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

The collective processes fascinated me far more than the product... So much of about it was about partying, wasn't it.

Jon Hawkes

 

For me La Mama was a much more creative period that the Pram Factory ever was because we didn't know what we were doing.  That was the fantastic thing, that and because we were amateurs, everyone there was doing it out of expressiveness not out of ‘I want to make a career of this’, not out of ‘I want to work’.

 

My memories of those workshops are that though they weren't text driven they were arrogantly text knowledgeable.  I remember doing group workshops with Bill Garner, Graeme Blundell, Kerry Dwyer and Lindzee Smith. That group work was probably the most creative of my life. I didn't work with Brian Davies.  He was into Brecht at that time and I guess while I had a huge theatrical interest in Brecht I didn't want to do a Brecht play.

 

Lindzee Smith’s memory is extraordinary- it’s also extraordinarily inaccurate- he has the most detailed memories of things that did not happen in the way that he remembers them happening. I first met him at Monash University. He was older than me but we weren't friends. Lindzee was in one of my father's tutorials- he taught Renaissance and Reformation. Although I was at Monash I wasn't studying really, I was working full time in the bookshop doing one subject a year. It great in the bookshop because knowledge is in books and if you want to manipulate what words mean then you have to write the right propaganda to the right people.

 

Lindzee was always trying to go over the edge of whatever was there. And it was alcohol at that time.  Later it was acid. I was living in Clayton, right next to Monash and he was in Eltham where at that time there existed a huge artistic enclave which included Asher Bilu, Matcham Skipper, Siggy Jorgensen et al. We used to drive to Geelong in his green panel van for football games and drive home drunk on the wrong side of the road, all the way on the wrong side of the road because there were traffic jams. He controlled things in the relationship and he pushed you to the edge all the time and I went along with it with great pleasure and that characterises a significant portion of my life with him. Margot Lindsay, his wife, was dominated by him, his force of personality.

 

The biggest thing for me at Monash was when I ran the 1968 National University Drama Festival with Richard Murphet and a whole lot of weird things came out of that. Richard actually directed me in the first show I ever did, ‘Salad Days’ with Evelyn Krape as the ingenue and myself as the policeman! 

For the Festival we brought ‘Tribe’ to Melbourne from Queensland, they came and then they never left.  There were all these odd groups like Contact Theatre which was the group Lindzee and Margot worked in.  They were a semi-professional company, they’d done ‘Malcolm and his Struggle against the Eunuchs’ with Romeril playing Malcolm. Margot was also in an Arrabal play and Aarne Neeme did a production of ‘Saved’ and Steve Speares and Tonto were in an Aristophenes play - all sorts of strange stuff, but it was the first university festival that invited non-university companies to perform and probably that was because it was the first time there were non-university companies doing anything interesting.

We put all delegates in caravans in the car parks so when I did Circus Oz it was like I had a sense of deja vu- I’ve done this before! I had this office in a caravan in the car park amongst forty or fifty caravans.

Romeril, who was at Monash too, was the first to find out what was happening at La Mama, but it wasn't just La Mama happening in 1968, it was happening all over.  Doug Anders had done ‘America Hurrah’ in Sydney and the cops had closed it down but even in Melbourne, Emerald Hill prefaced so much of what happened at the Pram and I remember the ‘Legend of King O'Malley’ came to Melbourne while we were doing La Mama and really, that was the first finished piece of rough Australian theatre !- it wasn't anything that the Pram Factory did, it was bloody Michael Boddy with whom I had worked  in Tasmania.

 

The Perth Festival was the watershed for me both personal and theatrical. Couples were breaking up and reforming and the de facto relationship of the structure of the company was in complete flux. Lindzee and I took a stand after Perth. Our perception was that the APG was becoming nationalist at the expense of everything else. Blundell’s desire was that the APG become the crucible for the development of Australian plays and he was prepared to support the presentation of any play simply because it was new and Australian and we really objected to that and so we left.

 

Lindzee and Margot went to the US and later Ponch (Hawkes) took off to stay with them in California. I was left alone. My best friend and my wife have both gone to the United States and I’m editing full time on ‘Go Set’, making a lot of money, desperately lonely, riding my motorbike singing ‘Fire and Rain’ at the top of my voice down the Thirteenth Beach which was a beautiful beach that Lindzee and I used to go to. Come Christmas and I can’t stand it any more. I give it all up and throw in the job, cash in my life insurance and buy a ticket to LA. I was not utterly welcome.

