It is October 2012, the venue is the Bille Brown Studio and an audience watches a performance intently. The audience; mostly made up of the family and friends of the people on stage is full of anticipation.

This was not your typical school performance though the performers were indeed school age. This was not the type of occasion that long suffering parents felt obliged to go to. There was no one taking thirty winks behind sunglasses waiting for their child to come onstage to deliver one awkward line.

Rather this audience were transfixed by some amazing performances by young adults who may well be the next generation of Australian acting super stars. The acting was exceptionally good, the performance emotional and honest and the audience was moved. Little wonder when you consider who had been teaching and nurturing these students.

Last year the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) revived their Youth Ensemble. The audience I mentioned had been eagerly lapping up the penultimate performance of the students who has been part of the program. The ensemble program is aimed at training selected talented, hardworking students. It is on again for 2013 so more students are being taught performing arts by some of the best in the business. Once more the future of the acting talent in Queensland is given a huge boost with this fabulous program aimed at bringing the best out of its passionate and talented students.

Young people living in South East (SE) Qld who are passionate about acting do not have to rely on their drama class at high school to pursue their dream. The Youth Ensemble is especially for those high school students who hunger for training in the performing arts.

It is a serious commitment and requires a successful audition to participate but it would seem plenty of young people are keen with over 200 people auditioning this year.

The program is yearlong and the classes are after school hours so education is not affected. Each student accepted into the program is given a season pass to the QTC. The participants come from all walks of life, public and private schools and there are even scholarships available. It is an amazing opportunity for young people interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts. Each year the students work towards a performance showcase season at the QTC’s Bille Brown Studio.

Heavily involved with the students from the youth ensemble are QTC Education Program Coordinator Heidi Irvine and Youth Program Coordinator Claire Christian, both passionate about what the ensemble is doing for talented young adults:

“Queensland Theatre Company provides access for motivated, passionate and talented young performers to develop their skills as actors by working with theatre professionals throughout the year long Youth Ensemble program.”

The program is not entirely new, previously running alongside QTC Theatre Residency Week, a week long school holiday workshop intensive in September. “The reason it has been reinvigorated and brought back is due to our desire as the state theatre company, to embrace and nurture excellent practice, and to allow young people who are aspiring to work in the creative industries, to get actor training which is second to none, unlike anything else that is offered in SE Queensland. “

The audition process for the 2013 applicants involved each student presenting a prepared two minute monologue and also performing as part of a group. Heidi and Claire explain that “The idea for the group audition was to see their ability to work in a group and their ensemble dynamic…”

The goal of the process is to foster young talent. The QTC provides access to theatre professionals for passionate and motivated individuals who are eager to learn. Most 2012 participants in the program have gone on to study drama and acting at tertiary level, so there is little question that the program works.

Both Heidi and Claire are very proud of their participation in the program. The greatest joy for them is to see

“… the dedication the young people show to the program and their appreciation of this relationship.”

They are passionate about helping young people to achieve their goals and feel their work is so important given they are fostering the possible future stars of the performing arts.

“What makes us return is the ability to work creatively in the arts and to be able to facilitate theatre access for as many young people as we can manage.”

As well as the professional aspect of the program Heidi and Claire are firm believers in drama and theatre’s impact on a persons’ learning. They believe the arts offer something unique to a persons’ intellectual and social life. So even those that decide tertiary study is not for them learn invaluable skills.

High school students living in SE Queensland interested in the performing arts have a unique opportunity; learning from professionals, attending plays throughout the year and performing in a showcase at the end of their journey. I imagine there are students that would kill for an opportunity like that. But of course they need do nothing quite so extreme but rather wait for the auditions for next year. See the Website for further information.

Currently the senior ensemble is having their yearly production. In conjunction with the Grin and Tonic Theatre troupe they will be performing a piece especially commissioned for them by David Burton.

The show runs for six performances and you can still catch it! Last performance is the 6th July. See for information and to book tickets.