Mapping the terrain
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
Taylor & Francis
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Reflecting on what he saw as the paltry local offerings in the 1969 Australian theatre season for The Bulletin magazine, theatre critic and avant-garde director Rex Cramphorn wrote that to develop a more vital, serious theatre ‘from Australian bedrock would require an eclectic training scheme as a basis for arduous research and experiment, resulting in an original stylistic communication of an unforeseeable nature, but relevant to its Australian environment’ (1970, 30). Cramphorn bemoans that ‘even the most elementary step towards raising standards – the raising of practical theatre training to academic respectability, or, conversely, putting study of dramatic literature in a practical theatrical context’ (1970, 29–30) is not being seriously attempted. Two visiting American theatre trainers who appear otherwise to be enamoured of Australia’s ‘sunshine, space, Adamic mythos’, exposed to that same season and some of the next during their sojourns down under, later reflected in an article titled ‘Actor Training in Australia’ that ‘imported tradition, as in so much of Australia’s culture, still has a firm hold on theatre and its training methods. Perhaps a more vital promise comes from native roots’ (Addison and Harrop 1971, 178, 184). They praise one recently-founded example of an independent company drawing on these native roots as ‘international in awareness, but nationalistic in its artistic concerns’ (Addison and Harrop 1971, 185).