CANBERRA Academy of Dramatic Art presently has an artist-in-residence with a very special memory.
As a student, New York actor Doug Chapman attended a life-changing summer school with teachers from the Moscow Art Theatre, home to Stanislavski, Nemirovich-Danchenko and Chekov.
Those teachers, as he says, came “from a rich, cultural tradition with a deep intellectual and emotional connection with their material… They also have a great sense of creative freedom and reverence for their task, which I found very inspiring.”
Chapman never looked back, going on to train as an actor at Harvard in a special program that combined time in Moscow at the theatre school with training at the renowned American Repertory Theatre. He has been working in New York theatres for some years since and also has a regular teaching role at Manhattanville College.
“It’s great to be building connections for our students with key theatre centres around the world. This is an important priority for CADA over the next few years,” says academy managing director Elizabeth Avery Scott.
As part of a unit of study on Russian naturalism, CADA’s advanced diploma of performance students have been working with Chapman on a series of scenes from works by Chekhov. Under the title “Scenes from a Russian Twilight”, the students will present a public showing of their exploration in two performances on Friday and Saturday.
Chapman has been putting the students through a range of exercises like those practised at the Moscow Art Theatre School.
“The process is about instilling the students with a passion for creating compelling theatre, as much as about acquainting them with a certain methodology and style of acting,” he says.
“Scenes From A Russian Twilight”, CADA Theatre, 1/9 Lithgow Street, Fyshwick, 8pm, April 12 and 13. Bookings to cada.net.au. All tickets $15.