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Happy New Year – 2012

This is not to be a normal post, but rather an update of the circumstances in which I will continue to write. I graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in the Acting Course (NIDA) in 1971 – yikes 41 years ago. Since then, I have worked as an actor, director and teacher of acting, both in Australia and Internationally – Principally, the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. I worked as a teacher at NIDA, part time and full time for 28 years.

I have just finished a ten year stint as a full-time staff member, working with Tony Knight and his exciting, evolving and stimulating course and staff (let me not forget the gifted student artists from whom I was constantly learning, as well). I was offered a further one-year contract for 2012, but felt I could not accept its terms and since there was no offer of any negotiation, and considering the ‘times’ there, it was time to begin again. So, here I am free lancing alongside the rest of the performing arts community, again, as I once did. It feels familiar but re-leasing!! Daunting but exciting. I am up to acting again, directing and, of course, teaching.

I have been lucky and grateful that the New Theatre, a long time encourager of my development over nearly three decades have offered and given me a project to engage in: THE TEMPERAMENTALS by Jon Marans, as part of the 2012, Mardi Gras Festival. It opens with an exciting young cast of professionals: Doug Hansell, Daniel Scott, Mark Dessaix, Ben McIvor and Brett Rogers. February 7th to 3rd March, 2012. My talent will be up for the scrutiny by the scene that I have written about in the last four years. Really, 4 years? I, like they, can only try to do it well, my best!!!

To follow, Clare Grant, along with Su Goldfish, Paul Mattews and Mark Mitchell have invited me to work with students at the Creative Practice and Research Unit (CPRU) of the School of English, Media and Performing Arts (EMPA), in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sceiences, UNSW on a project: Staging the Text. Clare invited me to choose something, anything that I had wanted to do – but had never had the opportunity to do. So, a project that I had, dreamt of, and only dreamed about – the Nobel Prize Winner Gao Xingjian’s THE OTHER SHORE – surfaced in my consciousness. I chose this play for several reasons: A) It is a Chinese play and, really, that close and important culture is hardly ever seen in the theatre in Australia; B): It has a form that I have had very little practice at – hmmmm!!!. C): Jump, and see what happens. It begins rehearsal in early February for a March showing. In truth, as I have told my invitees, I do not know what or how to do this work – a great big leap into the unknown (Aubrey Mellor is excited that I am having a go). “25 non-actors, non-dancers but with infinite (I hope) passion”, I have been assured to be let loose on this territory with me and the others. The other shore indeed. I wonder what it will be.

One of my post-NIDA expeditions will be to follow on from my intense background of recent years, in discovering the way to extend to the working profession the means to continue the development and honing of their skills. In recent years, outside of the aegis of NIDA, graduate students, particularly those who have been to the BIG, CRAZY LA LA LAND of film and television, and returning to Australia, have begun to seek CLASSES. Acting Classes that they got used to attending in Los Angeles and New York to keep themselves primed and stimulated as artists. I was asked to take some of these classes. They were made up of graduates from all schools in Australia (WAPPA, QUT, VCA, ACA, NIDA etc.) and young artists from the television world who had amassed great experience but who felt not confident enough technically (or, so they thought).

Oliver Wenn, an ex-student of mine has felt the need for this stimulation and we, together have begun a fledgling idea, to try to provide an opportunity where the professional actor can have a space to meet and access to the refreshment and refurbishing of their craft and possibly art. Check out his site at We are having a season of classes beginning in January.

Similarly, Sam Strong and the Griffin Theatre Company have asked me to run a series of scenework masterclasses as part of their far sighted program for the profession in March 2012.

No longer a complete luddite (I even have a mobile phone and can send texts!), I have also set up a website where you can find out about my acting classes (individual and group) and directing work. This is a self serving blog as I am up for it. Whatever it may be. I hope you have a good New Year. I hope to very much.

I shall be back to usual business as soon as I go to the theatre next. Wish you luck. Wish me some, too?

Sincerely, Kevin Jackson.

2 replies to “Happy New Year – 2012”

  1. Hi Kevin ,
    Best wishes for 'the voyage out'!

    You have done something fantastic with this site over the past four years , considering each performance you see in terms of its particular evolution and placing it in the context of our theatre history. You give us cross references- literary , historical, personal ….you come to everything with an open mind and a generous heart , and give praise wherever you can. Thus do your occasional angry outbursts gain weight : we know that you don't scour the horizon for easy prey for your redoubtable bow…

    You have added richness to NIDA life for many years , and now your talents will be seen in diverse forums.

    It has been a challenge and a pleasure to respond to your theatre diary…I wish i had done so all the times I intended to get around to it! Of course , one can share impressions with fellow theatre-goers in a foyer after a performance , or in a conversation a day or two later ( when maybe there's a clearer vision of why one felt the way one did …), but the enduring gift of a site such as this is the chance to respond to someone whom WE KNOW takes theatre seriously ; loves it and wrestles with it ; is still open for argument about a play days after having seen it.

    So, may the gods of theatre (Dionysus , Cameron Mackintosh and Hugh Jackman) look with favour on their director-diarist , and part the waves – and indeed the curtains – on the new frontiers of his journey.


  2. My best wishes and love to you KJ! May 2012 be widely creative and filled with courage and self expression.

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