The Playbox Collection: a new online compilation of local theatre texts and history
AustralianPlays.org has just launched the Playbox Collection, an online treasure trove of scripts, interviews and images from the original Playbox Theatre. This is Australian Play’s most complex project to date, and has taken over two years to complete.
Playbox, for most of its time, had a policy of only presenting Australian premieres, and helped shaped the careers of significant local playwrights like Hannie Rayson, Andrew Bovell, Micheal Gurr, Joanna Murray-Smith, and Jenny Kemp.
The team has worked with the Performing Arts Collection at the Victorian Arts Centre, and spent countless hours poring through archive boxes, to put together this collection. And, it includes more than 120 scripts, as well as new interviews with former Playbox Artistic Director, Carrillo Gantner and General Manager, Jill Smith.
The collection focuses on the Playbox All Australian period, beginning in 1990, when the company moved to the Malthouse.
AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager Tom Healey said “The policy of the new Playbox was that it would produce not only almost exclusively Australian work but also that these works would almost all be world premieres. It was a heady vision. And for fifteen years, that is what it did.
“The ongoing development work Playbox undertook with readings, commissions and workshops was staggering. It was an amazing time and it left us with a staggering collection of texts.
“The writers’ works remain as evocative capsules of the world in which they were written. They record what we cared about, what we were passionate about, what was obsessing us. As such, they are objects of enormous cultural value.
“The Playbox texts are the legacy of a brave and passionate cultural experiment: an experiment that created a generation of artists. At AustralianPlays.org we are so proud to be able to collect and preserve them, and to know that they remain visible and available to be read and performed by future generations of Australian theatre makers.” Tom Healey said.
The launch took place in the original home of the Playbox Theatre, Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre, as part of the 2016 National Play Festival.
AustralianPlays.org were supported and assisted in this project by the playwrights and their estates and agents, as well as Currency Press, the Performing Arts Collection at the Victorian Arts Centre, Jeff Busby, the current staff of Playbox’s successor, Malthouse Theatre, and the staff of Playbox, particularly General Manager, Jill Smith, and its two Artistic Directors Carrillo Gantner and Aubrey Mellor.
AustralianPlays.org is assisted by the Australia Council, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body, Arts Tasmania and Arts NSW.