The Drama School
Teaching Staff

“What makes the National great is how grounded it is. It teaches you so many things but most importantly that if you want to work in this industry, you have to work hard and really want it.” Eddie Orton Graduate 2014

Trent Baker
Director of Drama

Trent has over 20 years experience in the Australian entertainment industry as an educator, theatre director and actor. He is a graduate of WAAPA’s three-year acting stream, the VCA’s postgraduate directing program and an International Fellow of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London. He also trained for a two year period with renowned Michael Chekhov teacher Daniele Legler.

One of the 12 actors that created Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Trent has performed for Melbourne Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Red Stitch, Railway St Theatre, 45 Downstairs and La Mama theatre. He has also worked extensively in film and television in Australia.

As a director and educator he has worked in both the Theatre and Musical Theatre undergraduate courses at W.A.A.P.A. and  V.C.A. Melbourne Theatre Company main stage and Education, Bell Shakespeare, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Spiegeltent Melbourne, St Martins Youth Theatre, Monash and La Trobe universities and The National Theatre Drama School. He is also a teaching artist internationally for ISTA (International Schools Theatre Association).

His teaching specialties are Shakespeare in Performance, Improvisation and Mike Alfreds technique.

Danielle Carter

Danielle Carter is an acclaimed actress with over 35years experience in film, television and theatre and is also a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art. She has also trained at the Moscow Arts Theatre School, MICHA and the Michael Chekhov School in Hudson New York.

She has worked as an on set Acting tutor for various film and television productions, works with professional actors as a performance coach, has written a book for Currency Press called Racing Against Timean Actors guide for working in film and television and has directed productions for St Martins Youth Theatre and the undergraduate course at the Victorian College of the Arts.

She has a Diploma of Education from UWS and has taught in the undergraduate courses at WAPPA (Acting and Theatre Making), VCA (Film and Television, the Acting and Musical Theatre departments) Federation University, NIDA Open programme, The National Theatre Drama School, 16th Street, Film and Television International and St Martins Youth Theatre.

Les Cartwright

After training as a Voice and Speech specialist teacher, he was awarded the Dorothy Dwyer Memorial Scholarship by the University of Melbourne, and pursued advanced studies in luminary teachers Greta Colson, Cicely Berry, Patsy Rodenburg and Rowena Balos.

In 1992 he was invited to the first International Conference of Theatre Voice Teachers at the RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK; and in 2010 he presented a seminar-workshop for the British Voice Association on Extending the Actor’s Range.

In Addition to teaching at the National Theatre Drama School, Les has taught voice for the MTC and Malthouse, as well as VCA, NIDA, Federation university and 16th Street Studio.

He has worked as Voice/Dialect coach on many theatre productions, including The Boy from OZ (Todd McKenny tour), Reg Cribb’s Last Train to Freo, Stephen Sewell’s Nil, Cat and Buried, and Marguerite Duras’ Agatha.

For TV he is voice consultant to Fremantle Media Group and works regularly with the actors in Neighbours.

Vincent Crowley

Vincent has been teaching actors, dancers, office workers, mums and dads how to move better and how to perform better for the last nineteen years.  He has taught in professional dance and theatre companies in Australia and Europe, Arts training colleges, corporate workshops, boot camps and one-to-one personal training sessions.

His broad range of physical training and performance experience ranges from classical ballet through contemporary dance, contact improvisation, strength and conditioning and the Feldenkrais Method.  He has taught movement to actors, dancers and opera singers in both professional companies and tertiary institutions in Germany and Australia.  He has been teaching at the National Theatre Drama School Advanced Diploma since 2012.

Having trained as an actor Vincent has spent much of his performance career working in Dance Theatre and Physical Theatre. He has worked in Australia, the US and Europe with companies and artists such as Meryl Tankard’s Australian Dance Theatre, TanzTheater Basel, Salzburger Festwochen, Schauspiel Koeln, Steierischer Herbst, Chunky Move and Force Majeur.  He also worked with director Spike Jonze on the Warner Brothers Movie “Where the Wild Things Are”.

