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big change/small shift


The last couple of years have seen a slow but steady shift in me away from a life I used to lead, and thought for a while this year that I still did. As of course, one is always the last to know oneself, it has taken me until around about now to understand exactly what the nature of that shift is, and why it has occurred. Believing for a while that it was simply a case of ‘gross discontent’ with my lot, a big, scary dose of Saturn return, or simply emotional burnout, I at once thought that perhaps a good wedding and a week off would do the trick. Alas, as that elusive week off loomed, I began to realise that the affliction was far less disease-like (ie: not temporary, and not ‘fixable’), and resembled more accurately the shedding of a snake its skin, or the chrysalis-to-winged-insect transmutation. I’ve been changing. Hurrah.

Pretty terrifying thing, going through one’s ‘normal’ daily existence realising that it is no longer suited to oneself. Not, I think however that that change – that internal shift – is ever made necessarily terribly overt, so to speak. That is to say that I highly doubt its self evidence to any other but myself, and perhaps, my husband. But it’s important to put forth, for me at least, into the ether, as I suppose my output in this particular format may begin to shift, and I feel it necessary to preface with some sort of (albeit vague) explanation of what may be taking place internally.

A few years ago, when I was writing Mink Tails, I went to the theatre most nights of the week. I lived alone (as in, single), in a share house with two others. Both of my housemates were actors, one also a film director. It was a difficult time. I held various jobs, wrestled with how to divide my time between money earning and art-making, convinced myself I enjoyed a lot of the acting jobs I did, when in hindsight I realise now that I probably didn’t, and saw as much work as humanly possible: good, bad or indifferent. I was happy, in my own funny way. I had a purpose, I had a blog. I had drive, zeal, passion and all that. I had something to do on weekends, and usually a ready-made group of friends (read: colleagues) with whom to get blotto and maudlin post-show. Single, the manifestations of my having responsibilities to no-one (least of all, myself) were hilarious, and at the ripe-old-age of ‘my late-twenties’, I can now look back and in quavering, geriatric tones, chuckle about the heady days of my youth. What I find truly funny now, however, is that I believed that this might never end. I honestly believed that this was my life, and that I would forge forever onwards in this fashion. Oh, sure I might move out of my share house and into a little flat on my own (with cat, of course). Eventually, I would move overseas and form a collective. Or would I? Might I just stay in Melbourne and toil on, eking out my own creative niche in this city? Whatever the future had fated for me, it would be steadfastly rooted in a performing arts community – the thing I called home – and I would largely be a lone agent. Seeing half-a-dozen works per week, blogging nightly until 3am with a wine in one hand, and my cat curled up on my lap. How delightfully spinsterish.

Oh, how things do change.

Without putting it all down to coupling, I have to confess that my life since settling into domestic bliss has been radically different. For one thing, I stopped wanting to be out every single evening. In fact, quite the contrary, I wanted to stay in, most nights, curled up on the couch in domestic bliss (with wine and cat, as well, no less). I never predicted I would be the type. And at first, I couldn’t fathom what that could possibly mean. Was it a terrible middling? Had I let all my intellectual priorities fly in the face of love and comfort? Was I a disastrous cog in the great cultural downfall of the nation? Was I sacrificing everything once held dear for a third-round viewing of all seven seasons of The West Wing? But no. On more careful and reasoned analysis of the situation it is quite clear to me that it is all a simple question of domestic psychology. Being out at the theatre every night, I had been seeking a sense of belonging – a sense of home. Believing in some perverse fashion that I might find it amongst my colleagues and their work, I continued searching – working vainly through my (frequent) disillusionment, thinking that ‘if I just saw enough’ that it may, one evening, reveal itself in some obscure, yet-to-be-understood form. But here, in fact, on a couch, with my life partner (and cat), I had found it. Home. That sense of utter and complete belonging. No more was I searching. And so, when it came to see work in the evenings, I approached each outing with a very changed palate. I felt nothing that resembled my former thirst. And I thought there was something very wrong with me.

