NIDA comes out: the stories we couldn’t tell you

January 17, 2019

NIDA turns 60 and comes out

NIDA comes out: the stories we couldn’t tell you

NIDA turns 60 and comes out

Tom Ballard opens NIDA’s year of 60th anniversary celebrations with In Conversation: Love is Love, examining LGBTQI+ stories on stage and screen

For almost half of NIDA’s 60 years, homosexual activity was illegal, persecuted and discriminated against at all levels of law and society in Australia. This had a major impact on how LGBTQI+ stories were told on stage and screen – if at all.

This Valentine’s Day, to open NIDA’s 60th anniversary celebrations, multi-award-winning Australian storytellers including comedian and broadcaster Tom Ballard, Sydney Theatre Company Artistic Director Kip Williams, and award-winning performance artist and theatre director Harriet Gillies, come to NIDA to lead In Conversation: Love is Love.

The panel discussion will look at LGBTQI+ depictions in film, theatre and television, and their impact on the lived experience and the national consciousness, including controversies such as straight actors playing gay and lesbian roles, and whether gender fluid roles are being written and viewed differently.

Australia’s most iconic LGBTQI+ story, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, starring NIDA graduate Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp­, was released 10 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW, but its writer-director Stephan Elliott didn’t come out as gay to the Australian public until 2012.

For most of Australian history, being LGBTQI+ was not only illegal, but could end someone’s career and even put their life in danger.

In 2019, those dark times seem well behind us as a cohort of NIDA students are busy fundraising and preparing for NIDA’s inaugural participation in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, an initiative the students spearheaded themselves.

It signifies an important milestone, not only for NIDA, but also for Australia, reflecting a cultural turning point in the stories Australia is now eager to tell.

In Conversation: Love is Love will be held on Thursday 14 February 2019 from 6pm at NIDA’s Parade Theatre. Tickets available from

1959 – 2019: NIDA’s In Conversation series

Celebrating six decades of supporting Australian storytellers on stage and screen, NIDA’s In Conversation event series brings together exceptional Australian artists and arts practitioners to talk about their work and career path, as well as the inspirations and challenges that shaped their creative voices and craft.

In Conversation: Love is Love

When: 14 February, 2019

Where: Parade Theatre, National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), 215 Anzac Pde, Kensington NSW 2033

How much: $50/$40, including a glass of sparkling for ages 18+, or a free soft drink for under 18s


About NIDA

The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) is Australia’s leading institution for education and training in the dramatic arts. Under the guidance of NIDA tutors, and the leadership of the Board of Directors and Academic Board, NIDA has grown to become a world leader, with a highly-regarded educational program of graduate and undergraduate degrees, vocational diplomas, open short courses, school-holiday programs, and corporate training.

NIDA is celebrating 60 years in 2019. Our graduates, such as Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Jessica Marais, Kip Williams, Sarah Snook and many more, have been recognised for their contribution to the success and vibrancy of the Australian and international arts and entertainment industries. Our actors, designers, writers, directors, and technical and production professionals go on to achieve acclaim on the stage, on screen, and at major cultural events, creating new ways to share stories with audiences around the world