Actors Centre Australia (ACA), the school that has graduated the likes of Hugh Jackman, is coming to Adelaide this month, and applications are now open.

Fronted by internationally recognised acting coach and ACA founder, Dean Carey, ACA has aca_pp_coursebeen at the forefront of acting training in Australia for nearly thirty years.

In 2016, ACA will hold its specialised industry training at Goodwood Institute, offering advanced, comprehensive acting training, preparing performers for full-time training in 2017 or for entry into the acting profession.

Beginning on February 22, ACA is offering 20 places in its The Next Step program running Monday and Thursday nights from 7pm until 10pm, led by Adrian Barnes (Course Co-ordinator) and Dale March (Core Tutor), both experienced ACA Sydney teachers.

ACA founder and acting coach to the stars, Dean Carey, says he is thrilled to be bringing the course to Adelaide after hearing the enthusiasm from South Australian actors on a recent tour.

“I did an Australian tour last year and went to Melbourne, Adelaide and Gold Coast. I met fantastic actors and young people who wanted to be part of the profession who were asking for the sort of education we offer. It’s ACA’s 29th anniversary and we do things quite differently in many ways. One of the big stand out things for us is we don’t collapse the person and the creative artist in the one lump,” he says.

“In other words, the person is stand-alone, and we’re working with the person as they achieve their craft skills. Often teachers wish to collapse both together, so if you failed in 281623-91451-34your acting scene or monologue, then you’re a failure as an actor and therefore as a person. It can create a shame-based or control/power play in the room. Many schools are based around that in this country and around the world.

“Our education is quite different and, as I articulated that in those different cities, people queued up after the seminars asking if we were going to start classes there. Adelaide was very excited, and we found ourselves with one of our fantastic teachers, who used to teach at ACA in Sydney, now living in Adelaide; so it’s a perfect opportunity to roll it out down there. I’ll come down and work as well, and we’ll create something really special.”

With only 18 places available, Dean says they are looking for actors who are committed to a career in dramatic arts and are serious about striving towards the next level.

“There are a number of applications at the moment, but we’re only taking 18 people. The reason for that is we want to make it a very personalised and special experience so people don’t get lost in the crowd. It’s a 24-week program, so it’s intensive and very focussed. We rolled it out in Sydney last year with phenomenal outcomes. We’re really excited to get down there and start,” he says.

“We are doing an interview and audition process to ensure the 18 people are very like-minded in terms of professional approach, ready to go to the next level and step of their career training, fully in their sense of focus, commitment and passion for this. It’s not a hobby for this course. It’s people who really want to finish the 24 weeks and move into the industry in a professional capacity, or people who want to go for a full time drama course at the end of the year; this is the course that will get them there.”

Having worked as an actor before embarking on an illustrious teaching career coaching many of Australia’s respected actors, Dean has learned much about the industry; knowledge he enjoys imparting to his students.

“The most important thing, I think, is that the other person is the most important person in any scene. No matter who you’re playing, or what you’re doing, the other character is the most important person on your radar, and once you realise that is a lesson, then the old adage of ‘to become interesting on stage, all you have to do is become interested in something’,” he says.

“And it’s true, if a person goes up on stage and there’s someone sitting there staring at a can of Coke, it won’t take long before the audience is transfixed as well, making up all sorts of stories. As soon as you become interested in something else on stage, whether it be somebody else or something else, you become interesting as a result. So that takes the focus off you as an actor, it takes the focus off you potentially becoming self conscious, it takes the focus off you forcing, pushing, proving or hoping the audience will ‘get it’ and suddenly you completely trust, and everything natural about you comes into play.”

Passionate about acting and coaching his students toward a career in acting or a full time drama course, Dean is giving his students the opportunities he created for himself in his youth, and sharing knowledge he learned from his industry experience.

“I went to a very conservative all boys school in Melbourne and had a very, very tricky and challenging time with things like bullying, and we were offered a choice, for the first time ever, that we could do sport or we could do a thing called drama. I didn’t want to be running around on the sports field so I chose drama; and it was the first time ever that I was in a group of students who weren’t in a classroom with desks and chalkboards. We sat on the floor with a female teacher and we suddenly began to explore what was going on in our heads and hearts; what we thought, felt and were experiencing and sharing. I suddenly realised drama was the perfect portal for people to share what they’re experiencing in their life. I got hooked from age 15 or 16 and I knew this was the path I wanted to follow,” he says..

“I left school before HSC, because I couldn’t stand being in the conservative environment any longer. I became an usher in Melbourne, and began doing drama classes with a number of professional actors, and then got an agent and began doing extra work on shows like The Sullivans and Cop Shop and Prisoner. I enjoyed the whole idea of creating recognisable lives and bringing characters to life. I auditioned for NIDA and got in, and then when I finished NIDA, I began teaching and never stopped; this is my 34th year of teaching. I love being in the room with people and looking at possibility that can happen and what can be achieved, because human beings need performing arts; it reflects back the world to us and it’s such an important thing.”

From his humble beginnings through to the creation of a distinguished career, Dean prides himself on the care ACA takes with each and every student.

This care has inspired renowned and respected actor Hugh Jackman to become the Patron of the school, and who Dean says was a diligent and focussed student in his time with ACA.

“From the first moment I saw Hugh in the audition, he was someone who was incredibly interested in the craft, he was curious, courageous and would do anything asked of him; in that he would work to full capacity in every process,” he says.

“He would fully engage with other people because he loves the industry; he loves connecting with other actors and performers on stage, so that gave him a great instinctive capacity when he arrived. He made a meal of the program. Plus, he has a great sense of humour and a terrific sense of irreverence.  There’s nothing precious about Hugh. That’s why people love working with him all over the world.”

Applications are still open to audition for ACA’s The Next Step program; CLICK HERE to apply.

Read more about Dean Carey and purchase his books at his website.

The Next Step Program, Adelaide
22nd February 2016 to 11th August 2016
The Goodwood Institute
166 Goodwood Road, Goodwood

By Libby Parker


Libby Parker is a journalist, teacher and life enthusiast.
You can follow her on Twitter at @upsidenews_lib