And so I struggled, for almost two years with this question. “Why don’t I yearn to see work in the way I used to?” I had thought perhaps it was because I had seen so much work that had hurt me, that I was no longer inclined to put myself in harm’s way so often. But, as I’m not really the kind to be once-bitten-twice-shy, I strongly doubted that theory. Because of course the reality was that I used to go to the theatre hotly, as if to see a new lover. It is rare that I feel that way before seeing a work anymore. There has been one this year, before which I quivered with anticipation. Only one. And I am happy to say that it did not disappoint. But that could be for a myriad of reasons, none of which are related to the scale upon which I once assessed the artistic success of a piece of theatre. And so, I suppose, it became evident to me, that in order to continue to enjoy theatre going, and involvement in theatre full-stop, I needed to severely limit my exposure to it. Otherwise it becomes a little like work. Which, while acceptable for a time, inevitably breeds contempt. And, as it was once beloved to my heart, that is the last sentiment I wish to feel towards my old flame.

But what does it all mean in terms of theatre practice? Good question. Well, small doubt it has been an incredibly busy year for little old me. I started out, thinking I had it all sorted, in place, and with plenty of time and energy allocated for the accomplishment of each (ginormous) project undertaken. This year I worked variously as a director/dramaturg, actor, writer/devisor, devisor/director, and a myriad of other incarnations of all of the aforementioned in between. Good, juicy stuff, right? Absolutely. I went through hell, I went through heaven. It was glorious and painful and often both at once. Financially it has sucked pretty much most of the time. Even when I was being paid to act, I was scraping every penny together to pay for the next show I was going to produce. Such is the life. Such is the life. And so, I learned – oh. So much. I have to say, my understanding of the craft of theatre expanded at least ten-fold in the last twelve-month period alone. There really is something to be said for continuous fucking practice. And then there is a whole other thing to be said for complete fucking burnout.

Well. There will be some to whom this next move of mine will seem like selling-out and walking away. Quitting when the going gets tough? This is hardly the case from where I stand. In fact, there’s a little bit of leaping out of the frying pan and into the flames going on over here. I want to continue to love theatre. I want to continue to run my company and feel passionate about making work, learning more, developing my skills, nurturing other people’s, and supporting my peers’ output, too. In order for this to happen, I need to do two things: I need to a) take a break, and b) earn enough money to survive. I made big financial sacrifices this year to accommodate the creation of so much work. N and I ended up living off his really meagre casual actor-teaching wage, a tiny bit of screen testing, and not a lot else. We made a lot of A/R on our credit cards, and while this is certainly not something I regret, it isn’t something I ever want to do again. 2009 was one of those ‘final fling’ years. The last big hurrah before you get serious about life. And I’ve been torn. Believe me. What does ‘serious about life’ mean? Does it mean ‘settling’? Surely, one must continue to live la vie bohème at all costs, sacrificing nothing, least of all one’s integrity. Sure. But our twenty-year-old our car has no air conditioning, and on days where the mercury tips 30, it’s a fucking oven. So… balance, baby. Balance.

The overriding idea behind starting my own business is to gain enough financial freedom to be eventually able to return (at least part-time at first) to the creation of work, and be not beholden to the constraints of external financial forces. N now handles the bulk of screen testing and tutoring (he has more flair – and stomach for it than I). I have enrolled in NEIS. Like many great artsy business people who have gone before me, I am going to be working my little tushy off over the next three-to-six months to get my own little enterprise up and running, and eventually, raking in the cash, so that eventually-eventually, I can return to my own work, unencumbered. However, and I can not make this clear enough (especially to myself), the business itself must be viewed as an enterprise that is entirely sistered with my own art practice. Whilst I will be arse-deep in PAYG tax, insurance, work cover, security, inventories, POS systems, outgoings, and commercial leases, I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that every single creative decision made within the business is authentic, and a direct result of all that I have learned in my practice across the last eight years. The rest is just jumping through hoops with which I am already vaguely familiar. It’s not a big leap for me, from independent theatre company/artist to artsy retail outfit. As in, not a bit leap in terms of headspace. Yes, the amount of work involved in its execution will be phenomenal. However, I grew up in a small business family, and have been at both my parents’ side as businesses grew and fell and grew again. The ins and outs of small business are second nature to me, and I suppose that that is a truly wonderful, and very useful gift, and one that I no longer wish to overlook.

