Category Archives: Alternative theatre

“Back To Bourke Street” poster from the APG (for the September 1977 season)

“Back To Bourke Street” was staged by the Australian Performing Group on several occasions and at several venues. (More information to come.) This poster advertises a return season of 7 late-night shows, three at La Mama theatre and four at the Pram Factory, in September 1977. The show was devised by Claire Dobbin, Libby Drake, Eveyn Krape and Tony Taylor.

Poster Back To Bourke St Sept 1977


Theatre Australia magazine – Carlton special – 1977

Theatre Australia cover

Max Gillies – 1977 (Cover photo by Ian McKenzie)

This edition of Theatre Australia contains articles titled:

  • “Ten Years of Carlton Theatre” by Garrie Hutchinson (with photos from 1969 and 1970);
  • “The Many Masks of Max Gillies” by John Larkin;
  • “Carlton Designs” by Peter Corrigan (with photos of sets for the plays “City Sugar”, A Floating World”, “Pecking Orders”, “The Mother”, “Crackers at the Savoy” and “Canned Peaches”.; and
  • Playscript – “Marvelous Melbourne” – Part One, with an introduction by Jack Hibberd on “How Marvelous Melbourne Came to Life”.

pram Factory Advert Theatre Australia

Advertisement appearing in the “Carlton special” edition of Theatre Australia magazine, August 1977

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“Sisters” poster from the APG

“Sisters” was staged by the Australian Performing Group in the front theatre of its Pram Factory theatre in Carlton from May 20 to June 23, 1976. Written by Robin Thurston, it was a prison show written by a man but with an all-female cast. They are pictured below in a copy of the poster.

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Dressed up and recording the Hills Family Radio Show: exclusive photos

“The Hills Family Show” was arguably the most popular and critically acclaimed theatre production by the Australian Performing Group. (More memorabilia from this production will be posted on this site later.)

The fact that the APG recorded a version of the Hills Family Show for radio seems to have been overlooked in written accounts of the APG.

The in-costume recording took place at the Pram Factory Theatre in Carlton on Saturday, 3 July 1976. (Max Gillies’ injured arm is real!) I believe the recording was aired on community radio station 3CR, Melbourne. Over the next few weeks I will be posting here my 20 exclusive photos of the event. (I’m almost certain that I was the only person at the event with a camera.) Peter J Keenan 25/6/2014.

Number of photos posted to 8/9/2014 = 15

Photo 1 – Max Gillies, Sue Ingleton, Tony Taylor, Fay Mokotow, Robert Meldrum, Evelyn Krape and Bill Garner, July 1976

All dressed for recording

Photo 2 (below) – Evelyn Krape and Fay Mokotow, July 1976

Hills Krape Mokotow

Photo 3 (below) – Jon Hawkes, juggling on radio, July 1976

Jon Hawkes juggling

Photo 4 (below) – Susy Potter, making sounds with her feet, July 1976

Susy Potter

Photo 5 (below) – Jack Weiner and Sue Ingleton tickle the ivories, July 1976


 Weiner and Singleton


Photo 6 (below) – Sue Ingleton, July 1976

Sue Ingleton by herself

Photo 7 (below) – Fay Mokotow and Robert Meldrum, July 1976

Fay and Robert dancing

Photo 8 (below) – Tony Taylor and Max Gillies, July 1976. (In background: Lloyd Carrick, sound recordist, Sue Ingleton, Robert Meldrum and Bill Garner.)

Tony and Max

Photo 9 (below) – Fay Mokotow and Max Gillies, July 1976.
Fay and Max

Photo 10 (below) – Evelyn Krape, July 1976

Evelyn Krape at mike

Photo 11 (below) – Robert Meldrum, Sue Ingleton, Evelyn Krape, Tony Taylor, Max Gillies and Bill Garner, July 1976

Several at mikes

Photo 12 (below) – Tony Taylor, Jack Weiner, Bill Garner and Max Gillies, July 1976

Four Hills

Photo 13 (below) – Max Gillies, July 1976

Max Gillies

Photo 14 (below) – Bill Garner, July 1976

Bill Garner

Photo 15 (Below) – Fay Mokotow and Robert Meldrum, July 1976

Fay and Robert

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Australian Performing Group Actors Agency brochure 1975

This is the second brochure prepared by the Actors Agency run by the APG . It was prepared in 1975 and contains photographs and short biographies of the following actors, with a page allocated to each:

Joe Bolza, Eileen Chapmen, Jane Clifton, Roz deWinter, Claire Dobbin, Bill Garner, Neil Giles, Max Gillies, Sue Ingelton, Evelyn Krape, Wilfred Last, Yvonne Marini, Robert Meldrum, Fay Mokotow, Greig Pickhaver, Carol Porter, Susy Potter, Michael Price, Tim Robertson, Tony Taylor and Bob Thorneycroft.