He is a founding member of both Splinter Group and Torque Show and has co-created a number of theatre works with these companies including “Lawn”. and “Intimacy”.   “Intimacy” was invited to London’s Southbank Centre as part of the Unlimited Festival and won the 2015 Australian Dance award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance. “Lawn” was the recipient multiple Green Room Awards in 2009.

His broad range of physical training and performance experience ranges from classical ballet through contemporary dance, contact improvisation, personal training and the Feldenkrais Method.  He has taught movement to actors and dancers in both professional companies and tertiary institutions in Germany and Australia.  He has been teaching at the National Theatre Drama School Advanced Diploma since 2012.

Margaret Mills

A graduate of VCA School of Drama Margaret has performed in over thirty productions with MTC, The Malthouse, La Mama, Belvoir St, STC, Black Sequin Productions, Whistling in the Theatre and Ranters Theatre with such writers and directors as Andrew Bovell, Jenny Kemp, Neil Armfield, Roger Hodgman, Marguerite Duras, Daniel Keene, Raimondo and Adriano Cortese, Melissa Reeves, and Noelle Janaczewska. Credits include The Doll’s House, Angels in America, A Cheery Soul, History of Water, Still Angela, The Black Sequin Dress, Speaking in Tongues(from which Lantana was adapted). She has co-written several produced plays. Her film work includes The Golden Braid (Paul Cox), Bachelor Girl (Rivka Hartman) and the international award winning short film The Other Days of Ruby Rae.

Katie Cawthorne

Katie began directing in 2002, producing work in Melbourne, Mexico, Darwin, Sydney and Canberra. In 2015 she completed her Masters of Fine Arts in Directing at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), after previously qualifying at the University of Melbourne (Graduate Diploma of Education) and Flinders University (Bachelor of Arts).

She became the Artistic Director of Canberra Youth Theatre in January 2015 and has since directed SKIN, The 24 Hour Butoh Project, The Verbatim Project, The Greek Project – Antigone poem every day and Filtered with CYT. In 2016 Katie was awarded a Canberra Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Revitalising and advancing Canberra Youth Theatre.

Since graduating from NIDA, Katie has also directed short works for Warehouse Circus, The Public Theatre (Design Canberra Festival) and Aspen Island Theatre Company. Katie is co-founder of The Anchor theatre company, which produced its first show, How Are You? at The Public Theatre in 2015. The team are developing a full length version of this work to be performed in Sydney in late 2018.

Harry Haynes

Harry Haynes trained at Drama Centre London, originally from the UK he now lives and works in Melbourne. A theatre maker, Harry worked extensively with theatre collective Dirty Market creating modern responses to classical texts. As an actor he has worked The Almeida, Shakespeare’s Globe, BBC, ITV and FOX. He is passionate about supporting emerging artists and championing new voices in theatre.

He teaches a the work of Uta Hagen which was developed by Doreen Canon at Drama Centre London which further explores the ideas of Action and Objective as conceived by Konstantin Stanislavsky.

Rob Meldrum

Rob has worked in theatre for 40 years, as an actor , director and teacher. As an actor he was a member of the APG collective at the Pram Factory, Carlton, and went on to work as a freelance actor with all the major theatre companies, including Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Playbox, the South Australia Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare, where he was an ensemble member for three years.

Rob’s teaching practice has developed from his training as a voice teacher with Rowena Balos, and subsequent laboratory work with Rex Cramphorn, Jenny Kemp, Renato Cuocolo, Robert Draffin and Lindy Davies, as well as 8 years as a lecturer in acting in the Drama School at The Victorian College of the Arts. He has also directed at both a collegiate and professional level, as well as devising his own work. Rob works constantly with two major focuses: One, that you are being breathed, and therefore in the moment. Two, that you are deeply engaged with the words you are speaking. The first implies release and the second, research and then receptivity, together they enable the transformative action of language to mould and shape the voice into a living breathing character, un-judged and uninhibited. The rest is play.

