Jackson’s story: Drama graduate

Published on

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Creativity in Drama in 2022, Jackson Burling has been busy making waves in the industry. After being a swing performer in Circa Theatre's annual Pantomime last year, a position which required him to learn multiple roles in case of an absence, Jackson has moved to a full-time role for this year's “Treasure Island –The Pantomime. He also put on his first solo show for Fringe Festival 2023, coming out with a nomination for the award for “Most Promising Emerging Artist”.

We spoke to Jackson about what he’s been up to in his first year after graduating, his study experience, and why drama is the craft for him. 

How was your experience studying the Bachelor of Creativity in Drama? 

My learning experience was everything I’d hoped it would be. Whitireia provided artistic opportunities to learn and grow while surrounding us with experienced industry professionals. I found myself constantly being challenged, and I felt comfortable pushing myself to try new things.   

What drew you to study Drama? 

Realising I could earn credits at college by being a class clown was the beginning of my performing arts journey. Drama wasn’t the only subject I had a passion for, but there was something that drew me to pursue acting as a career - a feeling in my stomach that I don't think I'll ever be able to describe.  

Being able to practice my artistic craft every day, to work on human connection with others, and to get lost in different worlds (for both myself as the performer, as well as the audience) was what drew me to studying drama. 

How has preparation been in the lead up to Treasure Island – The Pantomime? 

The preparation has been intense and technically like nothing I have done before, but after going through several shows during my studies, I felt prepared and confident going into this process.  

With dancing being the weak point of my triple-threat combo, I've really had to work on getting the choreography right. Luckily, movement classes through studying gave me the confidence to not care what I look like while dancingand I think I don't look too bad now as a dancing dog in the show! 

Jackson Burely 2 Web

Moving from a swing performer into a casted role this year, how do you feel you have progressed so far in your career? 

Being the swing performer in last year's Pantomime came with its challenges - the first being that I hadn't seen a Pantomime! But the swing role is there to learn other people’s parts in case they can’t go on. 

The role allowed me to be in the room with some incredible artists I had watched and looked up to. It gave me the chance to observe, learn, and try new things. Due to the nature of Covid-19 and a long theatre season, I got the chance to go on as a performer a few times, as a few different characters! Progressing from the swing role to a casted role has prepared me for the world of The Pantomime very well.  

Going into this year, I had an idea of how the world works, how the room works, and how I want to work. I came into this show more creatively confident in my abilitiesI didn't feel like a recent graduate coming into a room full of professional artists, I felt like an artist walking in to work with other artists. 

Have you been doing any other work since finishing study in 2022? 

After graduating in 2022, I’ve had quite a fulfilling year in theatre and screen. I put on my first solo show, 'CAUTION WET FLOOR', a show I created in my final year of studies, at the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2023, which also got me a nomination for 'Most Promising Emerging Artist'. After that, I took the show to Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North for a few nights to reach new audiences and gain new feedback.  

I was recently in WITCH Music Theatre's season of 'Into The Woods' as Cinderella's Prince/The Wolf, and I've had some appearances on screen as supporting roles on TVNZ's 'Hui Hoppers' and NEON's 'Not Even'.

At the Wellington Theatre Awards I was also nominated for 'Most Promising Newcomer' for my performances in CAUTION WET FLOOR and Into The Woods. So, it's been a great first year out for me with lots of connections with new people and constant learning!  

What are you looking forward to while working in the industry? 

I'm looking forward to meeting new people and artists. Whitireia has help me build a base of connections and skills, and already one year into the industry I feel these have grown. People are what make art the beautiful thing that it is, so I am excited to meet new people and create new conversations! 

What are your plans after performing in Treasure Island – The Pantomime? 

My plans for after The Pantomime at the start of 2024 is to jump straight into a new Fringe show that I have co-written and am also directing. I'm looking forward to taking my learnings from The Pantomime and putting them into this new show to try make something unique and different - that's what Fringe is about! After this, I'll be continuing to push for auditions and workshops to train my craft. I've got a lot of ideas in my brain of new things on the horizon, but we'll wait until the right time to get these underway. 

Study Drama at Whitireia 

Get centre-stage and in front of the camera and get the tools to tell your own stories for stage and screen. Train and perform in professional theatres and see your work on the big screen at our cinema.

Explore our drama programme →

Related pages

Whitireia and WelTec are part of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology Learn more

Learn with purpose

Explore Te Pūkenga

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Copyright © 2024 Te Pūkenga