And it is true. All this time that I have been eking out a meagre existence via agent and ABN, I have missed and yearned for small business desperately. Screen testing, while a great toe in the waters is such a limited market, and negates my ability to exercise such a myriad of skills that I have garnered across the years. This is me giving myself the opportunity to put everything into play. To really dictate the playing field. To make mistakes for myself, too – oh yes. For, in so many casual shit-job positions I’ve held (particularly retail, hospitality, etc.) all I’ve wanted to do is wade on in there and fix shit up. Innovate, et cetera – show my employer how to do things better. It was a huge part of my childhood, really, as well. Silently observing the things my parents did really well, and the things they could shift for the benefit of the business. It is, as they say, in my blood. Seeing just what I can achieve with this gift truly excites me.

So, it feels to me like a big change and a small shift at once. Big because, well, there’s a lot to do. A whole lot. Small because in actual fact, very little is changing. I’m still going to be making art, just in a different context. I’m still going to be dancing between my right brain and left on a daily basis, only that I am going to have to be far more disciplined with the points of transition that I ever have before. This is my enterprise, so I make the rules. And along the way, I get to rediscover my love for theatre, and what it means to me to be a theatre practitioner, a writer, an entrepreneur, an actor, an installation artist, etc, etc, etc. But differently. Slightly differently.





Je suis ici.


Sorry, sorry. Crap. Haven’t posted for a quite a while by the looks of it. Many reasons. Mostly busy-ness which sounds rather boring, but from this end has been somewhat exciting. I am getting hitched, for those of you who don’t know, in one week’s time. In fact, yep. This time next week, I’ll be getting my slap and frock on, and sipping pre-ceremony champagne. And then I’ll be all wifed. Amazing, huh?

Without descending into the sentimental (for God knows, I will have a big cry if I do), I want to extend my thanks to all who shared Attract/Repel with me, and a super extra special thanks to those who helped to make it happen. In every sense. One of the more rewarding artistic experiences I have had in my body of practice. I am so very humbled by the spirit and generosity of the artists with whom I worked. And gosh, did I ever learn a lot. So, we’re putting her to bed for a while, I’m sure we’ll rouse her again at some stage in the not so distant future. But for me? I’m on to somewhat different projects, after a bit of a well-earned honeymoon.

Something absolutely dazzling which gets to occupy some of my time before the wedding however is this: A few days ago, I received a box in the mail from Elizabeth Hunter Spreen of Ghost Light – containing some objects, ideas, some video, images, to respond to… and then return with response enclosed in box. The artists involved in the project in the US will then go on to respond to my response, et cetera. I haven’t been able to do anything with it for days because I haven’t been able to piece together what needs to be executed – how to put the bits of the pattern together in my mind. Today it has dawned on me, and I’m off to the studio to create my response. I wonder whether I’ll be happy with it. It will be working in a fairly new medium for me.

I might write more on it if I’m happy with what I end up making, and if it sheds any light on what happens next. Some new things are slowly beginning to unpack themselves for me about my work. Some really essential philosophical things, and others that have far more to do with the practicalities of time and mode of practice. And thusly, I suppose, priorities are making themselves very clear to me. I can look back on the last few projects I have done, and say, “Yes, now I would do this, differently, and this, and this, and this.” Some of these things are very much artistic choices, things I wish I had more perspective on. Others are… a matter of mind-set. Seeing some things less as compromise, and rather opportunity, and others, the other way around – perhaps some of the time you must be all the more conscientious. “No, I will not do this particular thing, if it can not ultimately be just that – particular.”