Joe BolzaEileen ChapmanJane CliftonRoz deWinterClaire DobbinBill GarnerNeil GilesMax GilliesSue IngeltonEvelyn KrapeWilfred LastYvonne MariniRobert MeldrumFay MokotowGreig PickhaverCarol PorterSusy PotterMichael PriceTim RobertsonTony TaylorBob Thorneycroft Red line small


Larger venue causes mixed reaction to “Melba” production at National Theatre

After the Australian Performing Group performed “A Toast to Melba” in Adelaide to critical and popular acclaim, it moved the production to the much larger National Theatre in St Kilda, opening on 1 April 1976. Not everyone was as impressed. Here are reviews by Keith Dunstan (The Sun), Kit Neilson, Garrie Hutchinson (The Australian), L.R. (The Tribune), Colin Talbot (Nation Review), Ian Marshall, Leonard Radic (The Age), and The Southern Cross, together with some publicity pieces from the Melbourne Sun.






Kit Neilson part 1
Kit Neilson Part 2



Hutchinson April 76



Tribune 1976



Talbot april 76 part 1
Talbot April 76 part 2



Marshall April 76



Radic April 76 part1
Radic April 76 part2
Radic April 76 Part 3
Radic April 76 part 4
Radic April 1976 part 5
Radic April 76 part 6



Southern cross april 76



Publicity heading
Photo of Evelyn
Publicity blurb april 76




High praise from critics for “A Toast to Melba” at 1976 Adelaide Festval

The Australian Performing Group performed “A Toast to Melba”, its new play by Jack Hibberd, at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March 1976 and received high praise from critics. Here are the reviews by Leonard Radic (The Age), Garrie Hutchinson (The Australian), Andre Jute (Nation Review) and The Bulletin’s critic.


The Age, 13 March 1976

Leonard Radic part 2
Leonard Radic part 3
Leonard Radic part 4_______________________________________________

The Australian, 8 March 1976


Nation Review, 26 March 1976




The Bulletin part 1

Bulletin part 2

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Programme-booklet for “A Toast to Melba” by Jack Hibberd at the National Theatre in 1976

This is a copy of the programme/booklet for the APG’s production of “A Toast to Melba” performed at the National Theatre in St Kilda for 4 weeks from 1 April 1976. It includes photos of Claire Dobbin, Peter Finlay, Max Gillies, Paul Hampton, Jack Hibberd, Evelyn Krape, Fay Mokotow, Tony Taylor and Jack Weiner, and the names and descriptions of the various real and fictional characters they played. The photos appear to have been taken by Jane Clifton. (“A Toast to Melba” premiered at the Adelaide Festival (Theatre 62) in March 1976.)

Cast List
Claire Dobbin
Peter Finlay
Max Gillies
Paul Hampton and Jack Weiner
Jaxk Hibberd
Evelyn Krape
Fay Mokotow
Tony Taylor
About the play
Coming shows
About the APG

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“Yours for the Masking” and “How Grey was my Nurse” in 1976

Presented as a double bill at the Pram Factory theatre, “Yours for the Masking” and “How Grey was my Nurse” ran from the 23/1/76 to 22/2/76. The images that appear here are: a display advertisement for the production; the first two pages of a programme prepared for those attending; a newspaper photograph for promotional purposes; a review of the two shows by Robin Prentice for the Nation Review; and a photo by me of the Pram Factory theatre in February 1976.

Display advertisement

Display advertisement

Programme Page 1

Double bill programme: page 1

Programme Page 2

Double bill programme: Page 2

Promotional photograph

Promotional photograph.


Review in Nation Review


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“Pramocracy – The Alternative Theatre in Carlton”, by John Timlin, 1974-75

John Timlin

John Timlin, pictured with son, Michael, in September 2007. Photo by Craig Sillitoe. The Age, 2/9/2007.

