Actors Centre Australia

An HSC play season at the Actors Centre Australia HQ in the inner Sydney suburb of Leichhardt is off to a flying start.  Stage Whispers’ David Spicer caught up with Anthony Kierann – the Chief Operating Officer at ACA - about the season and latest opportunities at the training school.

Stage Whispers: Anthony your first play pitched at the school curriculum The Laramie Project has just opened. How has it been received?

Anthony Kierann:  It has been a terrific response, very well received with schools travelling from as far as Woy Woy. The Q&A with the Director, actors, and school students after the show has been full of fascinating and insightful questions. For ACA, it’s wonderful to see these young enquiring minds having so many questions. In an era of rapid immediate electronic information, it is humbling as a place of learning to see that student experience with enquiries still bedded in live interaction.

Stage Whispers: What opportunity has it presented for past graduates and students of ACA and for High School students studying the text?

Anthony Kierann:  The ACA Company allows our graduate actors to work, to practice, further develop their skills and contribute to the community in the context of learning for HSC school students. These plays in performance create an opportunity for students to see first-hand in a live theatre environment the full play of a text students are studying. We hope the performance will open their senses to ask more questions, to further understand the playwright’s intention and message of the play.

Stage Whispers: Which productions are coming up later this year? 

Anthony Kierann:  The Laramie Project is on now and the stage setting is inspiring - a simple display of chairs and clothes interwoven with characters changing within the story. The Removalists by Australia’s legendary playwright David Williamson has limited tickets left and is on 30 May to 2 June. The performance comes with a pre-recorded 15-minute discussion with David and ACA Company Artistic Director, Adam Cook. Then The Female of the Species is on 5 – 8  September that also has a pre-recorded discussion with the playwright Joanna Murray-Smith. Our final 2023 company play is The Shape of Things by Neil La Bute it is on 12 -15 September. A Drama Teacher who brought their school class to The Laramie Project told us: “Thank you for a very moving and thought-provoking night in the theatre. Your actors, with both your direction and dramaturgy, did a beautiful job telling the story of The Laramie Project. The Drama students here at IGS absolutely loved the show, as did their teacher.”

Stage Whispers: How has the landscape for performing arts schools changed in recent years? 

Anthony Kierann:  Performing Arts Schools have a responsibility to represent diversity and inclusivity that is reflective of the broad ever-changing community we live in. There is a stronger voice within community groups that in years gone by may have had difficulty accessing some areas within the arts. An example of how this is represented is in the Accessible Acting Program (AAP). A 20-week intense program for people living with disability. In partnership with Bus Stop Films on the craft of acting, the program culminates with a showcase performance to the public and a showreel tape for agents in the industry. The graduates of the program will sit alongside our ACA BA graduates on our website. 

Stage Whispers: And is this reflected in the casting of your productions and make up of your intake? 

Anthony Kierann:  Along with our AAP students, we also have a large number of students from many cultural groups within the Australian community including our from our First Nations Indigenous culture. It is important in our intake each year that we present a cross section of the society as this greatly enriches the cohesive learning dynamic with the core study of our BA Program.

Stage Whispers: I understand international students are enrolling now at ACA. What are they bringing to the cohort? 

Anthony Kierann: Yes, in 2024, we will be accepting international students into the BA program in partnership with our University Partner Torrens University. People can apply all year round. This will bring an even greater broad cultural influence that will enrich the campus with stories, song, history and further creative dynamics that will teach students more than the craft of acting, but appreciation of all peoples within our global community.

Stage Whispers: Deciding on a career in the performing arts is a big step. ACA offers a few shorter courses. Can you describe them and explain how they are a good way of both developing new skills and deciding if longer form study is suitable? 

Anthony Kierann:  We have the 20-week Accessible Acting Program for people living with disability, which is a tremendous success, at capacity enrolments.  We also have the 20-week Foundation program, devised by Associate Director Johann Walraven, that caters to not only beginners but also those in the industry wanting to work on the tools of their instrument as an actor. It is an ideal course for those also considering doing the fulltime BA program as an introduction to the schools learning environment and teachings. This course also culminates in a performance at graduation. Currently, we are finalising a Diploma of Stage and Screen for 2024 to create that one year course that will satisfy the gap between the ACA short course and the three-year degree program.

Stage Whispers: For those who are set on longer study, what is available at ACA? 

Anthony Kierann:  The heartbeat of ACA is its BA Degree program - an intense, dynamic course that is designed to develop and nurture the emerging artist within all students as part of an ensemble preparing them for the industry of performance on stage and on screen. It’s a course that is highly regarded within the industry as one of the leading performing arts full-time programs in Australia, comprising of students from across Australia. The Centre also has ACA Wheelhouse, a unique program that has industry guests and engagement with filmmakers, producers and directors who create and develop on site, building an industry HUB, as well as industry screenings and Q&As with stage, screen leaders and creative practitioners for the students.  

Stage Whispers: What they key deadlines coming up for auditions? 

Anthony Kierann:  Applications are open all year round for the Degree program, with the cut off period in November 2023 for an audition period in December 2023 for the 2024 intake. The next Foundation program starts on 10 July 2023 and is taking applications now. 

Stage Whispers: What advice would you give to a nervous student wanting to apply?

Anthony Kierann:  Perhaps I apply this answer to an audition - be honest, open, prepare to have fun and just be you as you are. The school is interested in you, to cultivate your creative abilities and one of those key ingredients is courage to be open and willing to fall down within a nurturing safe and caring learning environment that allows the teaching staff the ability to teach, guide and inspire the student to be all that they aspire to be.  We have a motto at ACA “Don’t wait, create”.

Images by Clare Hawley (@Asparay): The Laramie Project

Apply now for ACA’s Foundation Program (July Intake) or the Bachelor of Performing Arts (Stage & Screen) 2023 intake by visiting