 

Lindzee had made a complete break with Australia and reinforced this within himself by loudly opposing anything Australian. If you tip America on its side all the really weird shit rolls into California. Santa Barbara. Richard Murphet had gone to Canada and done acid alone in a tower being a forest warden, seriously seeking insight. He came back from Canada with a blotter full of acid, vast amounts and very, very good. On the way over it got slightly damp and what he arrived with was sheets of paper with weird brown stains all over it. He knew he hadn’t lost the acid but it was uneven and we didn’t know how much we were taking and for some months he and his wife, Mary and I took a great deal of acid, seriously, reading the Tibetan Book of Great Liberation to guide us through. Dying and being reborn!  After we’d come out of the trip we’d go through long days of self-analysis.

 

In ‘73 I came back to Sydney to work on ‘Digger’ as its editor. I deliberately didn’t go to Melbourne. Phillip Fraser had owned ‘Go Set’ and went on to start ‘Digger’. It was Lindzee that kept me at La Mama and it was Lindzee that brought me back to the APG.  I would never have come back to APG if Lindzee hadn’t forced me to. He asked me to come down to do a show -it was some sort of an event, The Great Stumble Forward, for Community Aid Abroad. John Pinder was producing it, there were no APG people in it, it was all Tribe people and junkies. The Great Stumble Forward never became a formal part of the Pram Factory in any way even though it had a minority of APG people like Shuv’us, Robin Laurie and Phil Motherwell.

Ponch and I were in the process of separating then and that was also when Robin and I started our relationship.  Robin was a member of Tribe but she was also a member of the APG and she had also left and gone overseas for a while.  I moved straight into the Tower from Sydney, I lived there off and on, even though we were away touring a lot. 

 

In the beginning there was a wall between the Tower and the Pram Factory but the Pram had got the lease on the Tower and in ’76 the wall came down. We eventually came to this arrangement with the Collective that we would exchange care-taking responsibilities for rent!  (I think it had become very hard to collect the rent). Doing Chairman Mao’s exercises every morning was a myth, there was not a disciplined crew jumping up and down, this wasn’t a commune. There ended up being virtually no communal space in the Tower, it was the most un-collective household. Every room went to somebody and we never congregated in the tower itself, only small numbers around the kitchen table and that would only fit like four, so life took place either in Stewarts Hotel or Tamani’s (now Tiamo) in Lygon Street.

 

Hardly anybody ever ate at the Tower. Most of time I ate at Tamani’s, late breakfasts particularly whilst we were performing at the Last Laugh restaurant and we’d get Piero and Angelo to make toast and eggs and to stock marmalade and vegemite- really un-Italian breakfast. Breakfast could take all day and it got to be like that was the place where deals were struck, advice given, fantasies expanded upon and I had a credit account there and sometimes three or four months would go by before I paid it. I’d be eating three or four meals a day there. The tower is nothing without Tamani’s. Tamani’s was a much more congenial atmosphere to do deals in than the pub. At the back table you could seat fifteen people, whereas in the pub you’d spend most of your time looking over other people’s shoulders and getting drunk. I’m not functional with alcohol. Couldn’t handle it.

Out of necessity though I was at times both a Stewarts and Tamani’s person. There were some perceptions about the APG being about different drug-based cultures which was true; there was a coffee and dope culture, there was drug culture, there was an alcohol culture and there were people who crossed those barriers like Tim Robertson and Lindzee. In the ‘70s Lindzee and I called ourselves psychedelic Bolsheviks. Taking risks, taking spiritual and psychological risks.

 

The cops from across the road used to come into the Pram and never notice the dope smoking. I remember when someone escaped from custody in the lock up over at the cop shop and they ran in the front door of the Tower, which was always open- I don't know if anyone even had a key for it, it had a tin panel which you could push aside and open the door anyway.  Anyway this guy had escaped and came in through the front door and ran up the stairs. I think we were all in the communal lounge room. I guess this person went past and we didn't care and the next minute there were half a dozen police chasing him and they apprehended him out on the back patio.  We were all stoned off our faces.  At one point a uniform looked in the door and said ‘did you see anyone go past.?’ We said ‘yeah, yeah, he went that way!’

 

So we began to live in the Tower and next door in the Pram were all the straights: Max Gillies, Claire Dobbin, the Hannans, Tony Taylor - the teachers. What happened here? What the fuck happened here? There was no edge left at all- doing Barry Oakley plays! It’s not as tho we were against it but we did something else.

