Panel – Mark Radvan and colleagues – Holding on to what we left behind?


Holding on to what we left behind?

Mark Radvan (chair) Andrea Moor (QUT) Budi Miller (VCA), Peter Zazzali (Lasalle, Singapore), Heather Timms (Toi Whakaari, NZ)

In previous work, Mark Radvan has argued that given the academic and regulatory frameworks that tertiary acting courses exist within, as course designers and teachers, we should be investing more creative attention in curriculum design, and less in the competency based approaches traditionally associated with our actor-training heritage.

The flight to online platforms, forced by recent pandemic measures, and the collapse of the business models we have been accustomed to operating in, makes a rethink of acting curriculum both more interesting and more necessary. Adding further urgency is the pandemic’s continuing impact on the industry that graduates aspire to be part of, and the ongoing sweep of social movements that are requiring us to question the social, political and philosophical foundations underpinning traditional acting curriculum.

Such a review would compel us to ask fundamental questions about what acting and performance means in contemporary society, and how that might lead us to redefining course learning outcomes and to reconsidering the pedagogies needed to fulfill them. This panel will reflect on the current learnings of tertiary teachers in this space, and indeed ask – are we holding on to what we left behind? Or, letting go of what held us back?

Mark Radvan’s career in actor and performer training began in the seventies as a youth theatre director at Sydney’s Seymour Centre. In 1981 he completed the NIDA director’s course, and then was associate director of La Boite Theatre (1982-83) directing mainstage and youth productions. It began in earnest in 1984 when he joined BCAE (now QUT) to coordinate its little-known Associate Diploma in Theatre. He commenced a ten-year program of expansion that saw it become a three-year degree, first showcasing its students’ stage and film work in Sydney in 1993. He re-joined the Acting degree in 2014, and since then has redesigned it twice in ongoing compliance with TEQSA requirements and processes. He was the founding director of Imaginary Theatre, a company devoted to innovating in theatre made for children and their families, and was the director of the theatre adaptations of the Tashi stories that were seen by young audiences all over Australia between 2004 and 2014.