2 January 2024

Trading small-town productions for study in the 'big smoke' of Sydney

| Claire Sams
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Man standing in front of a glass door

Luke Ryan is well on his path to a career in stage productions. Photo: Supplied.

While some people know from early childhood what they want to do with their lives, Luke Ryan’s path was a little less straightforward.

The 21-year-old from Mossy Point stumbled on his love of managing sound and lighting through school assemblies.

“I had a few friends who were a part of it and they nagged me, nagged me and nagged me to help,” he said.

“To be completely honest, I did it purely just so that they would stop asking.

“I’d love to say there was some beautiful story, but no – I did it purely because people were irritating me.”

He volunteered his time and developed skills at St Mary MacKillop College in Canberra, and then again after his family moved to the Far South Coast.

“I went back to it the second time and the third, and before I knew it I was completely hooked on it,” he said.

“I love the atmosphere and the camaraderie and how you work as a team to get the job done and even if it’s just something like a simple school assembly, there’s always something a little bit different or something that you’re not quite expecting that just keeps it interesting.”

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It wasn’t long afterwards that Ryan became a member of the Moruya Red Door Theatre Company.

“Anthony Mayne, one of the other members, came to one of the full musical productions that the college put on,” he said.

“I was doing the sound and lighting for it and Red Door didn’t have anyone who did their technical department, so he sought me out and asked if I would be interested in joining that little troupe.

“Well, I’ve been here for seven years and I’ve adored every performance that I’ve been a part of with them.”

Mr Ryan also worked sound and lighting for productions at the Bay Pavilions precinct in Batemans Bay.

“That was my first taste of professional theatre,” he said.

Despite his unexpected start in the world of sound and lighting, he will now head to the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney.

While he was working at Bay Pavilions, he met Alyson Whiteoak, who “got the ball rolling” on his path to Sydney.

“She is a wonderful human being and she has several degrees from NIDA,” he said.

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After heading to Sydney for an interview, Mr Ryan faced a nervous two-day wait before he got the call.

“I went up there trying to put my best foot forward and when I heard back from them two days later, I thought, ‘This probably isn’t good if they get back to me that quickly,'” he said.

“But lo and behold, I must have done something right because they were offering me the place in 2024!”

Mr Ryan will now study a one-year course on sound, lighting and other related skills to make sure productions run smoothly.

Like many young people moving away from home for study, he is facing the task of packing his bags.

“It’s moving into the huge big smoke that is Sydney – I lived in Canberra for 13 years of my life, but it’s just another level up there,” he said.

“It’s going to be a bit of a shock to the system in the early weeks.”

But regardless of the move, he is keen to get started on his studies.

“The beautiful thing about the theatre industry – and especially the sound and lighting side of it – is that it just opens so many doors,” he said.

“There’s so many things that I could go on to do.

“I hope to achieve a much better understanding and appreciation of the industry, but the future is wide open, which is an amazing prospect.”

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