At the gym I work out to my mini-screen embedded in my treadmill. Today on SBS there was a treat – a documentary on the making of, the fact of the existence of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris (Contempt). In one section of a recent interview, Godard says with regards to previously made artistic choices, “You must never regret something. You can say that it is bad. But you must never regret it.”

a creative hangover


Alors. Attract/Repel being up and running is a tough, tough thing. I’m not in there every night (a good thing), and the nights that I am strategically planted in one of the far back corners of the audience, I can’t yell shit out to the performers while they’re on stage (also a good thing, I suspect). It’s extraordinarily difficult for me. And so, now I am playing with how to give the performers enough outside-eye-guidance so as to ensure the show stays as buoyant and fresh as it landed on opening night, but also so that the cast can without question retain ownership of their own work. Too much, or too little can tip the scales with potentially disastrous effects. This dilemma could exist simply  because I am a perfectionist freak and am trying to achieve the impossible (total control, whilst allowing the work complete independence). At any rate, I don’t feel that the average ‘cutting of the apron strings’ gestures can be applied to this work – attention and care needs to be given right through until the last audience member exits the auditorium on the final performance. I could just be over thinking it at this stage, too.

It’s grand final day in Melbourne. Never having been a ‘footy person’ the weird fervour that grips this city’s streets unsettles me, somewhat – I feel like I am being edged out of my own existence to a degree. Particularly sensitive to an over-inundation of particular combinations of colours and truly awful, poorly constructed anthems, I usually find a way to hide myself away for a good twelve hours. I am told that there will be a grand-final-party in the function room adjacent to the theatre this evening, of which I am truly terrified. Sound bleed? Not a great deal I can do about it, but bump the sound levels up in the installation, and hope to god it rains so that the tin roof drowns out the noise drunken brawls, chants, off-tune singing, etc. Pretentious? Perhaps. Believe me, I have tried to care about football, and failed dismally. It’s not just the Victorian Code, however. It’s pretty much all sports. Hey, it took an immense amount for me to actually admit to enjoying Pilates. I swear that if it were a competitive sport, I’d be outta there in an instant. Physical competition can kiss my demure-but-soon-to-be-incredibly-well-sculpted ass.

It’s an old story, but I am still in the middle of my tax. There’s quite a lot of it to do. And I have no bloody idea whether we’ll be getting returns or bills (hoping desperately, of course, for the latter). I’m sitting in the studio, overlooking Piedimontes supermarket, moodily watching the rain folding forth in bursts, as late-brunchers drowsily drag their dogs and plus-ones down Scotchmer Street. Procrastinating. Possibly why tax is taking so long to get done. I used to love dashing it off, priding myself on excellent organisational systems. Now, it’s kind of old. And then there’s BAS and GST reporting to figure out this year, which, quite frankly, I am somewhat scared of. Scared in the literal sense. As in feeling a significant quotient of fear. Ah, but I am in an embracing-of-massive-challenges-in-lieu-of-sleep mode. Staying up until 1 and 2am (haunting Facebook and) filing receipts into twenty-five separate categories… kind of makes me feel surreptitiously powerful. Even if the power I wield is only over my MYOB First Edge Company File.

On which note, I had better get back to it. Blogging is way up there with Facebook quizzes, SNL on YouTube, and reading every single Tweet in one’s Twitter Feed from the last fortnight with regards to internet-based procrastination. I might feel like I’m getting work done, but none of it involves withholding percentages, so let’s not kid around here.

And just for fun, if you rock up to see Attract/Repel tonight and ask me if I’ve finished my tax yet, I’ll sell you full-salaried peeps a nice, cheap $20 ticket (concession price) affording you a lovely saving of $10 which you can then go on to spend on some nice wine. But only ‘cos it’s grand final day, and I’m trying my darndest to get into the true Melbournian spirit of the thing…

Where we’re at.


I have cancelled tomorrow’s rehearsal. We don’t need it. Not because the show couldn’t be ‘better’ (It could be, it couldn’t be). No, it’s got little to do with spit and polish. On the one hand there is only 50% of a cast available, but that isn’t usually an issue, given that NSC and I are getting really good at standing in, and while it’s not exactly the same, the motions that we’re going through are getting pretty good. On the other hand, we can always tweak bit and pieces here and there, but at this stage, that seems to me to be a slightly futile exercise where time could be much better spent resting, or stitching lace onto costumes.

