NIDA and the New South Wales Drama Foundation set up the Jane Street theatre to encourage playwrights by offering try-out productions with young actors and directors. With some perceived successes and failures the overall importance of the venue and its early seasons was not the stable of playwrights and marketable scripts produced, but the way the young directors (Sharman, Bell and Cramphorn, especially) and actors (the Performance Syndicate and early Nimrod actors) found a multiplicity of approaches to performance, stimulated by popular theatre forms (vaudeville and musical knock-about) and access to a global avant-garde (Grotowski and Brook). The outcome was a range of vigorous and relevant new ways of presenting performances to audiences in Australia.


In a small, disused church in the Sydney suburb of Randwick, the Jane Street Theatre was set up in 1966 as a try-out venue for Australian stage writing. The funds for the initial season, sought by the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, were aimed at establishing a body of new local dramatic writing. It was hoped that any successes could be ‘picked up’ in the program of the affiliated Old Tote Theatre Company. This was a low-risk approach to new theatre. If this was a gamble, the wager was a gift and it was hoped that the winnings would be a string of ‘good’ – that is commercially ‘successful’ – local dramatic texts. Looking back, the real gains appear not as a dramatic treasure-trove, but in the work of the actors and directors who discovered at Jane Street new opportunities for exuberant and eclectic engagement by performers with provocative texts. From this milieu came Australian performance values which were distinctly vernacular, direct and energetic.

Looking for the Australian play – a quest of the 1950s, which had been met in many ways by the global success of The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll – became, by the late 1960s, a search for the new Australian play and led to a gradual acceptance in the following decade of the new Australian plays, with what was to become a comfortable emphasis on the plurality of texts, voices and identities.

At the end of the 1960s there was frustration amongst would-be playwrights because it was felt that few opportunities were open for Australian stage writers. Although Lawler, Mathew, Seymour, Morphett and a few others had made a name for themselves, these successful writers were all overseas or had turned to writing for television. Quite simply, at this point there were too few theatres in Australia to sustain a career writing for the stage (Hunt 1960; Cramphorne 1969a). The prevailing view dismissed the women writing with relative success for socialist theatres, especially the New Theatre. Mona Brand, for example, eclipsed all other Australian playwrights with the number of productions and performances her works had achieved internationally at the time. Socialist theatre did not count, apparently.

The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (AETT) had been set up in post-war Australia to support the performing arts nationally. The Englishman appointed as its head, Hugh Hunt, believed strongly in the development of a hierarchy of state companies with a single national theatre as the crowning institution. In many ways this was the model Tyrone Guthrie had proposed in Canada, although in a report to the Australian government he had cautioned that Australia was not yet ready for such a step. Hunt brought another Englishman, Robert Quentin – who had worked in Australia, Britain and North America – to run a national opera company. By the end of the 1960s Robert Quentin had been appointed the foundation Professor of Drama at the University of New South Wales; he had conceived of NIDA and its resident theatre company the Old Tote, which was named after the white timber building that was a reminder that the site had once been a racecourse. With Tom Brown from the Old Tote, Robin Lovejoy from the AETT and John Clark from NIDA, Quentin set up Jane Street Theatre.

The Old Tote had been less daring than the Melbourne Theatre Company and had avoided tackling productions of locally written plays. They feared they would lose their subscriber audience; and their location – some way from the central city – was problematic in any case. Testing their audience with locally written plays they saw as very risky. The Jane Street season was framed to evoke the sanctuary of an ‘experimental theatre’. It was to be a place where new work could address small audiences without risk to the main company and even fail outright without shame. Over time, however, this flexibility towards the processes of experimentation was not always to prevail at Jane Street.

At its inception H. G. Kippax (1966a) in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) quoted the brochure for the Jane Street season with approval:

We must have another theatre, no matter how modest, in which new Australian plays can be produced, simply but professionally, without the pressures which demand that every play must be a major success, and in which writers can co-operate with directors and actors.

In Australia, only a selected few plays from overseas are seen, and the long process of try-out, adjustment and improvement by which their excellence was obtained is readily forgotten.

Our writers are often damned because they do not achieve in one step what overseas writers have accomplished in many. We must have a theatre whose aim is the development of work in progress, not the immediate exploitation. (Kippax 1966a).

