Arun Clarke’s desire to follow his dream of acting is a story of perseverance and persistence.
The Mango Hill actor returned home from Sydney in time for Christmas after almost a year away from family and friends thanks to COVID-19 border restrictions.
Accepted into the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art – which counts among its alumni the likes of Cate Blanchette, Mel Gibson and Miranda Otto – the 24-year-old left Brisbane in January expecting to pop back for a visit mid-year.
Instead, he was forced to stay in Sydney and learn more about his craft via video conference – not ideal in an industry that traditionally relies on people interacting in person.
“COVID hit and I was stuck in a tiny apartment on Zoom,” Arun laughs.
“I spent 9-5 every day trying to do acting stuff.
“This year (at NIDA) has been getting to know yourself – rolling on the floors and walls and getting to know your body.”
He says that proved quite a challenge in the confines of an apartment, but in hindsight the experience of being outside his comfort zone has improved him as an actor.
“When you first go there (to NIDA), there’s so much going on – there’s a lot happening and you take it for granted a bit.
“But then those last six months (after lockdown restrictions eased) being able to get back into the building was awesome.”
Arun, who went to school at North Lakes State College, says he was thrilled to be accepted into NIDA after auditioning in 2017 and again in 2018 before securing a spot at the end of last year.
The Lucases invited Arun to join their independent theatre company after seeing him perform in a Focus on Stage production at the end of Year 12 and helped him rehearse for each of his NIDA auditions.
“They helped me out a lot – not just with acting – they are like a second family.”
While he was disappointed not to secure a spot at NIDA after his first two auditions, Arun has no regrets and says his teachers agree the two-year wait was beneficial.
“We have a quarterly review and they told me it’s really awesome to see somebody who got in at the right time.
“If I had gotten in the first time. I would not have had the same experience - I couldn’t image being in any other cohort.
“That year (before his third application) I did a lot of work in Brisbane and worked with other companies I didn’t usually work with, which was really helpful.”