I am really excited about this piece and it’s strange but it’s hard to define why. My feelings about it kind of defy explanation. I know the work is certainly very different from that which I had originally set out to make almost two years ago. It’s very much a product (‘product’ being such a misleading word) of the performers’ generosity with their souls, and a testament to their strength. It is so much simpler than I ever imagined it would be. And the thing – it breaks my heart. I know it back to front and inside out, and although I always have a fairly strong idea of what topics of conversation flow into others, I am constantly shaken with the immediacy of its delivery – there is always this raw, beautiful surprise in the performers’ connection to their memories and their thoughts and theories that knocks me off my seat. It’s an odd, stumbling grace that is deeply, and uncomfortably affecting.

So, I am really happy with where the show is at the moment, which is odd. I’m usually running around at this stage stressing my head off about which scenes need working more than others, who still hasn’t learned that monologue properly, and how many tickets we haven’t sold.

Right now, I know that we have to begin to add technical elements into the piece quite quickly, and have a limited amount of time in which to do it. I have to tweak some blocking into transitions, and make sure that everyone is safe in whatever very low light they will end up having to negotiate their way around; I need to get a sound designer in the space and a sound design together and programmed in a matter of days, but you know, it’s more than halfway there in my mind.

Yes, I need people to buy tickets. I love it when people do. It’s a great thing, pre-sales. It’s a little bit of love that just keeps on being passed around. That’s my favourite way of thinking about ticket sales, anyway. I encourage everybody to do the same. Start sharing the love, here.

I think we need to run the show a couple of times, but there is time and time and time for that (actually, there are exactly three times where that can happen, so we’re in good shape). And apart from that, I’m champing at the bit, really. Oh, sure there are technical issues to be resolved, the floor needs painting again, I have to buy some thick chalk, and render a bit of video, but in spirit, I’m drinking a pre-show shiraz on opening, right now. I don’t think it’s possible to get over-excited about your own show, and hey – I know I’m going to fall head-first into a reality-check any second now, but I’m happy to revel in this moment of thrilled anticipation for as long as it lasts. I know it isn’t ‘perfect’ (and it ‘never’ will be…), but perfection is deeply subjective, and ‘perfect’ was never what we were after, anyway. On the flip-side, this piece is perfect in whatever form it takes, and from its performance, I couldn’t ask for more.

I think that if I were to see this show as an audience member who knew little to nothing about the work, I would walk away deeply excited and invigorated. Not just due to the content, but artistically the very rough, but quiet delicacy of the work is really something I haven’t seen around for a while, perhaps ever. And that has very little to do with me (my hand, that is) – it’s how the performers have responded to the lighting, have responded to the stimulus topics, have responded to the images I’ve thrown at them. I am working with a very unique group of artists who are helping to make a piece of theatre of which I am already very proud.

Sunday 30th October


Terry Yeboah and Fanny HanusinTerry Yeboah and Jing-Xuan Chan



Most of you will have heard by now that the season of Chesapeake with Alan Brough, directed by Todd Macdonald at The Store Room has had to be postponed due to Alan being extremely unwell. This is quite a blow, and my heart, and certainly the hearts of our company go out to the team of Chesapeake, as it must be a strange kind of miscarriage when you work so hard to bring a work of art to fruition, and then it needs to be suspended before the ultimate moment of exhibition. The final phase in the process is aborted.

Perhaps small consolations under the circumstances, but given the cancellation, the company of  Attract/Repel have been able to begin slowly moving its rehearsals and technical experiments into the space a little earlier. A wonderful thing, process-wise, given that scheduling has dictated that times in which all actors can be in the same space at once are few and very far between. (I am getting tired of co-op, it is so very hard on everyone. Would that I could pay the world to create their work.)

I am going down to the space as soon as I finish writing this, to play for a while on my own in the lights and with the sound. We have reached a point now where I am having to shape over all, and allow the performers to take supreme responsibility for finding moments of connection and context within the work for themselves.