A benchmark had been set by the first of the new professional repertory companies to work with the AETT, the Union Theatre Repertory Company which changed its name to the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) in 1966. The MTC boss, John Sumner, responded in Masque to a question about their success encouraging Australian playwrights:

We always have plans to stage Australian plays, the trouble is there are so few new good Australian plays around. It is no good putting on lousy Australian plays, that does no good to anybody. […] Encouraging Australian playwrights – they certainly are encouraged in that, they know jolly well, that if they send up an original script that is good, we will be happy to put it on. Since 1953, on aggregate, I think we have been putting on two new Australian plays a year. The established writers, the ones with big names like Lawler and those of that calibre, don’t want their plays first presented here in Australia. Naturally, from the prestige point of view, it doesn’t mean enough to them. We would gladly put them on, we beg for them, we are just not able to have them. […] We read all scripts avidly, because we are always looking, of course, for the new Australian play (Rooke 1967:32).

The 1966 season at Jane Street included Lovejoy’s productions of I’ve Come About the Assassination by Tony Morphett, The Pier by Michael Thomas, and the nineteenth century piece The Currency Lass by Edward Geoghegan. Alexander Hay directed bothThe Lucky Streak by James Searle and Thomas Keneally’s play Halloran’s Little Boat.

The most challenging piece in the season was undoubtedly A Refined Look at Existence by the painter Rodney Milgate. Lovejoy directed this frank and local version of a Greek myth, bringing it beyond the Jane Street season for a further production with the Old Tote Company. With its non-naturalistic approach this work used Australian language and themes that can be seen as forerunners of the writing for the Australian theatre to come. Katharine Brisbane has recently reflected that this work was to be especially influential on writer Michael Boddy who was involved in it as an actor, and with Bob Ellis co-authored of The Legend of King O’Malley. She has suggested that with Milgate’s work, ‘the possibilities of a closer actor-audience relationship has been demonstrated’ (Brisbane 1998:vi).

The moderate success, but success, nonetheless, of the first season of Australian plays at Jane Street made the organisers bold enough to run a season of Australian works in their main stage theatre the next year. A Refined Look at Existence was reprised at the Parade Theatre, the Old Tote main stage; again it was directed by Lovejoy, but had a more well-known cast this time. Looking back however, at the initial season, hedged against failure by the out-of-the-way location Jane Street provided, Lovejoy reflected on why he had found the initial season more satisfying:

At Jane Street, we set out to focus on the workshop necessity of Australian writing – try to limit the focus of our experiment, giving the authors a fair go. The reaction went far beyond that. The audiences were clearly excited about the plays for their own sake, and if not positively excited, at least negatively excited. For the very first time in my struggles and trials in the Australian theatre I felt that there was an actual dialogue, or I prefer to say conversation, existing between the writer and his audience… Rodney Milgate’s Refined Look at Existence at Jane St. […] I felt that I needed a very young cast with the sense of mental, physical and verbal elasticity which the play demanded. To me the play came to life amazingly under those circumstances… involved the audience in a most extraordinary, and for me, a most elating way. It was the most exciting thing I’d ever done on the theatre. To feel the audience response, this was the peak of everything I’d ever done.” (Allen 1968a: 6-7).

The second Jane Street season in 1968 was made up of only one workshopped piece:Terror Australis directed by Jim Sharman. Although it was based around a script written by Richard Walsh and Dean Letcher – renowned for their satiric writing in Oz Magazine – and other material by Rick Billinghurst and Clem Gorman, this production was developed by the director and cast through improvisation. ‘What Sharman is doing is a new departure in many ways’, an article in Masque commented. ‘It puts experimental theatre on a new footing in this country, soundly backed by the establishment (in this case the Old Tote Theatre) and gathering together a group of people which is itself a little astounding’ (Allen 1968c:11). In the cast of Terror Australis was Helen Morse, Garry McDonald, and Peter Rowley who were NIDA-trained, and British-trained Jennifer West.

Terror Australis was Sharman and his team’s response to a violent decade, as discussed in a 1968 Masque article:

They have a definite point of view on Australian society – that it is narrow, conformist, short-sighted, bigoted and lacking in self-awareness. In an attempt to confront the audience in a new way, Sharman has devised a new form of rehearsal and presentation for the show. It is very much a team product […] the actors are trained in improvisation […]

There is no physical violence on stage, but the effect at times is that of high‑pitched hysteria created through mime, lighting, and sound. Violence is counterpointed with lyricism, in an attempt to grasp the audience and then stimulate them along new directions about their lives and habits. 

