Acting workshop gives Nanango Theatre the edge

Young theatre stars Reggie Jenner and Tyson Tunstall rehearse their scene together at the Nanango Theatre Company’s two-day Meisner acting workshop lead by local talent, Mathew Costin. Pictures: Kate McCormack

The humble Nanango Theatre Company’s headquarters were transformed into a world-class acting school over the weekend with coach and Meisner-technique mentor, Mathew Costin leading a two-day workshop for a dozen eager participants.

Costin said he was impressed by the calibre of the local actors and actresses who poured their heart and soul into the intense experience, which explored techniques to allow participants to learn the ways of American theatre icon, Sanford Meisner who encouraged actors to focus on external factors for inspiration through several innovative techniques.

“Everyone has blown me out of the water with how fast they took to the techniques and excelled in the activities,” he said.

“The goal was to help take local actors and the theatre company to new heights by arming them with the tools to create truly organic stories, relationships and characters on the stage and I think all of the participants have definitely achieved that this weekend.”

There are only half a dozen people qualified to teach the Meisner technique in Australia and the South Burnett is fortunate to be home to one of them with Costin who trained at the Actors Pulse in Sydney under Billy Milionis, a personal student of Meisner himself.

“To have such a diverse and fun group of creative people in the one building was inspiring in itself,” Costin said.

“The age range of the participants spanned from 17 to 83, with Nanango Theatre Company veteran Jocelyn Richardson the oldest person I’ve ever taught the workshop to and she was an absolute crackerjack all weekend.”

The youngster of the weekend and Nanango Theatre Company newcomer, Reggie Jenner (17), said he gained plenty of valuable tips and tricks for his upcoming stage debut.

“Mathew has helped me learn lots of good ways to get my lines down nice and fast so that I can focus more on developing my character and putting more energy into his story,” he said.

“I’ve learnt there’s a lot more multi-tasking happening on stage that I wasn’t necessarily aware of so it’s been great to discover how to harness your fellow actors’ presence on stage to make your performance more authentic.”

Jane Hodgkinson from Neumgna, near Yarraman, said this was her first time getting up on the Nanango stage in 30 years.

“I’m definitely not an actress, I normally shy away from all forms of performance,” she said.

“But this first acting workshop has been a great chance for me to get out of my comfort zone and push myself to try something new, have some fun and meet new people.”

With the potential to expand the weekend’s workshop into regular acting classes, Nanango’s thespians are bound to continue to benefit from Costin’s wealth of stagecraft knowledge.

“It’s been a great opportunity for local actors, directors and theatre newcomers to gain skills to take our theatre to the next level,” Nanango Theatre Company treasurer Jon Fearnley said.

“We’re very grateful to the Regional Arts Development Fund for their grant contribution, which allowed us to make the workshop financially accessible for everyone.”

You can catch several of these local talents as they tread the boards next month in Nanango Theatre Company’s first production for the year, a collection of hilarious one act romantic comedies from 25 March to 2 April with ticket information to be released in the coming weeks.