Australian Studies, Vol 4 (2012)

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In Conversation with Geoffrey Rush

Emma Cox

Abstract


The following are excerpts from a conversation with Geoffrey Rush that took place over the 23rd and 24th of July 2011 at his Melbourne home. Most of our discussion focused on Rush’s experience performing, directing and adapting Shakespeare, and traversed the less well-documented early days of his stage career, from his involvement with Bryan Nason’s College Players at the University of Queensland in the late 1960s and later repertory apprenticeship with the Queensland Theatre Company in the early 1970s, to his involvement over subsequent years with leading theatre companies in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. If Rush’s training with the famed Jacques Lecoq in Paris in the mid-1970s equipped him professionally in physical theatre and clowning, in the precise calibration of movement, voice and timing that makes farce soar, it’s his indelible childhood memories of travelling pantomime shows in 1950s regional Queensland that sowed an imaginative seed that has flourished since. Rush’s recollections offer insight not only into his own career in the theatre, a winding trajectory of influences, collaborations and serendipities, but also to those of some of his fellow travellers, including his long-time friend and colleague, the late Bille Brown.1 The backstory of what follows, then, is the emergence of an Australian stage vocabulary, grammar and accent for performances of Shakespeare and of Australian plays.

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