Welcome to our HOW YOUTH DRAMA CHANGED MY LIFE series.

Here we ask members of our community to reflect on their experience with youth drama and discuss how it has impacted their life and career. In Volume 1, we hear from Lawyer & Performer Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Personal Trainer Matthew Woodcock and Health Emergency Management & Theatre Director Jess Davis.

By Vaishnavi Suryaprakash (Lawyer & Helpmann Award Winning Performer)

“I’ve always loved performing. My first steps into this world happened in primary school through the school plays, where we did an adaptation of Peter Pan. I played Wendy – and this prompted an amazing South Asian reimagining and casting of the Darling family! Drama helped focus my overactive imagination into useful channels. It encouraged me to think about what it might feel like to have someone else’s opinions or beliefs, and made me more open to other perspectives. It also made me more confident in talking to others – whether that be a personal tete-a-tete, or giving a presentation to a big group. I loved the freedom I felt through drama so much that I’ve now become a professional actor. But the skills I learnt (and still learn!) have also translated into other areas of my life. I’ve become a more creative problem-solver, manage my time well, and best of all, I still feel like a kid with a constant curiosity with the world.”

Vaishnavi performing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at NIDA, 2016. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams.

By Matthew Woodcock (Personal Trainer)

“I joined drama in year 10 back when I was a shy little boy. I only joined at the time because I thought it would be an easy class that I could relax in but I never knew how much it would push me emotionally to come out of my shell. Today I am a personal trainer and as a trainer you need to be confident and well-spoken in order to train someone well.

I would never have been able to come as far as I have in the fitness industries without the confidence I obtained from doing drama in year 10, 11 and 12.”

By Jess Davis (Health Emergency Management & Theatre Director)

“You can ask any of my family, friends or colleagues and they’ll all tell you that I am a drama QUEEN 👑. My love of drama grew out of doing dance as a kid and getting more and more excited about the dances where we had speaking roles – eventually drama became my true passion and I never looked back! I was lucky to have great drama programs and opportunities throughout school, which really helped me push through comfort zones and make great friends.

I decided to get a degree in Theatre and Performance, which I count as one of the best decisions I’ve made. It was a fantastic degree with incredible lecturers, classmates and opportunities galore. If I had to choose a favourite role from university, it was playing Hermia from A Midsummer Night’s Dream – a character that I originally didn’t feel a strong connection to but now couldn’t imagine a better character for me to play!

Whilst I have always loved performing, these days I tend to focus on directing – I’ve co-founded an independent theatre company, Eye Contact Theatre Company, and I also direct for other independent and community companies. Outside of theatre entirely, I work in health emergency management and sometimes I feel like I use the skills that drama taught me in this job even more than in my directing life! A lifetime of drama has given me confidence when I speak in meetings, creativity to look for alternative solutions and above all, the ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes.”

Tell Us Your Story

We want to hear from YOU! Send your story on the topic of HOW YOUTH DRAMA CHANGED MY LIFE, and an accompanying photo, to

Not sure what to say? Here’s some ideas:

  • How did you get involved in drama?
  • How did drama it benefited you at the time / your development as a young person?
  • What you do now?
  • How you applied the skills or benefits of drama to your life as an adult and/or in your career?

We can’t wait to hear from you!

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