Performing Arts High
You have probably seen Fame and watched Glee, but what is it really like attending a Performing Arts High School? Laura Banning and Lola Bond from the Australian Performing Arts Grammar School in inner city Sydney have the low down.
How do you balance school work and performing?
Laura: APGS always incorporates the performing arts into our academic learning. The structure of three days of academic work and two days of performing arts allows a balance, making sure everything is covered equally.
Lola: Yes it’s hard, because I have a lot of school work and a lot of outside performing arts activities. I think preparation is definitely key. I like to set out a timetable of all my specific auditions, school work and rehearsals so I can plan out how much time I want to spend on each.
What do you think sets APGS apart from other schools?
Laura: Being around such like-minded people is something that is so special; to have a school where everyone understands your passions and goals. I was worried it would be clicky, competitive and judgemental, but at APGS everyone is supportive. Even if you are not a dancer and you try dance, people are going to support you. Little things like jamming at lunch time with your friends or like showing each other new music that no one else would know.
Lola: It’s completely a family; you have friends in year 7 and year 12. You know everyone because it’s such a nurturing school.
What is the most memorable performance you've been a part of?
Laura: That would be the musical I was recently cast in Be More Chill, as that was a breaking point for my career as it was the Australian Premiere and it was an audition I was going for that I didn’t think I would get. I was uncomfortable with the role at the start, as it was out of my comfort zone, but in the end I learnt so much.
Lola: My first ever performance that wasn’t in school or youth theatre was the Short and Sweet festival. Our play The Eulogy concerned death, domestic abuse and violence. I was the youngest female performer in the festival of over 500 performers. I won the best actress runner up for best actor of the whole festival.
When did you first become interested in performing?
Laura: I had been taking singing, acting and dancing classes all throughout childhood, but things started to become more serious for me in year 7. I realised this is what I wanted to do so I enrolled at APGS.
Lola: I have always been a very creative person. Even in cooking I remember when I was two mixing stuff up. I used to sing on tables and make up little performances for my parents.
What are your study and career goals?
Laura: Definitely performing arts based, particularly in musical theatre; that is the dream. I intend to audition for all the universities in Australia and abroad. If I don’t get in the first year, which often happens, I am thinking of doing a full-time course at a dance studio as well as working to save money, then hopefully after that I’ll get into a college to do bachelor of musical theatre, then after that I want to perform in musicals.
Lola: Well I most likely want to go to university. I have short listed all of these universities like Julliard, NIDA, etc. But I also want to focus not just on acting, because since I came to APGS I have expanded to singing and dancing, which I would not have done at any other school.
What do you think has contributed most to your success in the Arts?
Laura: The main thing has been commitment, hard work and determination. Just having the right mind set. Every audition is an opportunity, whether it is successful or not. It is at least an opportunity to perform. If it’s a no it doesn’t mean you’re bad, it means you might be too tall, you might have the wrong hair colour, you might be too young, too old, so it always comes down to how you look at things.
Lola: Persistence and focus; a lot of people tell me my focus is unwavering. I am always acting and that has definitely contributed. If you are putting your energy into something then you are going to see results. My support system - my family supports me, my school supports me and that really makes a difference.