Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Lindy Davies: A Path to a Process

Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Lindy Davies: A Path to a Process

Article excerpt

Lindy Davies was a foundation member of the Australian Performing Group at the Pram Factory and contributed to the renaissance of Australian theatre in the 1970s. During the 1980s she worked as an actress and director at Playbox, State Theatre Company of South Australia and Belvoir Street Theatre and won an Australian Film Institute award for her performance in the film Malcolm.

During the past decade, Lindy has worked as an actor, trainer, performance consultant and director, winning award nominations for directing and performing. She has worked extensively in film as a performance consultant. Her work includes Dennis Potter's Karaoke, Kenneth Branagh 's production of Hamlet, Sally Potter 's The Tango Lesson and Alan Rudolph's Afterglow, for which Julie Christie received a 1998 Academy Award nomination. She directed the acclaimed West End production of Old Times with Julie Christie in 1995. In 1996 at the Chichester Festival she directed the highly successful Hedda Gabler, which starred Harriet Walter, and in 1997 directed Marguerite Duras' Suzannah Andler, again featuring Julie Christie. In 2000 she directed A Month in the Country for the Sydney Theatre Company (STC), as well as the highly acclaimed Three Days of Rain in 2001. In 2002 she directed As You Like It for the Bell Shakespeare Company and in 2005 Old Times for the STC. In 1993 Lindy received a Sidney Myer Performing Arts Special Citation for her contribution to the performing arts in Australia. She was a recipient of the Monash Distinguished Alumni Award for Inspirational Leadership and a Significant Contribution to the Theory and Practice of Drama. She is presently a member of the Sydney Theatre Company Peer Group.

Until the end of 2006, she was Head of Drama at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) for eleven years. During this time, she instigated a new integrated course for the training of autonomous actors, designers, theatremakers, animateurs, writers and directors. She is currently preparing a book on her approach to performance.

In Part 1 of this two-part interview (Part 2 will be published in April 2008), Lindy Davies talks to Laura Ginters about how she came to work in theatre, and the various practices she has embraced which have informed her evolving approach to making theatre.

I began by asking Lindy how and why she came to work in theatre.

Through politics. The Vietnam War. I was at Monash University. I was majoring in English, as were a group of us: Jon Hawkes, John Romeril, Richard Murphett, myself and a man called Linzee Smith,1 who's been quite a formative influence on Australian theatre even though he spent most of his life in New York. We were involved in the Monash Players, doing what you normally do if you're involved in English, being passionate about our work, and then our lives changed with the Vietnam War.

In 1968 we had an Intervarsity Festival, and at that festival Rex Cramphorn, Jim Sharman and Aarne Neeme came to Monash - and during the festival the vice-squad arrived at a performance because they'd heard that there were swear words being used in a piece performed by a company called Tribe, a company based in Queensland led by a theatre visionary at that time, Doug Anders. He'd made a piece of work that had an excerpt from JeanClaude Van Itallie's play. Motel. This is a famous piece in which puppets people wearing puppet heads - write graffiti and swear words all over the walls whilst totally destroying the motel room. It was from Van Itallie's trilogy America Hurrah and Anders made a piece of work using this as one of many elements. The central motif was a large projection of a soccer game all in close-up and while this was playing there was a naked group-grope enacted on stage.2 The time and the context were such that it soon became quite clear that we were living in an authoritarian construct and we began protesting against the Vietnam War and became heavily involved in demonstrations where many of us were beaten up. …

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