As part of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s regional Inclusion Project, an initiative which began in 2017 to involve students of all disciplines in a musical production, Meredith Juanita Yi Hui Cheng travelled to Wollongong to perform David Reeves's musical, Seven Little Australians. This internship combined Meredith’s love for production with the opportunity to perform outside the Con. “For me, this internship acted as both a touring experience and a mentoring program,” says Meredith.
The Conservatorium’s Inclusion Project is the brainchild of senior lecturer in voice and stagecraft, Dr Narelle Yeo. Yeo’s ongoing research is based on the importance of mentorship in music performance, and has worked with Wollongong Conservatorium students over the past three years on producing a musical theatre performance with students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music as mentors to the younger Wollongong performers.
Meredith spent three days in Wollongong, which mainly consisted of intensive rehearsals and concluded with a performance at the Spiegeltent Wollongong, a cabaret festival. “During this time, we ran through the musical, focusing especially on scenes with the Wollongong school-aged performers. As the older students, it was our task to make sure that they felt included and were also learning in this environment.”
The most important thing Meredith learned on her internship was the importance of theatre. “Internally, it is such a collaborative experience and working in a production gives you immense respect for every person involved in the process,” says Meredith.
“Moreover, I was able to see the value of theatre for the Wollongong community. It was heart-warming to see such young children being involved in the arts already and having so much fun! I could also see that the families in the audience were enjoying themselves and given the turn-out for the entire festival, theatre is obviously something people find great pleasure in. Performing is so special, for both the performer and the audience, and I hope this tradition continues for many generations to come.”
Internships are a great way for students to explore their chosen career path in a more practical setting. “In my experience, this opportunity simulated how professional productions run and it gave me an honest look into that practice within a safe environment. I also gained confidence from this experience and many skills that I hope to apply to further studies at the Con and future work endeavours,“ added Meredith.
“This internship instilled an incredible sense of community. I formed valuable connections with my peers, the professionals I worked with, and even the community of the area. More than that, it was so rewarding personally to perform with and for those who have less exposure to the arts.”
This experience equipped Meredith with the confidence and skills she’ll need for future projects. “On this internship, I learned the value of leadership, a professional and respectful manner, and cooperation. Most of all, I was reminded of how much joy I find in performing. Despite the inevitable challenges of my future career, I hope to always keep my passion for music alive so that I can share it with others.”
“All in all, I am grateful for this experience and I look forward to whatever's in store for the future.”