The production toys with normal audience relationships in an attempt to stimulate involvement. In one scene the actors circulate amongst the audience and harangue them with clichéd attitudes. In another, members of the audience are brought onto the stage and drawn into the action (Allen 1968c:11).

As a production, Terror Australis questioned Australia’s violent past, and showed aspects of the national identity that are racist and deeply problematic. It challenged the predominant mythology of pastoral tranquillity and growth, so cherished then as the self-image of much of conservative Australia. ‘The Australian ugliness’ was the architect Robin Boyd’s term in 1960, which summarised his critique of the Australian urban environment. Patrick White’s play Season At Sarsaparilla depicted another view of suburban barrenness that marked a clear preoccupation in modern Australian drama. In the 1969 Jane Street season Tony Morphett’s The Rise and Fall of Boronia Avenue and Alexander Buzo’s Rooted portrayed the toxic substrates in suburban life. Beyond problems of the built environment, these were the unresolved cultural questions central to modern Australia: questions of place and moral direction. Buzo created an impression of abject subservience towards a powerful but unseen authority figure; a comic bureaucrat ruling the office and the bedroom in an urban dystopia disturbing in the contradistinction of its motif of closing the options of urban life and the rural nostalgia concerned with heroic exploration that opened up an empty land. Performance of such new narratives denied the audience easy denial of the violence and conflict below the quiet surface of urban life. It refused self-satisfaction and denial in the face of national shortcomings.

NIDA graduate Rex Cramphorn1 had been invited in 1970 to direct a production of Cyril Tourneur’s classic, The Revenger’s Tragedy at the Theatre Royal in Hobart. With him, from Sydney, came a group of NIDA graduates committed to extended physical and vocal acting, based on the work of Jerzy Grotowski. Barbara Manning wrote enthusiastically about their Hobart production:

A brilliant revolutionary, completely absorbing piece of theatre. Visually it’s staggering. The actors work inside a huge, greyish‑white skull, like a shell, that fills the stage. […] Rex Cramphorne is a disciple of Jerzy Grotowski […]Towards a Poor Theatre has provided Rex Cramphorne with a hand-book, a tenuous link with his Polish contemporaries. From this book, exploring as he goes, and working with a group of Sydney actors as dedicated as he is, he has evolved a set of exercises aimed to develop complete physical and mental readiness and awareness. The cast of The Revenger’s Tragedy work each morning on the Grotowski exercises, and the result is obvious. There’s a clean decisiveness about the whole production that stimulates awareness in the audience, too, a sharp awareness that satisfies every sense (Manning 1970:46).

The Director of NIDA, John Clark, invited the group to return and form a postgraduate company at NIDA; and so they made up the core of the acting company for the 1970 Jane Street Theatre season. This was an opportunity to continue to develop themselves as a performance group, and by the end of the year the group was to become know as the Performance Syndicate.

John Bell also responded to an invitation to return, in his case from Britain, to teach at NIDA. This role also included directing The Legend of King O’Malley with the company at Jane Street. O’Malley was brash, utopian and formally daring; it can be said to embody the unambiguous emergence of modern theatre made in Australia. Its rehearsals were interlaced with workshops to develop the performers skills and to build towards the other project for Jane Street in 1970, which Rex Cramphorn directed, Ten Thousand Miles Away.

The acting company’s extended improvisatory approach saw the script of Ten Thousand Miles Away so entirely altered in the workshop process that its original attribution to David Malouf was no longer accurate. The authorship was changed to jointly acknowledge Willy Young – the Queensland writer working within the group – who later changed his name back to its Chinese form, and is renowned as photographer and performance-maker as William Yang. Eventually, as the project shifted through the workshop process, Yang alone was credited as author.

It was not accidental that the arts editor of the Bulletin chose to place Brian Hoad’s story on Rex Cramphorn’s production immediately following a two-page article on director Jerzy Grotowski and his Laboratory Theatre.

The poet David Malouf wrote a script, an arrangement of extracts from diaries, songs, letters and poetry relating to Captain Cook and the exploration of Australia. […] Now only the title remains: “Ten Thousand Miles Away.” Willy Young from NIDA, took the arrangement, précised it, used it, discarded it. […] Already in performance the words are beginning to crack and slide; detach themselves; transforming into whines or whispers, shrieks or hisses; covering themselves up as they sometimes do in opera as five or six or seven voices take them up and sing (or chant, or speak) in harmony or counterpoint or dissonance, capable of intensifying meaning in the very process of discarding meaning (Hoad 1970b:41).