Sancia Robinson

Sancia Robinson is a NIDA graduate and has performed lead roles for STC, Belvoir, MTC, Malthouse along with numerous guest roles on TV including ‘City Homicide’ ‘We Can Be Heroes’ and a recurring role on ‘Neighbours’. She also co-createda one-woman-show for STC which toured to Edinburgh and internationally to sold out audiences “Five stars out of five: kill to get a ticket.The Scotsman” In 2015 she directed a sold-out production of this play, for the ‘Seymour Centre’ in Sydney. The play has been published- and also made into a book with ‘Random House’ title: What is the Matter with Mary Jane. Sanciaalso has a successful career behind the scenes as a television talent producer. Her work here includes ‘Spicks and Specks’ ABC TV, ‘First Contact II” Blackfella Films SBS, “Luke Warm Sex’ ABC, TV ‘Everyone’s a Critic’ Matchbox Pictures SBS ‘Thank God You’re Here’ Working Dog “Martin/Molloy” and ‘The Panel’ amongst many others. Sancia teaches at NIDA, NIDA Open, 16 th Street, AP studios, privately and very proudly at the National Theatre.

Charlie Cousins

A graduate of WAAPA (Acting), Charlie is an actor, director, and teacher withover 20 years experience working in theatre, film, and television for suchcompanies as STC, Bell Shakespeare, Red Stitch, Monkey Baa, Complete Works Theatre, The Old Fitz, 45 Downstairs, ABC, and Warner Brothers Studios. Alongside his acting teaching, he is also a qualified life coach and meditation teacher, mentoring and supporting practitioners and industry leaders to navigate their way with their craft and careers with more resilience, ethical authenticity, and generosity of spirit. A passionate life long learner of the craft he has also studied under Mike Alfreds, Patsy Rodenburg, Larry Moss, and Ian Rickson. He specialises in teaching Mike Alfreds and Uta Hagen’s work. And is deeply committed to carrying on their legacy and creating theatre that truly lives and is transformational.

Annie Lee

Annie Lee is a professional actor, singer, writer, director and teacher with over 30 year’s experience in the creative arts. Annie has performed in countless productions, including playing leading roles in major works of Shakespeare, Berkoff and Dario Fo. She is creator and director of several popular large scale shows and cabarets works that have performed at major festivals across Australia and Europe, and is co-creator of the multi-award-winning musical trio, The Kransky Sisters, playing elder sister Mourne. Annie is a passionate teacher, dedicated to sharing skills and developing and nurturing students of the arts in many sectors of the community. For the past seventeen years she has worked in various institutions teaching acting, clowning, physical theatre, comedy and cabaret, with a focus on creating original work.

Lisle Jones

Lisle Jones was an honorary lecturer in acting at the National Theatre from 2012-2019. Lisle was one of the last living connections to the early days of the National Theatre Drama School and began his acting career here in the 1950’s under Gertrude Johnson, the founder of the National Theatre. Lisle’s early career in Australia included joining Stratford’s Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company (The precursor to the R.S.C.) on their first Australian Tour. He went to Britain in 1958 where he worked extensively as a professional actor and headed the drama department of London’s Arts Educational School for a number of years. He was then invited to return to Australia to join recently formed W.A.A.P.A. (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) first as Head of Acting, then as Head of the Theatre Department. He retired in 1995 and returned to Melbourne (his home town) to live in St Kilda. We remember Lisle with great fondness as a teacher of absolute rigor and as a theatre practitioner who, to quote Declan Donnellan artistic director of Cheek by Jowl, “…cared so much, ferociously, about invisible things, crucial things that cannot be bought or sold, the only things that make life worth living.” Some of Lisle’s many high profile ex students include Declan Donnellan, Hugh Jackman, Steven Berkoff, Penelope Keith,  Frances O’Connor (A.I, The Importance of Being Earnest)  Dominic Purcell (Prison Break, Blade Trinity) , William McInnes (The Slap, Sea change)  and Robert Taylor (The Matrix, Longmire). But the number of people influenced and guided by Lisle is countless. His great influence on the Australian and world stages as a teacher and mentor cannot be underestimated.