 Written by John Timlin, “Pramocracy – The Alternative Theatre in Carlton”,  has long been an important source for researchers and writers looking at the history of the Pram Factory Theatre and the Australian Performing Group.

For most of the 1970s,  John Timlin was the APG’s  publicist and quasi administrator. He also acted as agent for several writers, including Jack Hibberd and John Romeril.

“Pramocracy” (as it has become known) appears to have been written a few months after the Federal Election held in May 1974, for Timlin refers to that election as if it had occurred fairly recently.  (At that election Gough Whitlam’s Labor Party was returned to Government following a double dissolution.) At the time the APG was, according to Timlin, suffering an “identity crisis”.

The document published below in its entirety is a dog-eared draft of “Pramocracy”  with John’s handwritten heading and alterations on it.

Pramocracy 01
Pramocracy 02
Pramocracy 03
Pramocracy 04
Pramocracy 05
Pramocracy 06
Pramocracy 07
Pramocracy 08
Pramocracy 09
Pramocracy 10
Pramocracy 11
Pramocracy 12
Pramocracy 13
Pramocracy 14
Pramocracy 15
Pramocracy 16
Pramocracy 17
Pramocracy 18
Pramocracy 19
Pramocracy 20
Pramocracy 21
Pramocracy 22
Pramocracy 23
Pramocracy 24
Pramocracy 25
Pramocracy 26
Pramocracy 27
Pramocracy 28
Pramocracy 29
Pramocracy 30
Pramocracy 31
Pramocracy 32

Other versions of the paper

(added to this blog on 28/8/2013)

A least one other version of this paper – with additional paragraphs and with paragraphs deleted – has been published elsewhere. The version published on the Pram Factory website (developed by Sue Ingleton) and published in The Way Out magazine (which now appears on its website), has the following additional paragraphs appearing at the end:

“This seeming masochism is, however, germane to democratic participation; workers’ control of the theatre. The fact of stardom, fame etc. cannot entitle one person to have a vote affecting the lives of others whilst they are, possibly, so distant from the theatre as to be ignorant of the issues, arguments and personalities.

The Collective has, in this respect, tightened somewhat – if a member is absent from four consecutive monthly Collective meetings, membership (subject to appeal) lapses and the privilege of priority for employment disappears. This, of course, allows us to change;; those who opt for the security and comparatively high pecuniary rewards of lengthy film, television or theatre contracts are exercising their choice and, by so doing, effectively resigning and creating space for others, thus injecting new blood and, potentially a new theatricality into the Group.

Somehow, for journalists, Arts Council people and theatre workers outside, there is something difficult about accepting the actuality of democratic control in the APG. They want to believe in leaders, authority figures, etc. They find the oppositionist stridency of the APG somewhat uncomfortable, the postures that emerge from its moral well-spring difficult to live with. Doubtless, its stance on many issues can transmute into image-making rhetoric but there is a certain purity of intention, not yet fully articulated theatrically, which may enable the group to persist and withstand the fiscal and critical difficulties which always are at the jugular of innovative, anti-establishment theatre groups. In March 1972, in a letter to the Group, sometime member, Margaret Williams, now a critic and academic at the University of NSW, wrote:
‘… I think that what is in many ways the Group’s strongest quality is also its least endearing quality – at least to those outside it – namely, a kind of (dare I say it?) arrogance; a messianic certainty of its anointed role as custodian of the Australian drama … I think that quality is an asset, and it may well be that that is the magic talisman which will keep the APG alive and kicking where so many other groups, equally committed, have failed …’.

Drama is a communal art. It needs writers and actors and technicians and ticket sellers and designers and painters of walls. Without each other, not one of these people would be meaningful. In so far as the APG is an alternative, it is so because its political form is such as to give each person a share in deciding what affects another. It is frightening to each of us at different levels, for different reasons but, for those of us who choose to remain, it is the best way to work; trust is the only way in which the theatre can take those risks necessary to create something new.”

On the other hand, the following parts from the original scanned document appearing on this blog do not appear in the other version just mentioned:

  • The dialogue between The Prosecutor and Actor: see sections 5 and 6.
  •   All the writing contained in the scanned document between the words “… stardom and the buck” and “It is true that …”. This is 6 paragraphs with a total of approximately 670 words.


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