Simon Stokes, Melaine Hickson, Toni Collette and Thomasin Litchfield in ATYP’s All Stops Out, 1989. Photo: Robert McFarlane ©
The Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) came to life after a series of meetings, beginning in 1963, at the behest of playwright, Eleanor Witcombe, with theatre artists, playwrights and educators, who decided to establish a company to produce professional, high-quality theatre for young people. A committee was formally constituted in early 1964, with members, Alastair Duncan (Chairman), Diana Sharpe (Secretary), Nigel Lovell (Treasurer) and Ellis Irving, Owen Weingott and Wendy Blacklock. The name of the new company was the subject of many meetings, and a decision was made to use ATYP as an interim measure. The name remains the same after all these years, and still best reflects the ethos of the company.
John Gaden and John Norman in ATYP’s Hoddel’s Remarkable Handcart, 1971. Photo: © ATYP
The company's very first production was a comedy: She Stoops to Conquer – Goldsmith Examined, by Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith, adapted and directed by Owen Weingott. It opened on the 1st of August, 1964, touring schools in metropolitan Sydney, with a cast that included Owen Weingott, Barry Creyton and Reginald Livermore.
ATYP's first major production, a commission, Hullabaloo Belay! The Whitby Adventure by Barbara Vernon, was about James Cook before his voyage to Australia. Directed by Nigel Lovell, it cost 1,500 Pounds Stirling to mount. Opening on the 26th of December, 1964 at the St James Playhouse, it then toured to Orange, Dubbo, Warren, Cobar, from 26 Feb, 1965.
Costume design for Hullabaloo Belay! The Whitby Adventure, 1964. Photo: © ATYP
In ATYP's formative years, productions were performed by adults for young people. Their young audience would not be involved in the company until 1967, when a workshop programme was established for young participants between 10-15 years old, in response to demand.
The Artistic Directors of ATYP throughout the years:
1964 Nigel Lovell (Producer)
1965 Alistair Duncan (Producer)
1973 Raymond Omodei
1976 John Wregg
1981 Jane Westbrook
1984 Simon Hopkinson (Acting)
1984 Colette Rayment
1987 Rowan Greaves
1988 Mark Gaal
1991 Glen McGillivray
1992 Antoinette Blaxland
1995 Penelope Wells (Acting, while Antoinette Blaxland on maternity leave)
1996 Antoinette Blaxland
1996 Neill Gladwin
1998 Antoinette Blaxland (Acting till appointment of new AD)
1999 David Berthold
2003 Timothy Jones
2009 Fraser Corfield
Bronwyn Morgan and Nicole Kidman in ATYP’s Spring Awakening, 1984. Photo: Geoffrey Boccalatte ©
Huey Acuna and Toni Collette in ATYP’s Burger Brain – the Fast Food Musical, 1988. Photo: © ATYP
Adam Cook and Lisa Hensley in ATYP’s Multiple Choice, 1985. Photo: Kylie Brennan ©
Felix Williamson in rehearsals for ATYP’s Australia-Go-Round, 1983. Photo: © ATYP
ATYP has called many places 'home' over the years:
Randwick Literary Institute
National Trust, Annie Wyatt Room, Watson Rd, Observatory Hill
1965 Lindfield (Diana Sharpe’s home)
1969 Parade Theatre, Anzac Parade, Kensington, June, 1969- (supported by Robin Lovejoy, AD, The Old Tote Theatre Company)
1969 NIDA Huts, UNSW Campus, Kensington
1972 Bailey Hall, Chatswood, 1972 summer holidays
1975 3rd floor, 48 O’Riordan Street, Alexandria, 1975-76 (Old Tote rehearsal studios?)
1975 NIDA Studios, UNSW Campus, Kensington
1979 Glebe, 7 Burton Street, Glebe
1979 (Jane Westbrook’s office at UNSW, where she tutored drama.), UNSW Campus, Kensington
1979, 1980 NIDA Studios, UNSW Campus, Kensington
1980 Cell Block Theatre, Darlinghurst
1980 Santa Sabina College, Strathfield
1980 NIDA studios, High St, Kensington, Jan (for Summertime Youth Theatre)
1981 NSW Institute of Technology, Broadway
1982 Esme` Hackett (Sucks - sic) Memorial Hall, 88 William Henry Street, Ultimo, Feb, 1982 (agreement
with Toetruck Theatre)
1984 Myrtle Street, 3rd Floor, 82 Myrtle Street, Chippendale
1985 (Old Sailors’ Home), The Rocks Theatre, 106 George Street, The Rocks
1987 200 Cumberland Street, 200 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
1991 (Police Station) 132 George Street, The Rocks
1993 Argyle Centre, Argyle Street, The Rocks
1996 ATYP Studio 1,2, Pier 4/5, The Wharf, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
ATYP at 200 Cumberland St, The Rocks, 1987-1991.
ATYP at 132 George St, Sydney, 1991-1993.
Our current home at Pier 4/5 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay. 1996-present.