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The Actor to Director Pipeline

By Cynda Beare


Hello! I’m Cynda! Bridge project alumnus and current third year at the Victorian College of the Arts.

 

PAST:

May as well start from the beginning. When I was eight years old, my big sister flew me to Naarm (Melbourne) and took me to see the professional touring production of Annie the Musical. I decided three things on that day. I was going to be an actor, I was going to live in Naarm, and I was going to study at the Victorian College of the Arts. Being from regional North Queensland, I didn’t quite know how I was going to do these things. Just that it was going to happen.

 

Naturally, because I was a queer, trans, neuro-diverse kid, school was not easy for me. I got through it by putting my head down, doing as much theatre as possible, and holding out to audition for VCA. I had heard it was unlikely to be accepted into a drama school at 18, so knew I had to make a plan for the mean time. That’s when TheatreINQ came into the picture.

Arminelle Fleming, legendary TheatreINQ ensemble member, founder of Acting With Arminelle, and all round excellent theatre educator, visited my grade eleven drama class at Kirwan High and told us about this little thing called The Bridge Project. And that was that.

 

The day I auditioned for The Bridge, I had just gotten back from Brisbane, having done my first unsuccessful VCA audition the day before. I remember sitting in the old Allen Street office thinking ‘I have to get this. I am going to get this’. I shuffled into the room, Terri Brabon and Brendan O’Conner sitting at a table in front of me. Absolutely shitting myself. I set my shaking hands at my sides and decided this was going to be the best rendition of the Jailer’s Daughter monologue from Two Gentlemen of Verona they had ever seen. A year later, I would reveal to Terri just how nervous I was during that audition, and she would respond with surprise. Apparently I seemed fine!


Pictured: Cynda Beare and Rosalili Ford in rehearsal (2020)


The Bridge became much more than something to do in the time between high school and VCA. It became a second family. I met my best friend and favourite person in the world, Rosalili Ford (Incredible actress, currently killing it at WAAPA), learned extremely important foundational skills, played my dream Shakespeare role, Joan La Pucelle in The White Rose and the Red, and, vitally, got to observe Terri Brabon direct. As my time at The Bridge went on, my desire to make my own work, and write and direct my own art, grew. When 2022 intake VCA auditions rolled around, I opted to audition for the Theatremaking course instead of Acting. And I am so glad I did.


Pictured: Cynda Beare as Joan la Pucelle in THE WHITE ROSE AND THE RED (2021)

 

PRESENT:

Beginning my first year at VCA was terrifying to say the least. I had literally been building this place up in my mind since I was eight years old. I would soon discover that the relationships I would form with classmates, mentors, and industry professionals in my time at VCA are more valuable than anything an institution could teach. I have met some incredible people and gotten to know many fascinating artistic minds whilst here in the big city. But the most impactful lesson I have learned is how much I love and miss Townsville.

 

Which brings me to EQUALS. 

VCA has this amazing festival every winter break called MUSE. Unlike anything at any drama school in the world, MUSE is completely student run and organised. Every winter, for an entire week, BFA students take over the VCA theatre building and produce our very own, independent, original work. I personally believe some of the best theatre in Naarm comes out of this festival.

In my second year, I decided I was going to write and direct a play. Now, I have been writing stories, poems, films, plays, etc. since I can remember, but before EQUALS, I had never let a play script see the light of day.


 Pictured: A Promo Poster for EQUALS


Here’s the pitch:

Stuck in a bathroom, outside a sharehouse party.

Follow two lost souls on their journey to finding middle ground as they argue over every emotion that comes with moving away from your hometown.

A culmination of a widely felt Melbourne experience, this city is big and cold and lonely, and, in the beginning, it can feel like all you have is yourself.

Watch them quack like ducks, relate to Joan of Arc, do the Nutbush, and figure out their super objectives. This one’s for the small town kids. 


Pictured: Ivy Miller, Stage manager for EQUALS, and Cynda Beare behind the tech desk.

 

EQUALS is, at it’s core, a love letter to Townsville.

Directing that play was a foundational, vulnerable, emotional, deeply rich experience, and is what made me realise that directing is what I want to do with my life.

I literally have a tattoo of the set.

I love that show.

If I talk about it too much, I will cry.

Feel free to stalk my Instagram for a very long, sappy post about it.

 

Since EQUALS, I have written many more scripts, two of which have had some form of public performance. You may be familiar with Etty: A Christmas Dramedy, which was a part of TheatreINQ’s Playground festival last year and will be read again in this year's Festival as a two-act version.


 Pictured: The public reading for Etty: A Christmas Dramedy (TheatreiNQ PlayGround Festival 2023)

 

FUTURE:

I’m currently in my last year of VCA. Every potential long term plan I have leads back to North Queensland. I want to make things for the people I love. I want to show the people of regional QLD that our stories are rich, and funny, and interesting, and worth telling. I want to show queer kids in small towns that there is hope and community in their future. There are many ways I could do this, and I’m currently exploring a few options. I won’t go through them now, though. Spoilers!

 

To conclude, if you want to do theatre in any capacity, audition for The Bridge Project! I am endlessly grateful for the foundation TheatreINQ has given me, and the continued mentorship, community, and support I still receive from this one-of-a-kind company.

 

Signing off from Naarm,

Cynda <3

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