Creative study tour experience of a lifetime

Author: Bruce Andrews
Publication Date: Friday, 28 Aug 2015

Prague group 1Performance and theatre design students at Charles Sturt University (CSU) have returned from an exhilarating study tour with an expanded view of the career opportunities that await them.

Ms Claire Moloney, lecturer in design for stage and screen in the CSU School of Communication and Creative Industries, said the 34 undergraduate students undertook a very hands-on study tour to Macau, Prague, and London.

The students are enrolled in two courses and four specialisations: the Bachelor of Communication (Theatre/Media) at CSU in Bathurst, and the Bachelor of Stage and Screen (Acting), the Bachelor of Stage and Screen (TV Production), and the Bachelor of Stage and Screen (Design) at CSU in Wagga Wagga.

The study tour was supported by CSU Global and included visits to The House of Dancing Waters in Macau (Hong Kong), the 2015 Prague Quadrennial (in the Czech Republic), and London where they toured Shakespeare's The Globe theatre and attended a West End musical, The Book of Mormon.

They also toured the (fashion designer) Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the amazing museum of art and design.

Building networks for future careers

Prague street 1"The students gained an exceptional insight into the international performance scene and where it is heading, which was great," Ms Moloney said. "Most, if not all, made valuable international contacts and friends, and some even received job offers for the next Prague Quadrennial in four year's time."

Third-year acting student Ms Susan Pammer said the idea of travelling overseas to explore the world for one's education is something out of a dream, but being able to do just that this year with CSU was an experience of a lifetime.

"Travelling between Macau, Prague and London, we were able to experience new cultures and discover the world of theatre and design on an international stage," Ms Pammer said. "Between the theatrical shows in Macau and London, and the Prague Quadrennial, I was able to gain greater understanding of theatre outside Australia.

Prague escalator 1"It was fascinating to see other university students from around the world in their element and what they brought to the competition. Also, being able to experience the work of professional artists, designers and actors from around the world is something I'll always be thankful for."

Ms Moloney said the study tour group visit to Macau was hosted by CSU graduate Ms Anna Robb who is the general stage manager of The House of Dancing Waters. The group toured the vast backstage, and watched the show. The design students were able to watch the show in the control room to gain additional technical insights.

Third-year theatre/media student Ms Krysta-Rose McGovern said, "This study tour was a successful educational experience with particularly challenging thresholds considering culture, language barriers, and the conceptual perspectives built into every theatre, street performance, and grocery store.

"All of these places gave us so much knowledge into theatre, media, and physical movement. The only privation was not having enough time to relish every environment longer. I cannot thank the coordinators, facilitators, and works that were presented enough for this opportunity. This program has made me even hungrier to work in the industry."

Students perform on international stage

The Prague Quadrennial in which the students performed is the largest scenography festival in the world. It is multi-facetted and included talks, discussions, lectures, workshops, parades, performances, many exhibitions and installations.

Prague escalator 2"We couldn't get through it all in the 11 days, it was too big!" Ms Moloney said. "It included some very famous directors and designers who gave presentations, such as Robert LePage, Robert Wilson and Julie Taymor."

Ms Jessica Murphy, a third-year theatre/media student, said the Prague Quadrennial was a remarkable festival which enabled fellow artists to meet and support each other's work through criticism and applause. "I will definitely be returning in four years time to continue being inspired by artists from all around the world," she said.

All the CSU students performed in one or more of the four student performance categories they were entered in. All performances were driven and designed by the third-year designers, with the input and help of everyone else.

"There were two 'Tribes' entries in which the third-year designers designed and made the costumes which were then worn by designers, actors, and television production students," Ms Moloney said. "This involved students parading around the city on a designated route for an hour, and even included an underground train journey. All students performed in 'Street', in a square in Prague. Later, many students performed or were involved in 'DISK', which was performed in a theatre packed with people."

Cultures inspire and motivate

Third-year design student Ms Haley Toms said the whole trip was so inspiring. "Travelling overseas itself was an inspiration, and seeing how people in different cultures live is an eye-opener," Ms Toms said.

Prague subway 1_250x150"The Prague Quadrennial allowed me to meet other designers, some young aspiring artists, and older theatre practitioners. I really enjoyed hearing the older theatre practitioners' stories and their successes. It gave me insight into what I should be aiming for. I would love to be a part of a costume crew for film or TV. I would still happily do theatre, but I am aiming to follow film and TV.

"I think the most important thing that this trip did for me was make me feel more confident within myself. I realised that design should be about the passion; if you keep pursuing it, you'll only get better at it. The industry isn't easy, so you have to apply yourself and work your way up."

Prague subway 2Ms Kate Bannigan, a second-year acting student, said she found the differences and similarities of the people she met was intriguing, and that it was wonderful to work alongside so many CSU students who she hadn't had a chance to work with before, or with the many different people in their workshop.

"Everyone had new and inspiring creative thought processes that made things take turns I never saw coming," she said.

"This trip has been the opportunity of a lifetime, and personally and professionally insightful. I found seeing the different backgrounds and cultures of the world eye-opening, and discovered how massively our histories shape and affect our cultures and ourselves. All the beautiful architecture inspired me greatly, as did all the fascinating stories and incredible history of the people and places in the cities we visited."

Prague plazaSecond-year design student Ms Kayla Crowe described the study tour as incredible and said she learned so much, not only about designing, but about how each workplace and environment can change between countries and shows.

"This trip has taught me so much, and helped me with the direction I want to take with my career when I leave Charles Sturt University," she said. "I know that there are opportunities for internships and work experience, and I am planning on researching these and applying in the very near future."

Ms Moloney said all the students came back invigorated and inspired. "The study tour showed us all the possibilities of creating productions and made us realise how very narrow Australian ideals can be when it comes to theatre. I hope it will encourage the students to be creative and experimental in their storytelling, and will help them to push the boundaries in their art. They are the next generation and can influence how we view and interact with stories and with art."Prague bridge


Media contact: Bruce Andrews, (02) 6338 6084

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews.

All the photos of CSU students in Prague are by Ms Claire Moloney.

This CSU Global study tour to Macau, Prague, and London was from Sunday 14 June to Wednesday 1 July 2015.