Their collaboration on Ten Thousand Miles Away was the first of the Performance Syndicate’s investigative productions. Hoad described it as ‘avant‑garde’. He argued, ‘it is, after all, in a season of experimental theatre; it is a theatre going forward, and if you feel you do not like the idea of the way it is heading, then it may be thought of in terms of theatre going backwards, backward out of theatre into ritual, out of ritual into dance’ (Hoad 1970b:42).

Derek Nicholson commented, in an interview with Errol Bray (1989), on how closely the group worked with Cramphorn on this project: ‘It was the intensity of that group of actors’ work on Ten Thousand Miles Away that really made O’Malley work. I don’t think that was acknowledged at the time’, Nicholson said.

In John Bell’s seminal production of The Legend of King O’Malley, by Michael Boddy and Robert (Bob) Ellis, can be found the shared genesis of the Performance Syndicate and the Nimrod Theatre. A grab-bag of throw-away humour, musical numbers and song-and-dance showmanship, its youthful comeuppance was to stamp the new plays associated with Nimrod’s theatrical style. John Paramor played the title role in the production and Rex Cramphorn, himself, was in the cast. Nicholson recalled that the writers provided ‘the first act and the outline of the play, and then it was developed in rehearsals’ (Bray/Nicholson interview 1989).

Regardless of its improvisatory status, The Legend of King O’Malley, in this 1970 production, marked a major turning point in Australian theatre; it brought together a local dramatic language that was larrikin-tongued and rich in burlesque and pantomime. Bell’s production exploded into an exuberant celebration of nation.  O’Malley shifted the focus of NIDA’s interest in the development of an Australian dramatic literature and a preoccupation with ‘play writing’ to a concern with ‘playing’ Australian material. Without perhaps at first realizing that he had made this crucial switch, John Clark had allowed a major change in the strategy at Jane Street and it now focused on Australian performance. The Performance Syndicate were in step with the powerful presence and influence of the actors at La Mama and the Australian Performing Group (APG) in Melbourne.

In O’Malley, Katharine Brisbane recognised the timely arrival of a hitherto rarely heard national voice: ‘For me it has a particular pleasure because it synthesises so many of the elements which make up the Australian taste which for so long have been begging to be dramatised’ (Brisbane 1970a). The voice, of course is more than the Australian accent – the ‘strine’ which had become in the nineteen‑sixties a kind of jokey acknowledgment of our inability to speak ‘properly’. The ‘voice’ is really the tell-tale sign of the national persona. For Brisbane the play gave us ‘the first genuine larrikin-hero in our drama that I can put my finger on since colonial theatre’ (1970a).

The theatre laboratory investigations had ‘liberated’ new variants of Australian English in a public forum. Brisbane suggested, ‘what the co-authors of The Legend of King O’Malley have done – with their director, John Bell, for this is a thorough group creation – is in barely literate terms given us a man who is twice life size through the ratbag language of the theatre’ (Brisbane 1970a). This ratbag voice was rapidly to become the agent of the new Australian plays.

The initial 1970 Jane Street season of The Legend of King O’Malley looked to be the ‘success’ for which John Clark and Robin Lovejoy had been searching at Jane Street. John Bell’s production then transferred to the Parade Theatre. Entrepreneur Harry Miller offered to tour the production, but NIDA chose to stay with the AETT with which they had many affiliations. On this protracted national tour the zest of the original staging was not sustained and without the intimacy of the Jane Street space there was often a loss of rapport with audiences. It was not well received by critics in other cities. A lack of widespread approval left the NIDA and the NSW University Drama Foundation unsure about their support of the Jane Street project. The O’Malley director and cast, and ‘experimentation’ itself were under something of a cloud from the view in the ‘white house’ – the tote building that then still housed the administration.

Katharine Brisbane described these larrikin beginnings of the modern Australian theatre in Hemisphere, under the heading: ‘Preserving the Disreputable’. The disreputability of the ‘New Australian Plays’ was a reality in 1971. ‘The music hall-vaudeville tradition is very strong in Australia’, Brisbane wrote. ‘A working-class culture right from the convict days, its classic traditions have always been imposed from the outside from a nostalgic but untutored yearning for the best in the older cultures’ (Brisbane 1971a:31-2).