It is hard working without a script. Certainly not impossible, and in some ways, very liberating. But hard nonetheless. There is a certain faith that you have to put in the moment of focus amongst the team – that the work will flow if you give it enough space. That the concentration of energy and perfect combination of differing perspectives will intersect to form that intangible point of magic that is the truth – the pure creative act. That might sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo to some, but I would argue that in order to make work (and believe in the purity of its creation), you have to throw yourself into the darkened fray of a messy, complicated, and yes, at times quite magical process.

The reality of what this work is, is starting to unfold to me now. And it isn’t the spin we’ve been spit-polishing. It isn’t the politics we’re peddling. It isn’t our place in the fierce and terrible competition of the God-knows how many hundred other shows at the Fringe. It isn’t about public profile, glitz, glam, heroism, martyrdom, righteousness, suffering, or salvation. It’s about simple little human moments. Frailty, complicated, unanswerable questions; the acknowledgement of fear; confusion in the face of a thing which should be easily understood. It’s about the difficulty of transitioning from one moment into the next, from one mind-set to another, from a feeling of oppression to a sense of release. It’s about reluctant dualities – converse emotions that exist simultaneously, continuously, relentlessly. It’s very ugly and very beautiful at once. And I think that that’s okay.

Thank you for this, today.


My heart and mind are truly confused to an extent that defies precedent, and at war amongst themselves, about the work that is and that is not being created. About the big “next steps” about the personal, the public, the trivial and perhaps even the profound (though far be it from me to comprehend the beginning of such a dilemma). Largely about theatre, but in some ways in fact, just about progress, administration, bad habits. About my shrinking vocabulary, my loss of desire to read books, my waning passion. I am made most afraid by these. My grasp (and love) of concepts is growing dumb and slow and indifferent. The longer I sit and meditate on this state, the more it encroaches, seeps in until my brain is black. I am taking myself walking now to try to clear the clouds a little so that there is at least a lucid line of thought upon which to begin in there somewhere.

My thanks goes to E. Hunter Spreen upon whose blog, Piefurcation, I today found this, which is exactly what I needed right now:

A man in our society is not left alone. Not in the cities. Not in the woods. We must have commerce with our fellows, and that commerce is difficult and uneasy. I do not understand how to live in this society. I don’t get it. Each person has an enormous effect. Call it environmental impact if you like. Where my foot falls, I leave a mark, whether I want to or not. We are linked together, each to each. You can’t breathe without taking a breath from somebody else. You can’t smile without changing the landscape. And so I ask the question: Why is theatre so ineffectual, unnew, not exciting, fussy, not connected to the thrilling recognition possible in dreams?

It’s a question of spirit. My ungainly spirit thrashes around inside me making me feel lumpy and sick. My spirit is this moment dissatisfied with the outward life I inhabit. Why does my outward life not reflect the enormity of the miracle of existence? Why are my eyes blinded with always new scales, my ears stopped with thick chunks of fresh wax, why are my fingers calloused again? I don’t ask these questions lightly. I beat on the stone door of my tomb. I want out! Some days I wake up in a tomb, some days on a grassy mound by a river. Today, I woke up in a tomb. Why does my spirit sometimes retreat into a deathly closet? Perhaps it is not my spirit leading the way at such times, but my body, longing to lie down in marble gloom, and rot away.

Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done. When it’s not a safe place, it’s abusive to actors and audiences alike. When its safety is used to protect cowards masquerading as heroes, it’s a boring travesty. An actor who is truly heroic reveals the divine that passes through him, that aspect of himself that he does not own and cannot control. The control and the artistry of the heroic actor is in service to his soul.

We live in an era of enormous cynicism. Do not be fooled.

Don’t act for money. You’ll start to feel dead and bitter.

Don’t act for glory. You’ll start to feel dead, fat, and fearful.

We live in an era of enormous cynicism. Do not be fooled.

You can’t avoid all the pitfalls. There are lies you must tell. But experience the lie. See it as something dead and unconnected you clutch. And let it go.

Act from the depth of your feeling imagination. Act for celebration, for search, for grieving, for worship, to express that desolate sensation of wandering through the howling wilderness.

