Imagine this: you’re 17 years old with big dreams of becoming a star. You live and breathe acting, and you’re ready to take the stage by storm. That’s exactly how Jack Calver felt, and he knew that Flinders University was the place to turn his dreams into reality.
His decision to choose Flinders for acting
When it comes to pursuing a career in acting, choosing the right institution to study at is crucial. For Jack, the decision was clear: Flinders Drama Centre. Armed with his Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) degree, Jack embarked on a transformative journey that would shape him as a performer.
“Nearing the end of high school, I decided to take a chance and audition for Flinders Drama Centre, as it was the leading drama school in Adelaide. Even though I had already set up my theatre company and performed and produced other Fringe shows whilst still in school, I was never decidedly sure I would continue with acting as a career path, and therefore, moving interstate to study drama didn’t appeal to me. I was fortunate enough to be offered one of the thirteen spots in our cohort, and my trajectory as an actor and theatre-maker was set after that!”
What surprised him most about studying drama
Throughout his time at Flinders, Jack encountered surprising elements in his drama studies. He discovered that the course was more physically demanding and practical than he had anticipated.
“I was not expecting the Drama course to be as physical and practical as it was – I was so grateful for the plethora of movement, character, and voice classes I was provided as it taught me about how much acting involves one’s body and physical presence.”
The multitude of techniques taught by skilled and experienced teachers allowed Jack to cultivate a profound understanding of the craft.
“The volume of techniques offered to us as students at the drama centre provided me with an invaluable craft I would not have been able to curate if I hadn’t been fortunate enough to learn from such skilled and experienced teachers.”
The Flinders student experience
The Flinders experience extended beyond the classroom. What Jack enjoyed most was the strong sense of community that flourished during his time at the drama school.
“I most enjoyed the sense of community created during my time at Flinders – Drama is vastly different to a typical degree, in the sense that we were working so closely with the same group of people full-time.”
Unlike a traditional degree, drama students work closely together, forging deep connections with their peers.
“Flinders really encouraged us to create a supportive environment for all year levels in the course and many of my closest friends were forged out of my time there.”
The challenges of studying Acting
However, Jack also encountered challenges during his studies. As he pursued this unique course, he had to unlearn the mindset of finding a single “right” answer and being wary of mistakes.
“It took a lot of unlearning and rewiring to get out of that high-school mentality where there was always a ‘right’ answer and mistakes were frowned upon.
Acting is such a subjective craft with no ceiling on how great your work can be and as a massive perfectionist myself, it was very easy to feel unsatisfied with my own work.
It took a while to become comfortable with failure and knowing that the more mistakes you made, the closer you were getting to finding something that would work for whatever project you were working on.
And I’ve learned to turn that dissatisfaction into a healthy motivation that stirs me forward and encourages me to keep improving and learning, even after graduating.”
How his life transformed after graduation
Since leaving Flinders, Jack has been fortunate enough to secure remarkable opportunities in the theatre industry.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found some great theatre work so soon after graduating. I was given the chance to understudy for The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and learn from Mitchell Butel (artistic director of State Theatre Company) and Claudia Karvan (star of Bump and Puberty Blues).
When the play transferred to the Sydney Theatre Company, I made my move over to Sydney and have managed to audition for some incredible professional theatre projects, as well as perform in my own work in the same precinct as Bell Shakespeare, ATYP, to name a few. In my short time since being in Sydney, I have been blessed to meet so many leading creatives and actors who I’ve admired for so long and hear their advice on starting out as well.”
His aspiration is to explore more opportunities in film and television, as Sydney hosts several exciting upcoming screen projects.
“As long as I can continue learning and meeting other incredible artists, I’ll be happy with whatever may pop up!”
His advice to anyone considering studying Acting at Flinders
“Prepare yourself for some of the most informative, valuable, challenging, and life-transforming years of your life. Acting is such personal work and the experiences you’ll have in the Flinders course will not only shape you fundamentally as an actor but as a person. It’ll require a great deal of self-belief, time and dedication but it’ll allow you to practice the thing you love the most, at the highest standard you can achieve.”
His current project Unfair Verona
Unfair Verona exemplifies the fusion of Jack’s studies at Flinders and his creative endeavours.
“Unfair Verona is a devised new work, comprised of around seventy percent of the original Romeo & Juliet text and thirty percent original work our cast has devised ourselves. It follows two understudy actors and their Stage Manager who have to step in at the last minute to put on a production of the classic love story, because their once-professional theatre company has been gradually losing funding and support over the years.
It was indirectly influenced by many of the metatheatre works I stumbled across when learning scriptwriting with Caleb Lewis and Emma Beech last year. While I was still in Adelaide, I explored and fleshed out the story premise in workshops with other fellow actors from the Flinders course, and those workshops created the script that I brought in on day one of our Sydney rehearsals.”
As both producer and performer, Jack has found immense fulfillment in using comedy to explore a topic he is passionate about.
“It has given our cast (compromised of two other graduates from NIDA) a chance to be extremely versatile with the twenty characters we embody and stretch both our acting and creative muscles.”
What are you waiting for? Discover more about studying acting, directing or theatre-making at Flinders.
Or experience the talent and passion of the 2023 Graduating Flinders Drama Students at their final year performance from 25 – 28 July: Coming of Age in the Twenty First Century. Tickets available here.