It’s time to finish the conference as we’re running out of time, and I want to thank a number of people who have been involved, but before I do, I would like to make one comment. What this conference has been about is really celebrating a history – an Australian history that has been, politically and culturally, revolutionary, and that has been particularly important for us in Melbourne, Carlton and at the University of Melbourne. We’ve had the most extraordinary two and a half days. I think of our starting point as Wednesday night and what we have heard and see since then. But there’s always been another political intent behind this event for those of us who were involved in developing it. That intent has been to recognise that you can have a marvellous revolutionary period, but that must be part of a bigger evolution. Later revolutionary periods need to be nurtured and developed. We’ve always believed that our future course lies with our next generation of students and theatre makers and the generation after. At present, it’s very difficult for those of us who work within the tertiary sector and in our theatre training institutions. In the 70s, our universities were clearly important places for the development of theatre. That’s not just in Melbourne of course, but at the Universities in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide. Our concern is that student theatre is under threat at the moment. At the University of Melbourne funds are tight, and with the changes to unionism and voluntary student unionism, money for the Theatre Board may be reduced. It’s also a big journey for the VCA to move into the university because costs may be cut there as well.
We believe very strongly that we want this to be a call to arms for all of us here to ensure that we protect the opportunities for new generations of performers, writers, directors, and that if you want to take some political action, well, you can write to people working in the industry and you can write to the Vice-Chancellor of the various universities and say that this has been an extraordinary event, and that this has been a part of our cultural future that we really must not lose. We need to continue to argue that universities have a very important part to play in the growth of our culture whether in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth. And I really encourage you to be part of that political movement to protect the next future, so that we have a new New Wave and a new new New Wave, whatever we want to call them.
It’s been so wonderful to have the young actors from the VCA here tonight with their fantastic reading of Chicago and the university alumni who performed White With Wire Wheels so magnificently over the past few nights, and to have not only people who are training to be theatre professionals but to have had a student last night who is studying dentistry, who also performed very beautifully in the Alex Buzo play, Norm and Ahmed. So that’s been part of the message of this Symposium to just take an exciting Australian theatre culture forward into the future. The other part of our message to students is that these writers and directors and actors created their revolution as young people, and they’re here to help you and support you in your future. And I think I can speak for every one of the writers and importantly, the directors; I’m sure that they’re happy to help you in every way to support your careers.
This symposium has emerged out of the Theatre Board at the University of Melbourne, which, as I’ve said, exists to support student theatre. And it’s been members of the Theatre Board who have worked on the committee. So I’ll just go through them: Paul Monaghan, who’s over here [applause]. Paul’s been our stage manager for the theatre conference and managed the actors you saw and he does all sorts of wonderful things, and we couldn’t have possibly managed without him; Kate Donelan, from the Education Faculty, who is on the Theatre Board as well [applause]. We need not just performers but teachers who ensure that we begin educating people about the theatre and that’s really important as well. Max Gillies, the Vice-Chancellor’s fellow, who has been on the Theatre Board with us this year, has been an invaluable part of our steering committee, and has worked his butt off because as you know, he has been here every minute of this symposium. So thanks Max [applause]. And the wonderful Susie Dee who had to sneak out the back because she’s got another production night coming up tonight, and she needed to go back there. I want to thank Union House Theatre; this is a joint event between UHT and Theatre Board. We received money from the Vice-Chancellor and I would like to reiterate my thanks to him as well. Thanks to Creative Arts and the use of this space, and Denise Varney who is chair of Theatre Studies at the moment who is always very supportive of these events. I want to thank the marvellous administrators, Melinda Hetzel and Tim Stitz, who do everything and have been fantastic people to work with. The wonderful students who have supported us and many of them are here who serve cups of tea and sat at the desk and done all of those other things. Mark Richardson, the manager of The Open Stage who has been here the whole time in the background, doing things so this lovely old theatre could look so wonderful for this event. And I must thank all of you who have given so incredibly generously of your time. I know people have come from all over and you have given us your memories and have made this the most extraordinary and wonderful event. To each and everyone of you, those who have spoken, those who have talked, those who have argued and those who have contributed in so many different ways. We’ve recorded everything as you know. And we will be publishing the proceedings on-line. I hope we can do justice, to somehow bring to life the wonderful experiences that you’ve allowed us to share with you.
If you haven’t had the opportunity, please come to White With Wire Wheels, which is on for three more performances, and bring all your friends. It would be wonderful if you could see the University of Melbourne alumni, some of who have been through the acting course at the VCA. So please support them, they do a fabulous job, and support them as I know you would want them to support you. And please ask all of your friends, if you want to see it a second or third time.
The only other thing I would say is that we’re trying to build up a great data base of student theatre at Melbourne University and if any of you who have been involved in any aspect of Melbourne student theatre to please give me any information you’ve got for our data base. And I’d like to encourage my colleagues in the other universities to think about how important student theatre is and the way in which it has been a significant contributor to Australian theatre history.