The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) is Australia's leading centre for education and training in the performing arts. Founded in 1958, NIDA uses a conservatoire model, where students learn through practical experience, working on real productions. NIDA offers Bachelor's, Master's and Vocational degrees in subjects including acting, writing, directing, scenic construction, technical theatre, voice, costume, props, production design and cultural leadership.
NIDA also delivers short courses to thousands of students every year across Australia and internationally. The NIDA Open program is Australia's largest non-profit, performing arts short course program.
NIDA's main campus is based in the Sydney suburb of Kensington, located adjacent to the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and is made up of a range of rehearsal and performance venues.
NIDA receives funding from the Australian Government through the Department of Communications and the Arts, and is a member of the "Australian Roundtable for Arts Training Excellence (Arts8)", an initiative between the national performing arts training organisations and the Australian Government providing training for emerging artists.
NIDA was founded in 1958 as the first professional theatre training school in Australia. The idea of a national theatre training school was initiated by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (AETT) in the mid-1950s. With the support of the then Vice-Chancellor (later Sir) Philip Baxter, NIDA was established in the grounds of the University of New South Wales. Robert Quentin, later Professor of Drama at UNSW, was appointed the inaugural Director.
Teaching began in 1959 and in 1960, the first 23 students graduated with a Diploma in Acting; today, NIDA welcomes over 200 full-time students to the Kensington campus, more than 12,500 NIDA Open participants from across Australia take part in part-time and short classes, and 2,900 clients attend NIDA Corporate's training for professionals each year.
NIDA has always been more than just an acting school. From 1961 it offered both acting and production streams, and in the early 1970s design, technical production and directing streams were introduced. In 1991 NIDA expanded into the study of theatrical crafts – costume, properties, scenery and staging - and over the 2000s developed post-graduate courses in voice, movement studies, production management and playwriting. The current courses in six undergraduate, five post-graduate and four vocational diploma disciplines reflect NIDA's ongoing responsiveness to industry demands.
Entry to NIDA's Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts and Vocational courses is competitive, with more than 1,500 applicants from around the country competing for an annual offering of approximately 185 places across the six undergraduate, five post-graduate and four vocational diploma disciplines.
NIDA's Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting is particularly competitive, with approximately 1,000 applicants per year attempting to secure one of 24 spots in the program.
NIDA is located on Anzac Parade in the Sydney suburb of Kensington, across the road from the University of New South Wales. The campus was first opened in 1987, followed by additional buildings opened in 2001, which were awarded the 2002 Sir John Sulman Medal for public architecture.
The NIDA campus has six professional performance venues , in addition to studios and rehearsal rooms. As the largest of the performance venues at NIDA, the Parade Theatre offers seating for audiences of up to 709 people in its three-tiered, horseshoe-shaped auditorium. The Playhouse is a 155-seat amphitheatre, designed for more intimate productions. NIDA has three smaller black box theatres – the Space, the Studio Theatre and the Reg Grundy Studio – that are frequently adapted to suit different production needs.
The Rodney Seaborn Library is a specialist library for NIDA students, graduates and staff and is also open to the general public by appointment. Created in 1980.
The NIDA Archives collects, organises and preserves archival records created by or relating to NIDA.
The NIDA campus includes rehearsal rooms, multi-media and computer-aided design (CAD) studios, a sound stage, a lighting studio, production workshops, audio-visual facilities, and the Reg Grundy Studio film and television training and production facility.
Graduates from the National Institute of Dramatic Art include:
- Cate Blanchett AC
- Grant Bowler
- Tom Burlinson
- Nathin Butler
- Alex Russell
- Toni Collette
- Rob Collins
- Ryan Corr
- Essie Davis
- Judy Davis
- Andrea Demetriades
- Eamon Farren
- Lewis Fitz-Gerald
- Colin Friels
- Mel Gibson
- Harry Greenwood
- Remy Hii
- Matthew Le Nevez
- Glenda Linscott
- Baz Luhrmann
- Jessica Marais
- Catherine McClements
- Garry McDonald AO
- Jacqueline McKenzie
- Greg McLean
- Heather Mitchell
- Timothy Conigrave
- Bianca Moon
- Toby Leonard Moore
- Robyn Nevin AM
- Matthew Newton
- Bojana Novakovic
- Miranda Otto
- Susie Porter
- Philip Quast
- Richard Roxburgh
- Imara Savage
- Toby Schmitz
- Shari Sebbens
- Hugh Sheridan
- Sarah Snook
- Yael Stone
- Miranda Tapsell
- Michelle Vergara Moore
- Hugo Weaving
- John Wood
- Sam Worthington
- Meyne Wyatt
- Anna Torv
- Zindzi Okenyo
- Gareth Yuen
- Alice Babidge
- Kym Barrett
- Theodore Benton
- Adrian Britnell
- Fiona Crombie, 2019 Academy Award nominee for The Favourite
- Peter England
- Dale Ferguson
- Catherine Martin
- Ralph Myers, Former Artistic Director Belvoir St Theatre
- Jacob Nash, Head of Design for Bangarra Dance Theatre
- Deborah Riley, Emmy Award-winning production designer of Game of Thrones
- Gypsy Taylor
- Gabriela Tylesova
- Michael Wilkinson, 2014 Academy Award Nominee for American Hustle
- Jessica Arthur
- Paul Curran
- Gale Edwards
- Sarah Giles
- Jennifer Kent
- Dane Laffrey
- Lee Lewis
- Greg McLean
- Jonathan Messer
- Tommy Murphy
- Marion Potts
- Sally Riley, Head of Scripted Production for the Australian Broadcasting Company
- Kip Williams, artistic director of Sydney Theatre Company
- Boaz Shemesh, Head of Set Construction for Sydney Theatre Company
NIDA alumni have won close to 1,000 awards including 8 Academy Awards, 8 Golden Globes, 9 Emmys, 48 Logies, 18 BAFTAs, 5 Oliviers, 3 Tonys and more.
