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Hunter Drama enters exciting ‘new’ phase in 2024


“Grease” was the word for Frankie Valli in 1978.

And, in 2024, “new” is the buzzword for Hunter Drama.

The region’s leading provider in theatrical education will expand its horizons this year with additional locations, classes, productions and staff.

Established in 2007, the organisation has cemented a reputation as an institution, which provides excellence and professionalism in the areas of young actor training, musical theatre and the dramatic arts.

That comes in the form of numerous initiatives, including programs, ensembles and workshops, for children from kindergarten age right through to 18+.

And, with the introduction of a Lakelands premises – joining venues in Islington, Broadmeadow, Singleton, Cessnock, Valentine and Morpeth – more talent will be fostered, too.

Hunter Drama artistic director James Chapman is excited about the changes moving forward.

“It feels like there is a new energy to everything we are doing,” he said.

“We’re pleased to be opening the Lakelands studio to extend our reach.

“We believe in providing the highest quality drama education in a supportive and nurturing environment.

“In 2024, we’re introducing Improv classes and our popular Writer’s Lab is returning for aspiring playwrights. 

“The study of drama can be transformative, teaching skills that improve confidence and self-esteem, social connection and relationships, public speaking, empathy, creativity and general communication.

“In fact, it can change lives, we witness it every day.

“It’s an incredibly rewarding part of our work.

“To see our young people shine, to watch them develop life skills that are directly transferable to any career, not just the performing arts.”

Delivering the program of workshops and working behind the scenes are some new faces that include head of drama Matthew Harper, who holds a Bachelor of Teaching (Humanities) (Honours) and recently submitted his Doctor of Philosophy thesis at the University of Newcastle.

He is highly-committed to ensuring fun, inclusive and significant learning, while nurturing young people’s confidence, collaboration, empathy and imagination.

Other newcomers include studio manager Brooke Page, who taught dance – jazz, tap, hip-hop, ballet and even Irish dancing for more than 15 years – and media and marketing manager Liane Morris, who boasts significant experience in arts marketing (Sydney Symphony, ABC, Riverside Theatres and Newcastle Fringe). 

In the meantime, Hunter Drama is also gearing up to present six shows in 2024: The Jungle Book in April, Love and Information in May, The Passport Play in June, School of Rock in July, Carrie the Musical in August and Game Night in December.

Every production features local students and offers performance opportunities at either the Civic Theatre, Civic Playhouse or the Performance Arts Culture Cessnock (PACC).

Enrolments are now open with term one beginning the week starting 5 February.

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