Tag Archives: Theatre

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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“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

Review in Nation Review

TheatreFebruary2006
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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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