 

Robin and I used the excuse of wanting to travel, we weren't leaving the collective but we didn’t want to have to be around whilst they were doing this piece of shit theatre, another Barry Oakley play  ‘Bedfellows’; it was ideologically/ politically/ incorrect theatre and we didn’t want a bar of it so rather than boycott cleaning the toilets or picketing the ticket box, we went! Lindzee came too and Carol followed later on.

 

There wasn't too much of the Barry Oakley Inc., when we came back, there may have been, but I tended not to go to shows that were on in the Front Theatre, it could have been years before I actually saw a Front Theatre show, partly because text theatre didn't interest me. There were things that did interest me when people were using text the way the stasis was, there were a lot of productions in the Back Theatre that were interesting in the way that they confronted text and turned it upside down.   It is not text that worries me, it’s where there is a director saying, ‘I am going to discover the real motive of the author in producing this’ or ‘oh, this was a big play in London, then we will do it.’ whereas these other people were going ‘here is a bunch of words, what do we think about them, where are we going to take them?’ then I would be excited about what the result might be.

 

Despite learning about the reality of Chairman Mao, I still think the cultural revolution was a good idea. The reason being that it had a good effect on me. I was in it, which means that the only experience I have of the cultural revolution was my experience and it was entirely positive, why should I reject that. My mother was a hippy and my father was an Anglican minister and totally unreligious. In his vision of the job he was a social worker.  God was never talked about in our house, the Job was talked about all the time, networking small communities. The church paid our rent and there was an expectation that the institution would provide one with one’s needs. I got free education because of my father’s job. Free board at university. There’s always some building you can say you’re going to look after and sleep in the bottom of it- or the top! So theatre, in the context of a democratically controlled institution in the service of its members is an ancient idea.

 

I think we were influenced all that time by living with Eddy van Roosendale. He was a communist who despised every form of existing communism that there was, right across the spectrum.  Russia was State capitalism, China was perverse communism. The ideal didn't exist anywhere and that is the nature of Trotskyism, it doesn't exist.  But the argument constantly there was that because the practice does not fulfil the theory that's no reason to discard the theory. Far better that an ideologue like me be active, but at least I had a confidence that my ideology was basically nice.  My blind acceptance of the ideal was that, given a chance, most people will do the right thing and that's something I have never questioned. I can't allow myself to question it and that stems from my parental influence. I see my ideological development as somewhat seamless, there are no great cracks in my life. 

 

There were crises for me at the Pram. Robin and I had a crisis, a personal relationship crisis. I go out of my way not to remember the bad things.  I never got into sexual politics, I never auditioned for a part. I wasn't a very good actor. All I can say is I do it for me.  I do it because I have had more fun at making theatre than I have had at doing anything else and painful fun, if fun means feeling full and feeling engaged. As to what effect the result of that might have on other people I couldn't care less.  Which is why La mama workshops were as important as Circus Oz performances.

 

I don't recognise a need to express myself.  It doesn't have any resonance.  I remember Max telling me once that he didn't think he had a subconscious.  I bet he doesn't think that now.  What made me think of that is when I ask the question - what is inside me?  It’s the battles with other minds and bodies to make something that we all agree is good.

 

 

‘The Architect and the Emperor’ was pretty much a watershed in that direction. Lindzee and I had seen two or three different productions of it and we found Arrabal a fascinating playwright.  Because 'nobody knows how deep is my agony' that phrase was one of the Architect's lines (played by Max) and it’s about why I, as the Emperor, am in such pain- no one can even begin to imagine how much pain I am in.  My pain is beyond - it is just that extraordinary self-obsession that epitomized everything about the philosophy of individualism - it is just about the most profound summation of Western ideology I’ve read and it was fantastic to have a play that said it so clearly and that was open to such levels of mind-fuckery.

At one point the stage direction says  'the Architect becomes the Emperor' - how the fuck ?- is that a challenge or what?  That was what attracted me and also, what attracted me was the team.  Working with Max, I had never worked with Max before and I find him fascinating, because he works in a way I can't even comprehend. Max did great tricks. Max’s acting is trick based, not psychologically based. It’s like he’s all technique, everything is technique and I have, and had, no desire to have any technique at all. So the thought of trying to make theatre with someone whose whole vision was almost the exact opposite of mine in a piece where, in reality, the characters were exactly the same- the characters that we were playing were as different as we were ourselves plus the fact that Lindzee argued us into pursuing those directions obsessively.  Max is so cold- the Antarctic is such an attractive place but you don't want to live there, it’s great to go look.

