Last Friday about 150 Drama and English students from nine high schools around NSW attended a Q&A with actor Aden Young and film director Ian Darling. This was School screen‘s most successful videoconference to date. Amid the thunderous applause there was one image that really made me smile – a handwritten sign held up to the camera that read: ‘We Love You Aden’!
Aden and Ian assembled at the NSW Department of Education and Training headquarters in Sydney and schools dialed in via their Connected Classrooms. Aden (Mao’s Last Dancer and Beneath Hill 60) was part of the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Hedda Gabler, which was invited to play a season in New York in 2006. The play starred some top name Australian actors including Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving.
Ian directed and produced the insightful documentary In the Company of Actors that followed the cast rehearsing in Sydney and the glamourous opening night at BAM (the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music).
The Q&A was successful because of the thought the students put into their questions, really impressing director Ian Darling. Ian and Aden were equally as considered in their replies, but in a very jokey and informal way. They shared a lot of professional insights into the process of making theatre and films. Aden had great stories about the cast’s trials and triumphs – both in the rehearsal room and on stage. Aden’s story of Cate Blanchett’s cool reaction to a vibrating, frenzied mobile phone that accidentally fell on the stage had us all laughing, but mortified at the same time.
An especially big credit has to go to the wonderful teachers who see the benefit of events like this, and go out of their way to make it possible. The video-linked Q&A is another way we share Australia’s audiovisual culture for more to enjoy. The participating schools were: Armidale High, Burwood Girls High School, Campbelltown Performing Arts High, Dubbo Senior College, Duval High, Great Lakes College Tuncurry Senior Campus, Kooringal High (Wagga Wagga), Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High, and Wollongong Performing Arts High.
You can now watch videos of the event online.