In 2022, Theatre Heritage Australia will begin a new Oral History program, with the focus on Australian performing arts practitioners.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
Theatre Heritage Australia builds its Oral History repository with a view to creating a specialist resource for performing arts researchers, including theatre historians, arts journalists, educators and students. The interviews unfold in the form of interactive exchange between the interviewer and the artist/theatre maker with the purpose of sourcing information and expanding knowledge.
While pursuing the common objective of Oral History to preserve the records of personal, lived experience – in this case that of performing arts practitioners – THA seeks to avoid putting the emphasis on biography alone. Rather, the main thrust of the interview is on artistic achievements and the uniqueness of the ideas, concepts and artistic means used in the work. The rationale for this is drawn from the principles of art practice: it is the ideas/concepts and their realization in performance that win an artist critical acclaim and, ultimately, a place in history. Biographical detail is outlined as an integral part of the artist’s journey or as a tool for grasping their work and is not the sole focus of interview.
Consequently, the interviews conducted under the banner of THA are neither evaluative nor confrontational. They uncover the fields of artist’s interest and the driving forces behind personal search for an idiosyncratic form of artistic expression, creating a broad platform for future critical inquiry.
Comprised of diverse profiles of performing artists of merit, the THA Oral History repository thus sheds light on the trajectories of and influences on artists’ lives and careers, their creative collaborations and achievements. It is as much a research resource as a biographical dictionary in oral mode.