1963 when it all began

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.

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.

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.