Performing Arts NO CURTAIN CALL ON CREATIVITY
HEAD Honcho of the Australian Musical Theatre Academy (AMTA) Queenie van de Zandt is no stranger to the stage.
The actress and singer, who has appeared in Into the Woods, Cabaret, Les Misérables, and The Boy from Oz (to name a few), now shares her extensive industry experience in children’s theatre workshops.
Ms van de Zandt became interested in teaching theatre and audition technique after recognising the mistakes she and many friends made as young actors.
“I saw so many people who were talented but never got jobs because they were really bad at auditioning. When I started to teach I saw an opportunity to bring something unique to the teaching field,” Ms van de Zandt said.
“People didn’t know how to audition for musicals and so I started teaching that skill to my students.”
AMTA workshops in drama, musical theatre, cabaret and audition technique are delivered all around Australia and have had an incredible rate of success in students being cast in professional shows.
“When the Sound of Music came to Brisbane more than half of the kids cast in the show had done my workshop. That was a phenomenal result, and made me realise there was a real cause and effect; learning audition technique really made a difference,” Ms van de Zandt said.
“These kids are getting cast because they are well prepared, they turn up knowing what they need to do, they feel confident, and they walk into a room and can really show their talent.”
Ms van de Zandt said her workshops also teach parents what to expect in auditions, as producers often take into consideration whether or not they can work with the child’s parents as well.
“We help the parents navigate how to act professionally, how to put together a proper CV, how to get a really good headshot for their child, how to get an agent, what to do and what not to do,” she said.
“We also give them all the information about their legal rights and their children’s rights, which helps the parents feel more confident.”
The skills learnt by students of any age are highly transferrable to many different fields and any audition scenario – like a job interview.
Ms van de Zandt said that, while the workshops are run by professionals in the industry to prepare young people for the industry, anyone can benefit from the content.
“The workshops are great fun and great for building confidence and speech skills and all sorts of skills, especially for developing kid’s creativity,” she said.
“Creativity is highly sought after in the corporate world and is essential to employability because creativity is what helps you problem solve,” she said.
AMTA is bringing workshops and incursions into schools to help teachers develop students’ skills in drama and performing arts.
“I’m passionate about making the arts more valued by Australians and I think that starts at primary school with schools embracing the creativity of drama at an early age,” Ms van de Zandt said.
“All our workshops are delivered by high level performers, creatives, musical directors and producers in the industry – they are people who currently work in the business in big commercial musicals. The same way as football players from Carlton might visit schools and take workshops – I want to do the same with performers,” she said.
“I want to bring the famous performers into schools and have kids be so inspired because they know who they are – they’ve seen them in shows or on television – and have them pass on their skill to children and teachers in schools.”
Ms van de Zandt said the workshops would be beneficial professional development for drama teachers who may have experience in the education sector but not in the professional performing arts industry.
“We want to teach the teachers how to put on a musical, how to teach audition technique for their students and inspire them to be creative,” she said.
Cameron Daddo with Sound Of Music kids. Performing arts skills extend beyond the stage and ensure children develop creativity and confidence to approach any audition or job interview scenario.
Queenie with her students in Sound of Music.