Barry Otto is the Arts Unit's Ambassador for Drama.
I have been attending performances by The Arts Unit's State Drama Company for the past 5 years. This includes theatre productions and the annual State Drama Festival. I have been incredibly impressed by the work that is produced by this ensemble. The standard has been of the highest order, truly professional and as good as any productions I have seen either at NIDA or on the main stages of Sydney theatres. Congratulations to the tutors and all of the students involved in the Arts Unit drama ensembles!
Barry Otto is one of Australia's best known actors, having worked in the performing arts for over 35 years. He writes:
'A number of years ago I performed the title role in "King Lear" for the Sydney Theatre Company's education program. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my career. The production itself was outstanding, however more importantly, the high school student audiences were among the most intelligent and supportive I have experienced.
Teaching the creative and performing arts in Australian schools should be a national education priority. A recent report by international education consultant Professor Brian Caldwell found that attendance at schools soared on days when arts classes were held and that children's emotional and social wellbeing rose significantly.
My vision for arts education in Australia would be in line with the program at the primary school my children attended. A full time drama teacher conducted drama classes from Kindergarten through to Year 6. The culmination of their primary school life was the Year 6 production, which the students themselves devised and performed, with every student taking a role. When my children went on to high school I was told by their teachers that it was always possible to identify the students who had attended this primary school as they were always ready to “have a go" at almost any task assigned to them, in any subject. Drama classes had given them the confidence to stand in front of their peers and voice an opinion - and not be afraid of making a fool of themselves’.