If you are looking for a piece of advice to re-ignite your commitment to work or study, you might like this gem from BSSC Year 12 student, Max Harris.
“Natural intelligence is good. But work ethic tops it every time. If you want something, you need to work for it. I learnt this early in high school and I hope it will help me for my whole life.”
In Year 7, Max recalls thinking he would have a go at anything he was drawn to. In hindsight, it’s turned out to be exactly the attitude he needed to propel him to where he is now.
“I have to admit I was pretty cringe-worthy in Year 7,” Max confesses. “I talked way too much. I’ve learnt to be a little more reserved… I probably had to go through that awkward stage to reach where I am now. I think I’ve learnt to channel that energy in really positive ways.”
These days Max is passionate about all things related to Musical Theatre—and especially its capacity to tell stories.
Max relishes his good fortune to be living in a region where there is so much opportunity to engage with the arts. However, this year his involvement in community productions has been curtailed so he can concentrate on his studies. Luckily for him, his subjects continue to fire his passion.
Max came to BSSC a little daunted by the change to a whole new campus and yet incredibly excited about the prospect of studying exactly what he wanted.
“Some of the students I met in my classes are now part of my ‘tribe’,” he says, “and my Advisor, Kirsten Thomas, helped me settle in really quickly. All my teachers have been super lovely, but I think the most important thing for me is that I have always felt supported and treated with respect.
“I also really like how supportive of LGBTI+ students the college is.”
Max’s study program this year includes Theatre Studies, Drama, Media, Literature and Psychology—and his passion for storytelling is finding a home across all his subjects. Media has shown him a love of filmmaking he didn’t even realise he had.
So where is all this leading?
“My long-term dream is to perform in Musical Theatre and my pathway at present looks like being via a Bachelor of Music Theatre at VCA (Victorian College of the Arts).
“I will give it 110 per cent, but if it doesn’t work, I know there are other options,” he says. “I think I would also really enjoy teaching drama at a secondary level.”
Max will take at least one gap year and is presently exploring the prospect of working at a summer camp, with a focus on the performing arts, in the US next year. He will also look at performing more widely in productions outside of Bendigo as well as locally.
Some might argue the seeds that have led Max to performance were sown during his kinder concert where he had the important role of Santa. But it was in Year 9, when he played Lafou in BSE’s production of Beauty and the Beast that the die was cast.
“When we came out for the applause at the end of the show, it hit me with incredibly clarity that this was what I wanted.”
In fact, Max had already been on track towards his dreams. He began learning violin in Year 7 and had small parts in the school productions from his first year at BSE onwards.
“No matter how small the part was, I just loved the feeling of being involved in a community of young people who were all working so hard towards their performances,” he remembers. “And, because I could play violin, in Year 10 I landed the part of the Fiddler on the Roof in the musical of the same name.”
Meanwhile, away from school, Max had joined Bendigo Theatre Company and TRIBE Youth Theatre, began drama and singing lessons, and even studied dance.
“I was fourteen and dancers need to start at about three—so I was about eleven years too late!” Max jokes.
“I entered a competition to perform tap and when I got onto the stage, I completely forgot my routine. Luckily I nailed the song and dance routine I did later—although the dance bit was definitely the weakest aspect!”
So what does ‘down time’ look like for Max as he works his way through Year 12?
“I’m untrained, but I love playing piano to relax,” he says. “I escape into computer games too. There is such a thing as too much gaming, but I love the creativity and stories that are part of a good game.”
It’s no surprise that Max is inspired by others whose love of story and creativity have taken them to the top of their game. Actor and composer Adam Lyon—of NED fame—has been one of Max’s drama teachers, and a great role model.
“Adam has such a strong focus on musical theatre and achieving a great audience connection,” Max says. “He went away and studied and performed, but has chosen to return to his old home town and now teaches here, giving young people from Bendigo the opportunity to develop their talent locally.”