Australian Theatre History. The Australian Performing Group at the Pram Factory

The Pram Factory, Licence to Create

Joe Bolza

 

I was there at the Pram Factory as an employed mime artist, and along with BobThorneycroft, a dancer, created two major shows.  The Bob and Joe Show, and Bob and Joe's Revenge.  They were exciting to work on, broke new ground, were well received by audiences and even reviewers, played to full houses, and even remembered by a few people I meet today.

 

When I left to study mime in Paris for a couple of years, my parents saw this as a passing phase and predicted I would take up some other profitable career on my return.  Little did I or they know that the Australian Performing Group was busy spawning openings for energetic theatre workers.  All it took was to say we'd do a full length original two man mime and dance show, approval and funding arrived almost immediately, and I found a career in theatre for the next fifteen years.

 

There was a general licence to experiment, and experiment we did.  Between us, Bob and I had gained technical skills in a variety of dance and mime styles.  No one was telling us to stick to traditions, so we didn't.  We just wanted to produce a physical variety show that would at times be funny, aesthetic, absurd, dramatic, moving, or just plain entertaining.  We felt free to borrow from any style or technique, or invent our own.

 

This freedom was the hallmark of the times for the APG and Australian theatre in general. I have never felt that freedom since. I went on to teach drama and direct plays for the next 12 years, but slowly, the mood was more to find safety in tradition, a sort of excellence within conformity.  When finally I realized I was bored and jaded, I lived up to my parents predictions and left.  Now I work quite happily as a psychologist, but rarely go to the theatre.  Those heady days are history.  A history I'm grateful for.

 




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The Myer Foundation

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