Tag Archives: Australian Performing Group

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

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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.

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KEITH DUNSTAN

Dunstan-25032014

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KIT NEILSON

Kit Neilson part 1
Kit Neilson Part 2

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GARRIE HUTCHINSON

Hutchinson April 76

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THE TRIBUNE

Tribune 1976

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COLIN TALBOT

Talbot april 76 part 1
Talbot April 76 part 2

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IAN MARSHALL

Marshall April 76

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LEONARD RADIC

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

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THE SOUTHERN CROSS

Southern cross april 76

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PUBLICITY IN THE SUN, MELBOURNE

Publicity heading
Photo of Evelyn
Publicity blurb april 76

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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.

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The Age, 13 March 1976


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

The Australian, 8 March 1976
Toast-To-Melba-Adelaide-Review-Hutchinson-8March1976_p1
Toast-To-Melba-Adelaide-Review-Hutchinson-8March1976_p2

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Nation Review, 26 March 1976

Toast-To-Melba-Adelaide-Review-Jute-26March1976_p1
Toast-To-Melba-Adelaide-Review-Jute-26March1976_p2

 

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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.)


Cover
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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“The Golden Holden” by John Romeril.

The APG performed “The Golden Holden” at the Pram Factory theatre in December 1975 and January 1976. Shown here is a 2-page promotional leaflet prepared by the APG. On page 2 of the leaflet is a piece written by John Romeril titled “The Genesis of ‘The Golden Holden'”.
John Romeril

Romeril’s piece touches on the great political turmoil in Australia at the time. On 11 November 1975 the Whitlam Labor Government was dismissed by the Governor-General in controversial/baffling circumstances, and the election on 13 December 1975 was won by the Liberal/National Country Party coalition.
The Golden Holden 1 The Golden Holden 2

For Romeril’s amusing and valuable memoir of the APG – “Last Words on a Nearly Made It Theatre: Memoir of a Survivor” – click HERE.

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Introducing the Australian Performing Group of the 70s

Overview

The then unnamed Australian Performing Group (APG) from Melbourne started out in 1967 as a group of writers and actors working together at La Mama theatre in Carlton. In 1970 the APG was officially formed and then set up a theatre in a former pram factory in Drummond Street, Carlton.  Here, and in other venues throughout Melbourne and other parts of Australia, the ensemble presented alternative, experimental, avant-garde and radical plays, stage shows, street theatre and circus acts, using comedy, drama, music and dance to entertain and to turn the spotlight on its concerns about social, political and feminist issues. The ensemble also produced a record album (“The Great Stumble Forward: Matchbox and the APG at the Pram”) and a feature length movie (“Dimboola”).   Many of the hundred-plus works performed by the APG between 1970 and 1979 received critical and popular acclaim. APG performers and writers had a major impact on the nature and content of live theatre in Australia. Their government-subsidized organisation provided acting, designing, and playwriting opportunities to many artists who might not otherwise have had the chance to create.

But by 1981 the group had disintegrated. The only surviving part is “Circus Oz”, an APG off-shoot formed in 1978 when the APG’s Soapbox Circus and The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band joined with the New Ensemble Circus of Adelaide.  It continues to perform in Australia and internationally to this day (July 2013). 

Actors, performers, writers, directors and artists

Listed below are writers, actors, directors, artists and others who were part of the APG and/or its Soapbox Circus during its heyday, and whose names may be well known to “mature-age” lovers of Australian alternative theatre, circus, film and television. As others have said, “some (of these people) had a brief connection with the APG; others were there for a long time and were instrumental in its success”.

