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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: English
Year: 9-10
Theme: Gender & Work

Key Concepts

Power; Cultural influence; Collective; Feminism

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Everyday texts – Language: Contextual understanding
NSW:(1997 Syllabus) C5 Mass media
(2003 Syllabus) Stage 5 Outcome 4
NT:R/V 5.1 – 5.3
R/V 5+.1-5+.3
Qld:Cr 6.2
SA:Texts and contexts 5.3
Tas:Texts and contexts 5.3
Vic:Reading – Texts 6.6
WA:Understanding Language
Attitudes, values and beliefs

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. Describe a short fictional situation which draws on your observations of your own mixed gender group, or another group known to you. Write about who has power in that group. See if you can demonstrate why they have it. Is gender a relevant factor?
  2. In small groups write a short dramatic scene about an issue you care strongly about. It is to be performed in the streets. Share with the class what your scene was about and the ways you would like to present it. It needs to be larger than life.

Modules That Use This Clip

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