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Hunter Drama take the lead online


The entertainment and performing arts industries have been hit hard by the impact of COVID-19. A wide range of major events were cancelled or postponed within hours of the Prime Minister’s announcement last Friday and more are added daily. It has also left another section of the industry reeling but one local acting academy is doing what they do best – solving problems creatively.

‘We’ve spent the last several days postponing major productions and rescheduling overseas tours which have been tough but necessary decisions,’ said Founder and CEO of Hunter Drama, Daniel Stoddart.

‘The next thing we had to address was our 400-plus students who participate in our drama and musical theatre classes every week across four locations – Newcastle, Maitland, Cessnock and Singleton.

We needed a creative way to ensure we could deliver them their classes should schools and after school activities need to close. ‘We wanted to be proactive to ensure our students don’t miss out because we know for a lot of them, attending their weekly classes (and for many, it’s several classes per week) is a major highlight of their week.

If we go into self-imposed isolation, those children are going to crave a creative outlet and connectivity more than ever. ‘So, we put our collective, creative heads together and have developed the Hunter’s first online acting classes for young people.

‘The program is called “HD in HD” (Hunter Drama in High Definition) and it will enable our students to log into an online platform at the time their regular class would usually take place. They’ll be able to see their classmates and be led by the familiar face of their regular drama teacher. The teacher will lead them through a variety of exercises and games and allow the students to share their work and progress, building characters and learning lines with their fellow young actors.

‘It will provide our students and their families the opportunity to maintain some kind of normality and routine, doing the things they love and interacting with their friends in a positive online learning environment. ‘Many arts workers are suffering because of the mass gathering ban and they’re unable to generate any income – meaning they simply cannot afford food and rent.

HD in HD is a safe and innovative way to not only look after the wellbeing of our students during these uncertain times but it will also ensure our staff and tutors stay in work and are able to pay their bills.

‘This specially designed distance learning platform is an example of how the arts have a positive impact on our social wellbeing. We’re really excited to start the program because we think it may open up many other opportunities for learning to those who may not always be able to participate in classes face-to-face,’ added Daniel, who is also the co-founder of the Junior Theatre Festival Australia.

To access HD in HD, students need a mobile, laptop or tablet to join a class by downloading Zoom. Visit the Hunter Drama website for more informaiton at www.hunterdrama.com.au

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