 

After the Architect and the Emperor, there was The Hills Family Show and then Soapbox Circus. There was The Mother and then I made a movie with Robin and Rod Bishop called ‘Rainbow Farm’. I did lighting in the ’Golden Holden’- it was my job to get drunk every night and throw cans.  Soapbox started after ‘The Hills Family Show’.  We were doing Circus Oz before we did ‘Dreamers of the Absolute’. I liked Dreamers because we worked against character - I’d lost interest in playing characters partly because I couldn't do it and also partly because I found it distasteful, the training and the thought processes that were asked of you and the ideology of the teachers -all of it I found profoundly distasteful.  I remember we were rehearsing the Circus Oz National Gallery Show while we were performing Dreamers at night- that was a high point.  It was the only time I was doing two things at once, being actually out there in two completely different directions, being part of developing ‘Dreamers’ and part of developing Circus Oz.  I think I was also the Chair of the collective, I was the longest serving Chair of the APG, which meant I had all those executive meetings to go to at the same time but I didn't have any other life. 

 

One of my most vivid memories of administration was the safe full of dope There was never any money and we had this safe, a square regular safe under the desk on the floor but we didn't ever have anything to keep in it.  The only thing that was ever in it with any regularity was a big bag of dope.  In a way that was, for me, one of the most tangible forms of collectivism. I don't know whether this was approved or not, but because I had access to the money all the dope was brought with Pram Factory funds. The money always came back! I would always buy the dope to sell to the collective.  Bob Daly screen-printed a label called ‘Bonza Dope 30 dollars an ounce’. It was beautiful- I have still got one. I used buy a pound quite regularly, once a month. I would buy a pound with Pram Factory money. I put it in the safe and when people came to get their wages they would tell me how much of their wages they wanted in dope and how much they wanted in money.  Perhaps it wasn’t offered to everyone- perhaps it was just for the boys.  We even carried that tradition on in Circus Oz when we were in Europe. There was a collective agreement that all the dope would be brought by the company and people would buy it from the company -it was hugely cheaper. I mean it kept people's cost of living way down.

 

Lindzee and I were both well versed in the history of Western theatre, we had read all the plays, we’d argue about them and I see profound similarities in the directions we have taken in Circus Oz and the directions taken in Nightshift.  Particularly in issues like playing character and in issues like the recognition of a shared reality between performers and audience; particularly in the way the Circus is lit, thousand of things similar in the way Nightshift went and the way Circus Oz went. We also have a profound interest in contemporary theory and we had that right from La mama days. TDR(Tulaine Drama Review) was such an important thing. I went into Shelton Lee's bookshop down in Clifton Hill three months ago- I didn't realise it was his. Shelton Lee is an ex-junky poet. I was looking through the books and I see a TDR. I recognise it! It is from 1968 and it’s got this APG stamp in it and I said this is mine!  Shelton Lee said  'Yeah, it is, isn't it.' and I don't know him from Adam.  He gave it to me.

 

The Junkie connection -Spodey Odey, Karl Gallagher and full on Nightshift stuff in the Back Theatre and Hollywood Dave straddles it all. Hippy shit through the tower, acid casualties, Hollywood Dave’s smell is the thing I remember the most. It was just dreadful.  Hollywood Dave remembered so much, so obsessed by the history of things. As the Chairperson, given that I didn’t have an axe to grind compared to anyone else, my support for Nightshift was clear and my support for John Timlin as administrator was clear.

 

I’d had a dream that I wanted to be part of a circus that was world famous and was fantastic and was Australian and it might take me twenty years to achieve but the reality was that it happened in four, five, what do you do then? Stay on the road, tour after tour. Time to do something else. You’ve created something that’s ongoing and secure.

 

 

The Hannans put forward the mobile theatre troupe project, Alan Robertson, Laurel, Michael Price, Robin, me, Greig, Richard  all sorts of crossovers in that group and that developed the multi culturalism from the Hannan input. This troupe almost immediately became Soapbox. It started off as a Canto Storise. An Italian folk style. FILEF picnic was our first performance. Bill Hannan wrote it. Singing, moving statues. then there was the Timor Show. Then there were pub tours, just another rock n roll band. Sometimes we’d do the Timor Show. It went well. People aren’t going to argue with you when you’ve got three people on your shoulders. At one gig two blokes did brown noses at the audiences and then did them to us and I was being Alphonso and I drop kicked one of them, lifted him four feet off the ground and they were outraged and they busted into the dressing room and everyone came off to help until there was only the drummer left on the stage. Anyway we won that fight and threw them out, there were a lot more of us. I was the chair of the APG at this point

 

’78 New Circus and Soapbox do an in house show and in the Tower there’s a discussion about what to do next. Practicalities, New Circus has got the tricks and aerial tricks and Soapbox had the band and the ground tricks and the potential to get funds so they come together as an APG project. We were doing Smack’n the Dax. I thought Smackinthedax was fabulous! I love moving statues. ‘The Mother’ was moving statues, Soapbox was moving statues and even Dreamers of the Absolute was moving statues. Greig Pickhaver invented Alphonso Spagoni. Max gave Soapbox the psychic rope trick from the Hills Family Show.