Don’t worry about Art.

Do these things, and it will be Art.

John Patrick Shanley, preface to the The Big Funk

(meet at the rally)


vca-logo2There is an absolute imperative driving me to post here about what is taking place with the VCA. In the unlikely case that you are unaware, extreme changes are under way at the nation’s unique, premier, multi-discipline arts training institution. As the University of Melbourne introduces the “Melbourne Model” so will the incredibly high standards of creative training fall, that have been nurturing and sustaining the creative industries in this city now for decades. This Friday commencing at 10am on the VCA campus (St. Kilda Road, Southbank) a rally will be taking place to protest these destructive changes. I urge every member and supporter of the arts community who is able to be in Melbourne city at this time to join in the protest.

The creative team – and I mean, the ENTIRE immediate creative team (designers, performers, director, dramaturg) of Attract/Repel are all VCA alumni. Every (extraordinary) one of us. I couldn’t be blessed with a more rigorous, talented, intelligent, professional and thoroughly skilled team of collaborators. This is no coincidence. And it isn’t as if we woke up one morning and set out to recruit a bunch of VCA grads; we set out to find the best bloody artists for the work. The pedigree offered by the College is second to none, and (as Lindy Davies had hoped and worked so hard for while she was head of Acting and The School of Drama), VCA graduates are ingenious, autonomous, sought after artists. In the same building, and right next door to us, The (brilliant and prolific) Hayloft Project are variously rehearsing their next two works (opening imminently in both Melbourne and Sydney), with the vast majority of their numbers hailing also from the Victorian College of the Arts School of Drama. Incredible, isn’t it, that you really can’t turn your head in this town without meeting another alumnus? The graduates of the VCA are at the forefront of their craft, and this is a fact due to the extraordinary rigour, passion and specialised training instilled at the various and distinct schools: Dance, Drama, Film and Television, Music, Production, Visual Art; and more recently in the specialist courses of Puppetry and Music Theatre.

The destruction of the above model has already begun. Below, I have pasted information on some of these changes from the flyer for this Friday’s rally. Once again, I urge everyone who can make themselves available to come down to the VCA at 10am and join this most crucial protest. This is really the only opportunity this extraordinary community is going to have to show its united opposition to these changes that will suck the vitality and inspiration from the Melbourne creative landscape as a whole.


  • So far the 6 specialised schools at the VCA have been merged into 3.
  • Practical training in all courses will be reduced by up to 50% by 2011.
  • Contact hours will be significantly reduced as of next year. Semester duration will be reduced, meaning tuition will drop from 32 to 24 weeks per year.
  • 25% of study will be made up of “breadth subjects” – subjects from non-VCA faculties of The University of Melbourne.
  • Puppetry and Musical Theatre courses have been suspended.


  • Many staff have been sacked already or had contracts significantly reduced.
  • There will be minimal or no sessional staff (professional artist tutors) as of 2010.
  • Staff have been instructed to stay away from the media, to pacify students and to keep quiet about impending redundancies. Many staff risk losing their jobs if they speak out against the University’s proposed changes.



  • A massive week of student and public protest begins on the 16th of August and will culminate with a protest rally and march to Parliament on Friday the 21st. See overleaf for details.


  • Visit our website at Join the mailing list, sign the petition and use our template to send a letter off to the government.
  • Become a fan of “save vca” on Facebook and receive regular updates. Invite all your friends to the protest online.

“Please let’s not allow our future artists’ potential to be diminished. Let their work be practical, challenging and profound, not chiefly academic. And don’t allow their creative education to start from a point of compromise and mediocrity.”

Geoffrey Rush, August 7th, 2009.


Friday 21st of August,10am.


VCA Campus at 10am.

234 St Kilda Rd, Southbank

Featuring live performances and speeches from prominent industry figures, featuring Julia Zemiro (Rockwiz).


Show your support and march with students down Swanston St, along Collins St to Parliament. Final speeches, featuring John Micheal Howson (Shout).

Save VCA


savevca (go, noni)