They came from opposite sides of the theatrical curtain and had never met before. But Ben Kindon, 18, and Ryan Drum, 21, had something in common: each had been accepted into a course in a major Australian drama institute next year.
Kindon has been performing in school and local theatre productions since high school, with credits including The Crucible and Blood Brothers, both of which won him Canberra Area Theatre Awards. He auditioned for both the National Institute of Dramatic Art and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and was accepted into the latter's acting course before he had even graduated from Narrabundah College.
''It's a bit surreal,'' he said.
For him, a major appeal of acting is character.
''I don't think there's anything better than being able to sink your teeth into a character that's really screwed up,'' he said. The ''tragic hero'' John Proctor of The Crucible was one such figure.
''It's a confronting thing but an amazing thing. I just think there's so much to discover … Most people, I think, get to experience just their lives; actors get experience of other people's lives.''
And now the professional journey he had long hoped for is beginning.
He might find himself working one day with Drum, who is undertaking a new course in stage at NIDA as one of the first students (there will be three to five of them).
The degree covers such areas as set building, rigging, lights and audio and production management. He said he hoped it would help him to work as a tour manager on travelling shows.
Drum also began taking part in theatre in his school days but said, ''I've long come to realise I won't ever be one of the people who get to stand under the lights and be glamorous. I'm OK with that to tell you the truth … I had my time at acting and thought I'd bow out before everyone got sick of me.''
Both his parents were involved with Canberra Repertory Society - his mother Helen is manager - and he began helping out there as a teenager, before getting a part-time job at the Canberra Theatre Centre in his final year of school, working on the production of My Fair Lady.
He worked there during two years of a teaching degree that he deferred after realising he wasn't cut out for the ''politics'' of the work. While working at the Canberra Theatre this year he heard about the NIDA course, went to Sydney to check it out, and by the end of the week was offered a place.
He said he found a lot of satisfaction in being able to come in at the start of a day, work all day - building sets, putting things together - ''then look at the object or completed project and it's done''.