december 06, 2015
The Mal and Mel Show hit Kensington on Sunday afternoon, with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull declaring actor Mel Gibson "fabulous" as they mugged for the cameras on the red carpet.
The occasion was the opening of the new graduate school at the National Institute for Dramatic Art, where Mr Gibson once studied.
Mr Turnbull drew plaudits from a packed auditorium when he declared that "culture is at the very essence of who we are".
"Telling stories, describing ourselves, imagining ourselves, dreaming about the selves we'd like to be … that is as human as eating and drinking," the prime minister observed.
As well received as Mr Turnbull's remarks were, the Hollywood actor brought the true star power and got the laughs with an entertaining, and perhaps apocryphal, reminiscence of his time at NIDA.
He recalled being hit by a car as he rushed to a dance and movement class.
"What happened was kind of miraculous … I went about 40 feet through the air ... then centrifugal force took over and I began to spin," he said.
He landed like a ballet dancer in front of an astonished busload of schoolchildren.
"All the kids wanting blood and guts got a show they wouldn't forget."
His austere Russian dance teacher, he added, was unimpressed when he turned up late.
"I learned my phone manner from her," he joked.
Mr Gibson is in Sydney directing the the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge. It's his first directing job in more than a decade.
He graduated from NIDA in 1977 and began work on his first, seminal film role – as the lead in Mad Max – just three days later.
Other notable NIDA alumni include actors Cate Blanchett and Sam Worthington, double Academy Award winning designer Catherine Martin, film critic Margaret Pomeranz and comedian-turned-sex-therapist, Pamela Stephenson.
A two storey extension to NIDA's Kensington campus will be the home of the graduate school, which will host up to 200 students.
Among the school's offerings will be courses in cultural leadership, directing and writing for performance.