This is an NFSA Digital Learning resource. See all Digital Learning websites.

Please read the conditions of usage in the Copyright Policy.

Buying this Video Clip:
You can buy a DVD containing all the Video Clips shown on this site.

You can also buy the original program this Video Clip appeared in.

About the Video Clip:

Video Clip Synopsis:
Actors talk about the Pram Factory collective and its processes. At communal meetings it helped to be tall, articulate and male.

1min 43sec

An Alternative Actors Collective is an excerpt from the film Pram Factory (55 mins), produced in 1994.

Pram Factory: In the early 1970s Melbourne was home to the Australian Performing Group, a theatre collective which quickly became a focal point for the intellectual, artistic and political life of the turbulent times. They were based in a building called the Pram Factory, now synonymous with the people and events that laid the groundwork for a renaissance in Australian culture.

Pram Factory is a Film Australia National Interest Program. Developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: The Arts
Year: 11-12
Strand: Drama
Theme: Gender & Work

Key Concepts

Power; Cultural influence; Collective; Feminism

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Drama: Creating; Contexts/Critical analysis
NSW:Drama Stage 6: Theatrical traditions and performance styles
NT:Drama Stages 1 and 2: Arts practice; Arts analysis
Qld:Drama: 4.2.2 Australian Drama
SA:Drama Stages 1 and 2: Arts practice; Arts analysis
Tas:Drama Stage 5: Past and present contexts; Art criticism and aesthetics
Vic:Drama Unit 1: Character development
WA:Drama Year 11: Outcomes 1, 2, 6, 7

Context / Background Information

The Australian Performing Group was a democratic theatrical collective operating out of a former pram factory.

Its prodigious output of original work, produced amid the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll of Carlton and Melbourne University in the 1970s, revived and inspired Australian theatre.

The collective created a theatre in opposition to the script-based, director-dominated conservative norm. It was up-close, non-naturalistic and centred on the presence and skill of the performer. The shows were raw, rough, politcial, experimental, comical, and musical.

Much has been written about the contribution of the playwrights (Jack Hibberd, John Romeril, Barrie Oakley, David Williamson) to this cultural effusion. Less has been remembered about the performers. Max Gillies, Jane Clifton, Greig Pickhaver (H. G. Nelson), Evelyn Krape, Jack Charles, Sue Ingleton, Peter Cummins, Red Symons, John Duigan, Graeme Blundell, Bruce Spence and Jenny Kemp were among the many influential actors, musicians and directors who developed their talents at the Pram Factory.

The Pram Factory closed in 1980, having been a significant part of a rejuvenation of theatre in Australia. Many of its original members are leading theatre film and TV practitioners today.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. The video clip describes the organisation as a ‘co-operative’. What is a co-operative?
  3. One of the interviewees provides a feminist interpretation of power as male-dominated. Why does she believe that power was in the hands of males?
  4. Another interviewee associates power with being articulate, male, and tall. What other characteristics might help people have power?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. La Mama is another Melbourne playhouse that offers alternative theatrical experiences. It provides opportunities for playwrights, directors, actors and small audiences. Find out how La Mama was formed, and who holds the power — that is, who decides which plays are performed, and how they are produced. Compare this to the Pram Factory image and experience.
  2. Imagine that you are at a meeting of the Pram Factory collective. The discussion is over what play to perform, and how it will be presented. Class members are to be allocated a particular role (e.g. tall male, short female, short male, tall female, etc.) and play out that role in the meeting.
  3. Work in groups and write a short piece which involves your thoughts and concerns about an issue you are collectively angry about.
  4. Experiment with different ways you could perform this piece as if you too are members of the Pram Factory collective. Remember this is alternative theatre. Dare to be different.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, The Arts Year 11-12