Pinder is the third part of Circus Oz. We set up a separate company called Circus Australia Ltd that is a hiring company and Circus Australia offers to hire the APG a circus tent for the production of the show by the combined group. APG agrees. We then put together this group (plus Pinder) with a proposal to Moomba and the Adelaide Festival ‘78 to fund the show called Circus Oz in which we described a non-existent show, a non-existent company and they agreed to it. They put up the money to the APG and the APG used the money to pay the rehearsal for the individuals and to hire the tent from Circus Oz and the rental fee up front. You only have to rent a circus tent for so many weeks before you’ve covered the cost. Jim Robertson, Tim Coldwell, Alan Robertson and we all built the tent. It first went up in Princes Hill Carpark. We do Moomba and Adelaide and we have a tent.

 

I look back on it with a nostalgic glow, it was magic. We toured to Sydney and did the Paris Theatre. The Last Laugh season was a really important moment. ‘Waiter, There’s a Circus in my Soup’. We did thirty-six weeks or whatever in the Laugh. That was the first understanding of what real professionalism meant. You just had to turn up day after day after day the same place, the same show. This was the group that went on to New Guinea and England in 1980. That was still Alan, Robin and me, and Tim, Jack Daniel and Hellen Sky. All that touring.

 

By virtue of describing what Community arts was and what CO wasn’t I established some sort of credentials in what they were looking for. That job was a total shock. At the time I’d walked out at the end of the Adelaide Festival ’82- there was an argument which resulted in me saying I was leaving the company after the last night and we were going on tour the next month and I realised it was really unfair and I went back but on the basis that I’d leave at end of the season. So for the Circus Oz national tour (before Daylesford) I had left and stayed in Sydney.  The tour finished in Sydney and the circus went to Daylesford after that.  They did a show for the locals in the Town Hall and I went to see it, that was '82.

The Australia Council offered me a job, Director of the Community Arts Board.  I was on the committee to get the APG Ensemble together, me and Bill Garner, Carol Porter and Robin; we designed the audition procedure and conducted the auditions.  I believed there was a chance that a second generation would take it over and I think it may well might have, if it hadn't been for the fact that what we auditioned them for what was to be a performing ensemble and what they ended up with was they were a landlord ensemble of a building that was inoperable because at that point in time they said that we couldn't continue unless we got the fire regulations shit.  In a weird way for me I think the death of the Pram Factory was the withdrawal of Circus Oz because Circus Oz were the workers.  All the people in Circus Oz were the people who were prepared to clean the dunnies and who were prepared to do the box office once a week and by that stage people like Bill, Max, Tony Taylor -they didn't want to do that stuff anymore, understandably. 

Ensemble - I don't think it was the shit work that freaked them out it was the responsibility that they had, apart from the responsibility for the legacy of the Pram. The fact that they had to involve themselves in the decision-making processes about programming, and that they had to deal with this building.  I was at the Australia Council when the auction happened it was at the end of '82 and that was probably why Circus Oz went to Daylesford. 

 

The Panel Beaters ‘79- That was the final death blow to the Pram, Corrigan’s plans, venue fever, that’s what destroyed the Ensemble. They were employed on their ability to make theatre together not on their ability to manage a venue and in the end issues about the venue became the dominant factor in all discussions. Where would they get the funding to put in a fire alarm, matters of management, boring shit, not what those people wanted to do and yet they had to. Because…

 

 

The process of auditioning for the Ensemble itself was fantastic! It was not unlike the stuff that we put each other through at La Mama ‘if you can't cut the mustard powder’ you are out.  I guess macho is one way of saying it, it was very tough, we just made those people improvise their arses off.  So we put five people together and the rules would be explore the building come back to us in two hours with a show.  We would make those sort of bald statements and people would have to do it and they did fantastic things. What a group they were, Peter King. Denis Moore.  You could say that that was the last thing that I did there, but this is something that the Pram Factory people tend to forget, that is for me the APG is still alive with Circus Oz and it is seamless.

