Vale: Lindzee Smith ~ theatre notes

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Vale: Lindzee Smith

Sad news of the death last weekend of director/actor Lindzee Smith, a major force in Australian theatre over four decades of work. As a member of the Pram Factory and, later, as the founder of Nightshift and other companies both here and overseas, Smith was a collaborator with and inspiration for many of the major names in Australian theatre, premiering many classic works of the Australian stage. John Romeril's tribute, which is up on Lindzee's blog, maps the scope of his achievements:

If the company you keep is a measure of your worth, Smith as an actor-director had the knack of befriending notables. Based in 1990s New York he wined dined and spawned projects with James Purdy, the aging Tennessee Williams, Gregory Corso. The likes of Sam Shephard had been, and Jimmy Jarmush was, a fan.

In 60s and 70s Melbourne the Australian writers Smith championed included Alex Buzo (NORM AND AHMED); Jack Hibberd (WHO and WHITE WITH WIRE WHEELS); John Romeril (CHICAGO CHICAGO, THE GOLDEN HOLDEN, THE FLOATING WORLD); Daniel Keene (THE FIGHTER, ISLE OF SWANS, THE HOUR BEFORE MY BROTHER DIES).

With Lindzee in the director's chair and Phil Motherwell on words (THE FITZROY YANK, DREAMERS OF THE ABSOLUTE), Nightshift emerged as an ensemble within, then going on to outlive the Pram Factory. It also made its mark in Sydney, Perth and New York, only bowing out (SMACK HAPPY) in 2004.

A dedicated internationalist, wherever he lived, Smith revisited his past productions, continuing to net royalties for such scribes as Orton, Brenton, Hare, Mueller, Fassbinder, Handke, Kroetz, Arrabal, Maria Irene Fornes. Nor did the classic repertoire escape his attentions. Brecht, Ibsen, Eugene O'Neill, Sophocles, the CV is testament to a savvy director constantly at work.

His funeral will be held tomorrow (Friday) at 1pm, at St Paul's Anglican Church, LaTrobe Terrace, Geelong.

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