends from those classes went into writing or directing and filmmaking…”
At NIDA Open, adult courses are offered at a level appropriate for each individual’s needs, from entry level for beginners to foundational courses suitable for more experienced practitioners, and applied techniques for those who have already accumulated a considerable set of skills. Short courses can also be studied online for those whose geographic distance might otherwise be a barrier.
The relationships Barnard developed in the many courses he attended helped him develop a valuable network of contacts and friends throughout the industry.
“A lot of my friends from those classes have moved on to writing or directing and filmmaking and we keep in touch. It was just a really good way to connect with like-minded, passionate young people who were ready to pursue their dreams at such an early stage in their lives,” he said.
As well as helping participants develop their skill base, the short courses also allow participants to sample a range of performance disciplines, helping future practitioners identify the area of practice that best suits them.
“One of the best things I’ve learned from taking short courses is that the safe environment these courses provide is a fantastic playground to work in when you step out of your comfort zone,” said Barnard said.
Learn more about study a short course at NIDA.