INDEPENDENT NEWS

And Action! Emerging Kiwi Actors Prepare For More Opportunities In A Post-Covid World

Published: Mon 18 May 2020 09:40 AM
As the country moves to Level 2, the time for Kiwi actors to step up onto the world stage has never been better. With local productions back up and running this week, and new ones in development, New Zealand is also being viewed as a safe haven for international screen productions. The world is looking to our shores as a refuge to restart working in an industry halted by COVID-19, and opportunity is knocking to cast NZ actors in roles that can’t be filled by international heavyweights. One ambitious local school is preparing the stars of tomorrow for what is set to be a blossoming of Kiwis on screen.
The Actors’ Program (TAP) has seen graduates cast in a multitude of local and international productions including Westside, Shortland St, Auckward Love, The Gulf, Fresh Eggs, Filthy Rich, Runaway Millionaires, Cul de Sac, and Brokenwood Mysteries. Plus, DC: Legends of Tomorrow, the Amazon pilot The Wilds, the Netflix shows The New Legends of Monkey and Falling Inn Love, Power Rangers and new international Amazon series The Wheel of Time. The school has taken the lockdown as a chance to break the mould and prepare for the predicted boom. Now in its ninth year, TAP is a performance oriented, year-long intensive course, aimed at providing actors and directors with tools and contacts to enter the challenging and exciting world of stage and screen. While moving their full programme online was forced by the lockdown restrictions, it has allowed TAP to test and develop their web-based teaching into a fully-fledged, catered digital programme, creating opportunities for students to develop in new ways.
“The benefit of having a smaller industry in Aotearoa is our ability to adapt,” said Michele Hine, Artistic Manager of The Actors Program. “We are nimble, creative, and responsive, and that means our actors are better geared to not just survive but thrive in the changes forced upon our industry.”
Increasingly future-focused in their training programme for up-and-coming actors and directors, TAP are setting students up with a host of traditional and post-pandemic skills. With technology needed for international and interregional collaboration, and protocols such as self-tapes, auditions and interviewing online needing to become the norm, TAP graduates will be walking out into the industry with an arsenal of tools right at the edge of innovation. The move online has also proved to be beneficial in unexpected ways, allowing a new focus on creating content, developing pitching strategies, preparing actors to wrestle with the unrealities of green-screens, and even breaking down self-awareness as trainees get used to being constantly on camera.
Speaking about the benefits of the programme, Hine said “Our graduates are highly skilled, not just as actors but directors, producers, and writers as well. There is a huge opportunity for them to break through as New Zealand’s reputation on the world stage continues to grow. With both short courses and an intensive year on offer– now is the perfect time to retrain and upskill”
With just over 120 TAP graduates, the course is open to a maximum of 16 students each year, offering individualised and concentrated mentorship from some of Aotearoa’s industry experts. TAP is also in the rare position of being able to immediately employ people who have suffered recent cancellations due to COVID limitations around gatherings, with over 60 regular tutors and revered industry professionals on their books.
With social distancing measures in place the school will return to their K’Rd home this week and students and tutors can be interviewed about their learnings and future opportunities in situ. Available for interview are some of the incredible industry professionals that are involved with TAP, including tutors and alumni: Michele Hine, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Michael Hurst, Zoe Robins, Jess Sayer, Miranda Harcourt, and Sara Wiseman
For more information about The Actors Programme, visit theactorsprogram.co.nz/

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