17 March 2023

Cynthia Arel's long journey to find her place in the world of theatre production

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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woman drawing

Cynthia Arel will be teaching the Design for Performance strand of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts’ regional program NIDA CONNECT in Leeton. Photo: Supplied.

Cynthia Arel feels teaching will be a great challenge for her.

“It’s one thing to understand and be able to do something yourself, but to teach others requires additional skills,” she said.

Cynthia has been chosen to teach the Design for Performance strand of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts’ (NIDA) regional program NIDA CONNECT at the Roxy Institute of Performing Arts (RIPA) in Leeton.

NIDA CONNECT is a national program designed for and dedicated to outer-metropolitan and regional communities across Australia and provides a wide range of creative opportunities across live and digital storytelling.

The program will provide access to world-class creative industry training for local teaching artists and aspiring young people – regional students aged 15 to 18 looking to train in acting, writing, design and technical production.

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Cynthia told Region it was an honour to have been chosen as one of the four local teaching artists for NIDA CONNECT.

“I am so excited for both the Train the Trainer and the teaching portions of the program. I keep feeling like I need to pinch myself to make sure it’s real,” she said.

Cynthia said the NIDA CONNECT program would bring world-class performing arts education to the Riverina.

“For regional residents, obtaining this type of training would usually mean travelling to and staying in a major city, which is not a viable option for many,” she said.

“The trainers and students involved in the NIDA CONNECT program will benefit directly from the education they receive through the program.

“This can then be used to create new, regional content as well as teach others and grow our creative community.”

woman painting

Cynthia returns to Leeton after 20 years. Photo: Supplied.

Cynthia’s goals through the program are to gain an understanding of NIDA’s values and teaching methods and expand on her knowledge of how her design skills can be best used in the performing arts industry.

She also hopes to do her best to assist her students on their creative journey.

“As the teachers, we are very well supported by NIDA and I’m just really looking forward to working with the students and supporting them in their creative processes.”

Cynthia grew up in Leeton before moving away for almost 20 years. She returned with her husband and eldest child to raise the family in her home town.

Cynthia has taken quite a long road to find her place in the world of theatre production.

“For 10 years, I lived in Seattle, where I trained as a kitchen and bath designer,” she said.

”This allowed me to develop both technical and creative skills, which translate well to designing for theatre.”

She has always “made things from clothing to sculptures and everything in between”.

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Coming from a creative family and surrounded by creative friends, Cynthia was able to learn a lot from them.

In 2021 she worked as set design supervisor on The Roxy’s Henry V, under the mentorship of Simon Greer.

“This opened my eyes to a world where my odd mix of designer and maker skills are incredibly useful, and I just loved it!”

Since then, she has assisted with costume, set and props on several small local theatre productions and is currently working on costumes for Griffith Regional Theatre’s The Wedding Singer – The Musical.

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