Initially the ‘New Australian Plays’ were offensive from a conservative perspective because they paid no allegiance to the middle-class aspirations and the British manner of the Old Tote, the Melbourne Theatre Company and commercial productions. This new work in Melbourne and Sydney had both the cheek to be down-to-earth in its embrace of vernacular language and culture, and then to assert its own legitimacy in place of the imported hybrid performance strain. Katharine Brisbane championed the new theatre, at this time, writing an article in the Australian entitled, ‘Not Wrong – Just Different’.        

There are plenty of things wrong with this country and we take masochistic delight in inviting distinguished foreigners and expatriate countrymen to expound on them. We have always felt the outsiders know because our standards have come from outside. For so long have we conformed, first to British and then to American standards, that it is from their distance that we call ourselves wrong. But there is much left, thank heaven, in Australia that is neither British nor American. Let us call it – not wrong but different. What has been stifling the Australian theatre is exactly this desire to conform to foreign standards (Brisbane 1971b).

Pointing to the novel postcolonial perspective of the play, Brisbane (1970a; 1970b) heralded O’Malley‘s audacious and overtly political satire. In O’Malley the Commonwealth Parliament was presented as a vaudeville show with a comic tone that had its local antecedents in the revue comedy of the Phillip Street Theatre and the lively satire in university revues of the time. Ken Harper (1984:68-9) has also argued the influence New Theatre revues such as Onstage Vietnam had on O’Malley.  Perhaps the importance of The Legend of King O’Malley was in the timely way it dared to present this local undercurrent of political satire in a work for the ‘legitimate’ stage. The dynamic interaction of the playwrights, director and actors, and the evident vitality of the performances were recognised as landmarks – yet its status as a widely celebrated ‘success’ was limited.

Cramphorn suggested that, ‘O’Malley‘s original charm was in slightness and spontaneity’ in the intimate venue in which it was created (Cramphorne 1971a:42). On tour the response was more hostile, as Cramphorn reported, ‘what has been “rough” became “clumsy”, what had been enthusiastic became “messy” and what had been “satirical” became “tasteless”‘. He added, ‘the epithet “student” had haunted us throughout the tour, although we had all worked professionally for long enough beforeO’Malley to feel that it was a trifle inaccurate’ (Cramphorne 1971a: 44).

The difficulty with O’Malley revealed some of the limitations in the reception of radical work in Australia, where there was no appropriate frame of reference. In October 1970, Denis O’Brien wrote an article in the Bulletin entitled, “If only O’Malley had been a good honest failure” which read in part:

Until The Legend of King O’Malley burst into view, Sydney’s Jane Street Theatre seemed to be programmed for failure – stiff-upper-lip failure, but failure nevertheless […] Of the 15 plays staged there – or, under its auspices, at the Old Tote – O’Malley is the only bell-ringer in four years of gallant experiment. Thus, unaccustomed as it is to success, the place wasn’t programmed to handle a runaway hit, and O’Malley , an unusual play in any circumstances, has had peculiar problems on its way from Jane Street to main street […] Michael Boddy has collected a sadly significant quote […] ‘Why couldn’t you,’ he was asked, ‘have written a good honest failure like everybody else?’ (O’Brien 1970b:44).

The other play scheduled for the 1970 Jane Street season was Stockade, commissioned from Kenneth Cook with the director Derek Nicholson. It was plagued with difficulties that arose from a rigidly conventional playwright meeting this wildly unconventional performance group. The play was withdrawn by the author and the production did not survive to a public season at Jane Street. This controversy the NIDA organisers met with a disgruntled public silence. The problem lay in the heart of the Jane Street project which had been set up as an ‘experimental theatre’ yet it had been organised along the administrative lines of a formal theatre organisation. Authors were commissioned to write plays for Jane Street; but in the hands of Cramphorn and Nicholson and the members of the Performance Syndicate these scripts were treated as a starting-point in the development of a production.

