Lieder stars pursue bright lights 

SOME of the greatest actors of our generation have passed through the halls of NIDA, including Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, even Mel Gibson. Now, local girl Ceilidh Newbury looks set to follow in their footsteps.

At the tender age of 17, she is one of the youngest people to ever be accepted into the prestigious theatrical institution.

However, unlike the before mentioned she won’t be gracing the stage; instead she will take up position in the technicians’ box, ensuring the actors on stage are well lit, sound great and don’t miss a single cue.

While few Lieder regulars would see her face from behind the scenes, they would have surely seen her handy work, doing tech on countless productions over the past four years.

Ceilidh applied for a Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Production) at NIDA earlier this year, not expecting an interview let alone acceptance due to her age.

At 17, her determination to not let age stand in her way means she is a rare exception to even apply.

“I wasn’t going to be able to apply because I was too young,” she told the Post.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking. I got to the place an hour before I had to do my interview and psyched myself up for it for an hour.

“They did ask me a lot of questions about my age, and how I would cope with it… They asked me stuff like if I would feel excluded because people would be going out to the pub and I couldn’t go, and I said I wasn’t coming here for that, I’m coming here to go to NIDA.

“I’m not going to wait a year to start doing things I want to do because I’m too young.”

Ceilidh told the Post her ultimate goal, at the end of three years is to secure a job anywhere in the theatrical industry.

“I just want to fill the gaps. I will do anything to be involved because that’s what I do here (at the Lieder), if there’s a job that needs doing you just do it because it makes everything run smoother, and that’s what I want to do.”

However Ceilidh isn’t the only Lieder product blazing towards a bright future in professional theatre. Fellow Mulwaree High School graduate, 18-year-old Mark Churchill, will pursue his dreams on-stage at the University of Wollongong, majoring in acting.

“I first started acting in 2008 when I was in Macbeth through the Lieder,” he said.

“My mum had been involved since ’95, I think. So then one day Chrisjohn needed a young lad so I came along and really enjoyed it, so then I just kept doing more plays.

“When I went there I didn’t know much about Wollongong but from what the workshop was, it’s really hardcore… They want to train you so you can do anything.

“I’d love to do movie work, television, theatre or anything! I haven’t had any or much experience in film or television, but I think I prefer theatre because it’s a living organism.”

Lieder artistic director Chrisjohn Hancock told the Post that the company couldn’t be more proud of the two, and what the future holds for them.

“We at the Lieder are really proud and excited… they worked really hard during their time here and we are really excited about their future.”

Both Ceilidh and Mark attribute their success to their foundations at the Lieder, agreeing that the professional, hard-working atmosphere is a great stepping stone for anyone interested in the industry.

“What’s great about the theatre which you won’t find at school or anything when you’re a 13 or 14-year-old is that everyone is treated equally,” Mark said.

“It’s like the real world, you don’t get babied. You get a lot of responsibility,” Ceilidh said.

“When we were doing our group performance (for HSC Drama) we used a lot of stuff that we learnt at the theatre to create our group performance and we actually got nominated for onstage and we both got band sixes.”

“Another thing that’s great about the theatre is that they train you in a well rounded manner. I’ve done lights, sound, stage managing and acting; Ceilidhs done acting, managing, sound, lights… We all learn how the entire process of theatre runs. It’s really great,” Mark added.

Filled with hope and anticipation, Ceilidh sets off for Sydney at the end of this week, to start classes on January 29. Mark has a little longer to wait, beginning his study on March 1.

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