- Academy Awards
Catherine Martin (Design, 1988): 2014 Winner Best Achievement in Costume Design, The Great Gatsby; 2014 Winner Best Production Design, The Great Gatsby; 2002 Winner Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Moulin Rouge!; 2002 winner Best Costume Design, Moulin Rouge!
Cate Blanchett (Acting, 1992): 2014 Winner Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Blue Jasmine; 2005 Winner Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, The Aviator
Mel Gibson (Acting, 1977): 1996 Winner Best Picture, Braveheart; 1996 Winner Best Director, Braveheart
- BAFTA Awards
Catherine Martin (Design, 1988): 2014 Winner Best Costume Design, The Great Gatsby; 2014 Best Production Design, The Great Gatsby; 1998 Winner Best Production Design, Romeo + Juliet; 1993 Winner Best Costume Design, Strictly Ballroom; 1993 Winner Best Production Design, Strictly Ballroom
Cate Blanchett (Acting, 1992): 2014 Winner, Best Leading Actress, Blue Jasmine; 2005 Winner, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, The Aviator; 1999 Winner, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Elizabeth
Baz Luhrmann (Acting, 1985): 1998 Winner Best Direction, Romeo + Juliet; 1998 Winner Best Adapted Screenplay, Romeo + Juliet
Judy Davis (Acting, 1977): 1981 Winner Best Actress, My Brilliant Career; 1981 Winner Most Outstanding Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, My Brilliant Career
Deborah Riley (Design, 1996): 2018 Winner Production Design, Game of Thrones
Fiona Crombie (Design, 1998): 2019 Winner Best Production Design, The Favourite
Craig Pierce (Acting, 1984): 1998 Winner Best Adapted Screenplay for Romeo + Juliet
Angus Strathie (Design, 1988): 1993 Winner Best Costume Design, Strictly Ballroom
- Golden Globe Awards
Cate Blanchett (Acting, 1992): 2014 Winner Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Blue Jasmine; 2008 Winner Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, I’m Not There; 1999 Winner Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Elizabeth
Judy Davis (Acting, 1977): 2002 Winner Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows; 1992 Winner Best Performance by an Actress in A Mini-series or Motion Picture for TV, One Against the Wind
Catherine Martin (Design, 1988): 2002 Winner Best Art Direction, Moulin Rouge!; 1997 Winner Outstanding Art Direction, Romeo + Juliet
Mel Gibson (Acting, 1977): 1996 Winner Best Director – Motion Picture, Braveheart
- Primetime Emmy Awards
Deborah Riley (Design, 1996): 2018 Winner Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More), Game of Thrones for episode ‘Dragonstone’; 2016 Winner Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More), Game of Thrones for episodes ‘Blood of My Blood’, ‘The Broken Man’ and ‘No One’; 2015 Winner Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More), Game of Thrones For episodes: ‘High Sparrow’, ‘Unbowed’, ‘Unbent’, ‘Unbroken’ and ‘Hardhome’; 2014 Winner Outstanding Art Direction for a Contemporary or Fantasy Series (Single-Camera), Game of Thrones for episodes ‘The Laws of God and Men’ and ‘The Mountain and the Viper’
Judy Davis (Acting, 1977): 2007 Winner Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, The Starter Wife; 2001 Winner Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows; 2001 Winner Outstanding Makeup - Miniseries, Movie, Special, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows; 1995 Winner Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story
Gale Edwards (Directing, 1981): 2001 Winner Best Filmed Video, Jesus Christ Superstar
Learning by Doing
Industry engagement and collaborative student learning are core part of NIDA courses. NIDA utilises a conservatoire model, where students learn by practical application through in-house productions and working with professional companies on short-term placements. In addition to classwork, students will work on multiple practical projects during their time at NIDA, ranging from full theatrical productions to short films. Depending on the program, students may also undertake interstate and international trips as part of the learning process.
NIDA delivers hundreds of short courses every year across Australia and internationally through NIDA Open and NIDA Corporate.
NIDA Open is Australia's largest non-profit, performing arts short course program. In 2018, more than 15,000 students attended NIDA Open courses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Darwin and other locations. NIDA Open offers courses for children and young people from preschool through Grade 12, as well as adult courses, in acting, comedy, costumes, props, make-up, design, directing, filmmaking, musical theatre, physical theatre and movement, presenting, technical theatre, stage management, voice and writing.
NIDA Corporate offers practical skills-based training in professional communication, presentation and leadership for individuals and businesses in the public and private sectors. NIDA tutors specialise in theatre and performance education and draw on that expertise to deliver high-quality training for professionals across a range of industries. Tutors include voice specialists, movement and body language practitioners, film and theatre directors, actors and television presenters. In 2018, more than 9,000 participants attended NIDA Corporate training.
- "The Old Globe and University of San Diego - The 25 Best Drama Schools for an Acting Degree, Ranked". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (15 September 2008). "Arts training bodies". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2008.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "NIDA.edu.au: History".