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Playwright David Williamson to present 2012 NTEU Lecture

Posted 19 October 2012 by Carmel Shute (NTEU National Office)

6pm, Thursday 15 November. Lecture: 7-8.15pm.

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Medicine Lecture Theatre, School of Medicine, 38 Henry Street, Fremantle

David Williamson, Australia’s foremost playwright, will present the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Lecture at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle on Thursday 15 November.

The annual NTEU Lecture offers a public forum for an eminent Australian to present unique perspectives on aspects of higher education and its impact on the economic, social and cultural frameworks of Australian society. The inaugural lecture was presented last year by Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist. The event is free and open to members of the public.

Williamson’s lecture, “Living dangerously: The future of creative arts education in Australian universities”, will reflect on his own career, traverse what is happening to the creative arts within higher education in Australia and argue the case for greater funding and institutional support.

Williamson, the creator of more than 40 plays, studied Mechanical Engineering which led a lectureship in engineering at Swinburne Institute (now University) of Technology in Melbourne.

“But my creative desires were more suited to writing plays than assessing stress points in metal scaffolding. In the creative ferment of the late sixties and early seventies, I managed to move into writing as a way of making a living,” he said.

 “Throughout my career, however, most of the highly talented Australians I have had the privilege of working with have found their path into theatre through tertiary education at TAFE or university. These are the people that given life to my words and form to my scaffolding... actors, directors, choreographers, lighting specialists, camera operators, and editors.

“It takes a large, well-coordinated and well-trained group of professionals to give real life to an idea. Whether it be a play or movie, Australia is blessed with some of the world’s best in their respected fields and their collaborative efforts have not only given pleasure to millions of people, they have helped me develop the reputation I have been lucky enough to develop over the years.”


Williamson said that these people didn’t come to their roles by accident.

“They had the benefit of an education that helped them become the true professionals they are today. People like Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman are all well known Australians who started their careers in a university or institute that specialised in high quality education. Many of Australia’s creative arts programs are suffering death by a thousand cuts,” he said.

“If you want engineers to build roads, if you want architects to design buildings, if you want research into cancer cures, if you want actors to act, playwrights to write, directors to direct, painters to paint, sculptures to sculpt, musicians to muse, then the budgets and support our universities and institutions such as NIDA, the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, must be appropriate and on-going.”

On Wednesday 14 November, the night before the 2nd NTEU Lecture, Williamson will open his latest play, Managing Carmen, at Perth’s State Theatre Company. It premiered in Brisbane at the Queensland State Theatre last night (18 October) where it received a standing ovation.

 The NTEU Lecture is being recorded by RN for broadcast on its program, “Big Ideas”.

 The NTEU Lecture is free and open to the public but space is limited. Reservations essential:: by Monday 12 November.

 Further event information: Michael Evans, National Organiser, National Tertiary Education Union (03) 9254 1910

 Media enquiries: Carmel Shute, NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356


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