When Rowan Freeman was in Year 11 in a regional Victorian school a car accident caused him to think carefully about his future. ‘I was not sure what I was destined to do’, he says. His mentor, the school chaplain, gave him some important advice – to follow his dreams. And Rowan’s dream was to act.
In the years since then he has made the performing arts his cornerstone while complementing this career with successful creative writing and now, teaching. Rowan’s pathway so far includes acting on TV, on stage and on radio and helping to build the confidence of young people through drama education.
Initially heading to London to work in radio, Rowan also studied acting at the renowned Western Australian Academy of Perming Arts (WAAPA) and later creative writing at Macquarie University. He has acted in numerous television shows including the hugely successful Home and Away while a radio play he wrote, Safety Switch, was performed and recorded on ABC Radio National. He has taught in drama educational programs run by the National Institute of Performing Arts (NIDA), Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) and Sydney Theatre Company (STC). In the STC educational program he taught drama skills to the full range of young people – from those in the ‘sad place’ of the juvenile justice system to others attending North Shore independent schools. And it was while working at STC that Rowan realised a new dream – to teach.
‘While I was working for the STC in the education program which goes out to schools I developed a real love for teaching’, Rowan says.
‘But the one challenge with that program was that it was seven weeks long. We’d go to a school for seven weeks and would see this program starting to work – inspiring young kids or changing the way that teachers would apply drama to the teaching in their classroom – and then you’d have to move on.’
Rowan wanted to build on that work, staying in a school to really make a difference.
Now at Santa Sabina (since the start of 2023), Rowan is our Drama and English Teacher and Acting Coach for our forthcoming joyful production of Peter Pan. The first thing he has noticed about the College is the delightful nature of our students and their strong engagement in learning.
‘It’s lovely to walk into a school where people smile and have a conversation. A place where getting an education is cherished. The kids have made me feel so welcome’, he says.
Rowan teaches Drama fundamentally to help build self-confidence. ‘I think this is one of the most important things that we need students to have, especially now they are in a space consumed by the small device in front of them. Presenting skills are really key in every class and then once you step outside of the education environment into work, being able to present yourself in an eloquent manner is incredibly important.’
Outside of the classroom, Rowan is writing children’s fiction and going for long runs – ‘to get away and get out’. He is renovating the home he shares with his wife and going to the theatre as often as possible.