YOUTH theatre training company Hunter Drama has launched the region's first online acting classes for young people.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left the entertainment and performing arts industries reeling, the institution is offering a program called HD in HD or Hunter Drama in High Definition, allowing students to continue classes, in real-time, online.
The program, which went online on Monday, allows students to log onto an online portal at the time their regular class would normally take place.
They will be able to see their classmates and will be led by the familiar face of their regular drama teacher who will take the students through a variety of exercises and games, allowing them to share their work and progress, building characters and learning lines with their fellow young actors.
"We've spent the last several days postponing major productions and rescheduling overseas tours which have been tough but necessary decisions," Hunter Drama founder and CEO Daniel Stoddart said.
"The next thing we had to address was our 400-plus students who participate in our drama and musical theatre classes every week across four locations - Newcastle, Maitland, Cessnock and Singleton.
"We needed a creative way to ensure we could deliver them their classes should schools and after-school activities need to close."
Mr Stoddart added that the program provided a safe and innovative way to look after students' wellbeing while ensuring employment for staff and tutors.
"This specially designed distance learning platform is an example of how the arts have a positive impact on our social wellbeing," he said.
"We're really excited to start the program because we think it may open up many other opportunities for learning to those who may not always be able to participate in classes face-to-face."
Mr Stoddart also noted that many arts workers were suffering because of the mass gathering ban which made them unable to generate any income, so that they couldn't afford food and rent.
"HD in HD is a safe and innovative way to not only look after the wellbeing of our students during these uncertain times but it will also ensure our staff and tutors stay in work and are able to pay their bills," Mr Stoddart said.
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