Blundall, Graeme
Bolza, Joe
Broadway, Sue
Buzo, Alex
Chapman, Eileen
Chong, Rose
Clifton, Jane
Coldwell, Tim
Conway, Mick
Corrigan, Peter
Costelloe, Rose
Cummins, Peter
Daly, Bob
Davies, Lindy
de Winter, Roz
Dickins, Barry
Dobbin, Claire
Dreyfus, George
Duigan, John
Dwyer, Kerry
Finlay, Peter
Frank, Laurel
Friedel, Jan
Friedel, Martin
Garner, Bill
Gedye, Kelvin
Giles, Neil
Gillies, Max
Green, Peter
Hampton, Paul
Hannan, Bill
Hannan, Lorna
Harrison, Ursula
Hawkes, Jon
Hawkes, Ponch
Hibberd, Jack
Ingelton, Sue
Isaac, Graeme
Kemp, Jenny
Kendall, David
Koenig, John
Krape, Evelyn
Last, Wilfred
Laurie, Robin
Maddison, Ruth
Marini, Yvonne
Meldrum, Robert
Meltzer, Larry
Mokotow, Fay
Motherwell, Phil
Mullett, Jane
Murphet, Richard
Oakley, Barry
Pickhaver, Greig
Potter, Susy
Porter, Carol
Price, Michael
Richards, Alison
Robertson, Alan
Robertson, Tim
Romeril, John
Shuv’us, James
Sky, Hellen
Smith, Lindzee
Spears, Steve
Spence, Bruce
Taylor, Tony
Thorneycroft, Bob
Waddell, Gary
Weiner, Jack
Weiss, Bob
Williamson, David
(As I think of/become aware of others I will add them to the list.)

Management

Like most of its productions, management at the APG was also radically different. Instead of a conventional, hierarchical structure, the APG was run as a self-managed collective.  Nevertheless, the roles played by John Timlin (publicity and administration) and Jon Hawkes (acting and administration) at times approximated that of manager or overseer.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, management became somewhat chaotic as the APG grew and conflicts between sub-groups arose. Several influential members departed, some because they became tired of attending the many committee and group meetings held.

Productions

It has been estimated that the APG performed/staged up to 150 theatrical productions. Of those the following are probably the best known from the group’s heyday (alphabetically):

A Stretch of the Imagination
A Toast to Melba
At the Feet of Daniel Mannix
Back to Bourke Street
Betty Can Jump
Beware of Imitations
Carboni
Chicago Chicago
Chris Langham’s One Man Show
Diary of a Madman
Dimboola
Domestic Contradictions – Socialism in One Room
Don’s Party
Dreamers of the Absolute
How Grey Was My Nurse
It’s a Mad World My Masters
Knuckle
Marvellous Melbourne
Mary Shelley and the Monsters
Mickey’s Moomba
My Foot, My Tutor
On Yer Marx
Pecking Orders
Peggy Sue
Phar Lap – It’s Cingalese for Lightning, Y’know
Radio Active Horror Show
Sisters
Smak’in The Daks
Soabox Circus
Stasis
The Bob and Joe Show
The Dudders
The Floating World
The Golden Holden
The Hills Family Show
The Overcoat
The Ship’s Whistle
Traitors
White With Wire Wheels
Yesterday’s News
Yours for the Masking

History and Opinions in Books, Papers and Online

Thousands of words have been written about the Australian Performing Group and the Pram Factory Theatre.   The best that I have read are:

  • “Make it Australian: The Australian Performing Group, the Pram Factory and New Wave Theatre”, by , 2008, Currency Press. To see click HERE. 

  • The Pram Factory website, developed by Suzanne Ingleton and with the support of
    The Myer Foundation: http://www.pramfactory.com/.

  •  “When The Way Out Was In: Avant-Garde Theatre in Australia, 1965-1985”, by Adrian John Guthrie, University of Wollongong. A thesis. 1996. See pages 57 onwards. A copy of the thesis, in PDF format, can be downloaded from HERE.

  • “The Pram Factory: The Australian Performing Group Recollected”, by Tim Robertson, 1997, Melbourne University Press.  Currently (April 2017) the book appears to be unavailable from sellers of new books, but may be available on Ebay or its like.

PramLogo_PramOnly

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