In the fickle world of the arts, keeping yourself relevant while remaining true to yourself can be tricky to navigate, but Bachelor of Dramatic Art graduate Nicholas O'Regan seems to take it in his stride.  

Since graduating from Excelsia, Nick has experienced almost a meteoric rise to success through hard work and determination. From establishing a small independent theater company, Matriark Theatre and studying Commedia del’ Arte in Reggio Emila Italy, Nick’s star is shining bright. 

We caught up with the effervescent Nick, where he divulged all; from what it was like touring the world doing what he loves, the practice he recommends taking up before studying and what he wishes he had known before pursuing a career in theatre. 

Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Dramatic Art? 

I chose to study a Bachelor of Dramatic Art, because I loved entertaining others and I wanted to learn how to do it better. As a young person, I’d always been interested in creating characters and improvising to make people laugh. I heard about the degree and thought it would be a good opportunity to hopefully make my passion a career.  

What was your experience being a Bachelor of Dramatic Art student at Excelsia? 

It was hard work. I remember being in first year and remarking that I spent more time on site at the College than I did in High School. I soon learnt, (then and now) that time and dedication was necessary if you wanted to make performing your craft and career. It was exciting, working alongside new peers who shared my ambitions, our common drive also providing for some healthy competition. I liked how the unit’s broke down the elements of performance into particular streams. It helped me identify, during and post studies, the areas of performance I was attracted to. I deeply valued the opportunity to learn from working industry professionals as our unit tutors.   

After graduating, how did your career path evolve? 

I was fortunate to have some close peers in my year group who were driven to continue creating work together after graduation. So we did, establishing a small independent theater company, Matriark Theatre, which kept us constantly engaging in making new works and building on our craft.  

You have had such an incredible career already, working across a range of independent theatre projects. Can you talk us through some of your key defining moments? 

The right place, at the right time, with the right preparation – and the courage to raise my hand. This is the formula that I’ve followed (instinctively and subconsciously), throughout my artistic career.  

Choosing to study Commedia del’ Arte in Reggio Emila Italy has been a career highlight. After the three-month course, I had the opportunity to start a European theatre company I Naufraghi, and create a new work directed by Antonio Fava. We then toured it around Northern Italy, Holland and the next year, three months in Finland.  

Last year you toured Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo to Abu Dhabi, Japan and the Sydney Opera House. You have also written some episodes for a Children’s animation called The Tui’s. How does it feel to have had these successes? 

Working with Erth is a dream come true. In first year at Excelsia, myself and some peers were sent on an errand to collect a Leviathan puppet from Erth’s HQ for the Second-year production, Job. The puppets and people I saw at the studio were so exciting – I told myself, “one day I’ll work with them” – and it happened. Cliqued, but it was unbelievably satisfying having a 9-year long ambition come to fruition. It feels wonderful to have my practice and my person validated by a creative company I so greatly admire. I’ve always liked writing, choosing to write my IP in third year, so to be paid to write animated episodes, alongside another writer and peer I greatly respect (Another Excelsia alumni Murray Lambert), has been another deeply satisfying moment in my career.  

The theatre and creative industry can be challenging. What do you wish you had known before learning it the hard way? 

I wish I had known that I needed to be more proactive than I felt was comfortable, that I would need the ability to see myself as a product and learn how to market myself. I wish I had known that I would need to get used to putting my hand up for opportunities. I wish I had known to take all advice with a grain of salt. I wish I had a strong practice in yoga and meditation before the degree.  

If you could give other artists advice about getting started in a career in theatre practice, what would you say? 

Practice appreciation. This requires a conscious effort and enhances your mental health. It’s important to eat and sleep well, exercise, and water your garden (give yourself ‘me time’) if you want to sustain a creative career. Otherwise you will inevitably burn out. Trust your gut. Have something else you do, a hobby or other passion, wood carving, bush walking, play an instrument – anything that brings you joy and is a release from your intensive creative work. Turn up on time to rehearsals. Always. 

Excelsia College will be running their very first Creative and Performing Arts Virtual Open Day on Saturday 29 August. If Nick’s story has sparked your interest and you would like to discover more about where a Bachelor of Dramatic Art degree specialising in Theatre Practice at Excelsia can take you, register your interest below.