The Performance Syndicate then collaborated on a piece of musical theatre and this time the author was a member of the group, William Yang, who had been developingChildhead’s Doll in Brisbane with the composer Ralph Tyrrell. It was directed by Rex Cramphorn for the 1971 Jane Street Theatre season. The Performance Syndicate then worked with Cramphorn on several productions of classics beyond Jane Street. Especially memorable were William Yang’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Orestes at the Arts Factory, Paddington, in 1971 and the production of Shakespeare’s Pericles , the same year. The following year, 1972, saw the Performance Syndicate’s greatest achievement with a highly physical but elegantly simple production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It was initially funded as a schools touring production for the Old Tote. Later it had a season at the Chapter Housel at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney and toured nationally. The actors marked-out a circle which became the playing space for this production. At its centre they placed a large piece of driftwood that became in turn the ship, the staff, the crutch, the axis Mundi of the play’s cosmos. Brian Hoad (1972c:52) suggested in theBulletin that this production was the crowning achievement of Australian theatre in 1972. Never directly funded as a company, Hoad commented on the Performance Syndicate, at the moment in Australia’s theatre history when national funding for other institutions was secured for the first time,

Here is movement more significant than the Australian Ballet has yet been able to achieve. Here is the sort of music drama which should be (but unfortunately is not) the central objective of the Australia Opera. Here is a glimpse of total theatre as art. It is unique in Australia, and it will infuriate many who go and see it. There is no academic reverence here for the hallowed text – huge chunks have been cut away or are mumbled or chanted or otherwise made inaudible. But there is enormous reverence and understanding for the spirit of the play, and for the mystical power of theatre (Hoad 1972c:53).

A landmark Sydney production of David Williamson’s play, Don’s Party, was presented at Jane Street in 1972, directed by John Clark. It became an outright commercial success and NIDA offered it to the entrepreneur Harry Miller, who toured it nationally. This was a significant milestone in the acceptance of the viability of Australian play writing, as it brought together the bravura performances manifesting in Sydney with the political acuteness of the APG. Harry Kippax, who had somewhat cooled his enthusiasm for Australian plays, was carried along with the acclaim for this show, writing his much quoted comment, ‘OK – I surrender: we do have an Australian drama, and it’s doing very nicely, thank you. […] On the strength of Don’s Party […] I have no doubt that Mr Williamson is the best playwright working in Australia, and one of the best in the world’ (Kippax 1972).

More alive to the advances in performance style, Katharine Brisbane heralded the event: ‘An ecstatic new comedy finds an audience’. As the clear-voiced advocate of Australian theatre, Brisbane celebrated this production in her Australian column. Praising the director, she wrote, ‘John has turned a good play into a good marketable play […] from being a rather wild formless participatory play full of four-letter words it has become a disciplined comedy of character for an orthodox theatre’ (Brisbane 1972a:8). Significantly, here Brisbane was casting Jane Street not in the role of experimental studio, but as a conduit to main stages around the country. This may have been at variance with the stated policy of Jane Street, but it was in reality close to the thrust of the direction given to the project by NIDA. Although it continued until 1977, Jane Street had seen its most significant work.

With the success of Don’s Party and commissions from state theatre companies, Williamson and the ‘New Australian Plays’ became the staple of main stage companies. Brisbane was able to write in her Australian column in 1972, ‘The battle for recognition of our writers is pretty well won, now,’ and, she suggested, ‘now it is time to pay attention to the actors’. She recognised that the habitual emulation of English acting styles and English accents was out of date, and that the end had come to the spurious tradition of Standard English on the Australian stage. ‘Some of these actors have done well for themselves in the repertory system, revue and so on; all of them can do whatever accent you require. But they tend to fit awkwardly into the system’. Brisbane had recognised that it was that awkwardness that was ‘going to make them indispensable and by progression to make them stars – the kind who will take what our writers have to say around the world and make them understood’, she wrote. ‘They will discard the ideal of serving the play and the director and become the essential partner of the writer in making something unpredictable and surprising and our own’, she stated (Brisbane 1972a). Brisbane was the advocate and commentator who acknowledged the arrival of that breed of new actors who had worked at the Jane Street, Nimrod, the APG, and La Mama; a generation whose wide range of performance skill were to make it possible to tell Australian stories.



[1]     I have respected Rex Cramphorn’s wish to simplify the spelling of his name by dropping the final letter ‘e’; however I have left unchanged references to his publications and quotes about him where the earlier spelling was used.


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Manning, Barbara (1970). “Violent Poetry”, Bulletin, February 28, 1970, 46

Manning, Barbara (1971). “Can Dreams Come True?”, Bulletin, April 24, 1971, 54

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Rooke, Stephen (1967). “Masque talks to John Sumner”, Masque,November/December 1967, 32-3

Waites, James (1989). “Harry Kippax Re-viewed”, New Theatre Australia, March-April 1989, 4-5