 

The most important work practices and performance traditions of the APG were the flame that inspired and formed Circus Oz and as far as I am concerned Circus Oz is still an APG project and always was right from the beginning.  I do the documentation. I write its history so I make sure that that point is clear.  It just makes me sick that people think that Australian theatre died when the Pram Factory died.  With Circus Oz, unknowingly in our heads, we defined where theatre was going to go, as far as I am concerned Australian theatre died 20 years ago and continues to be dead and that where we took performance is where performance has gone. 

 

Doing the Community Arts Board stuff was fantastic, my major contribution to that was writing the language of movement, there were a whole lot of weird changes that would be horrifying now particularly the concrete-car park syndrome where the community arts based profession becomes a largely government based profession with bureaucrats. What I had to do was develop a manifesto for community arts that attempted to maintain its politics in face of becoming sensible - basically, for government.  I had to invent the rationale by which it could stand up.

 

With John Timlin I ended up working for him on History of Australia, he was the producer and I was -  actually I don't know what I was.  Timlin and I were both pragmatists in a sense that when my partner, Susie Beale and I went to Cuba we were treated like royalty, and at one point, I can't remember what the conversation was about, but they kept using this word 'compromiso' and I was getting really upset, what are you talking about, compromiso, compromiso? and then the interpreter said it doesn't mean compromise it means negotiation, that's what I mean by pragmatists, Timlin and I were able to recognise in each other the ability to cooperate and work out deals that would be acceptable to both of us and there is  a great pleasure in that.  The best living example of that was the first Performing Arts Enquiry, for which we had done a big submission. Then Timlin, Romeril and I went to Canberra to deliver live evidence in the equivalent of a courtroom, this was 1974.  So we front up and we dressed for it -Timlin wore a suit, Romeril wore a paint splattered polo necked navy blue jumper and I wore hippy gear, an Indian shirt and floral pants.  We refused to appear separately, so as a special dispensation the three of us were allowed in the witness box together and we read our report sentence by sentence one after the other

 

The lawyer on the panel was the son of Charles Boyer whom the Boyer lectures were named after and the other guy was a fabulous bloke, a journalist who wrote for the Financial Times I think, he was a highly respected serious commentator. Their end recommendation was that mainstream theatre ought not to be funded and that all government money for the arts should go into education and experiment.  It said that organizations, such as Sydney Theatre Co. ought not to receive a subsidy, Opera would not need subsidy.  In other words other organisations could scam private corporation sponsorship.

They certainly took us seriously. 

 

 

The thing that stands out for me as being unique was that the APG never really had a leadership, not one that I could perceive and it was fabulous that it never had it, its collectivism was the thing that was extraordinary about it. I am not aware of any other formation in the world like that and it was fantastic to experience it.  There was a downside thing for me  and that was that, apart from Lindzee, Carol and Robin, in terms of an ongoing and close intellectual erotic intimacy, the relationships which I had with other people were by and large distant ones, not meaning not close, not friends, but meaning not soul-mates. 

 

I remember there were times when the collective process ostracised some people but that seemed to be the nature of the collective.  We did try to do something about it. We did things like ‘The Mother’. We created a show and said we won't hold auditions, anyone who wishes to be in the show can be in it!  It ended up we got people like Rose Costello and Timlin’s secretary, Sigrid von Borke who had never fucking acted in her life and it was fantastic, it was wonderful and it was the same thing happened with Circus Oz. My memory is that I pushed as hard as I would push for anything- stasis had a right to do what they did regardless whether they were complete wankers or not, they were respected members of the collective and if that was what they chose to do then that's what they chose to do.

 

I enjoy using words. I use words all the time, words are my business but I would also say that I have a relatively low opinion of myself and I am quite prepared to acknowledge myself to be wrong.  My vision was not about theatre particularly it was about the challenge of creating a situation in which a large number of vastly different people could do things in such a way that they didn't kill each other and that was about the beginning and end of it.  The collective processes fascinated me far more than the product.  I have worked in other collectives like the ‘Digger’ some sense of political radicalism was necessary, some sense of desire that the world would be different and the means through which that could be achieved could have been anything. I fell into performance by accident not by any huge desire to perform. 

 

A few years back I was running Moomba and it felt like the same thing, Alan Robertson doing the Trams ....  the same deal only bigger.  We had ten times as much money as we ever had and were making stuff that had never been seen before.  I was the Associate Producer and we didn't have an Artistic Director.



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