Theatre and film in an outstanding career

By Nick Carne

It’s a testament to Rosemary Myers’ ability, versatility and vision that’s she’s been honoured for her contribution to theatre just as she’s making her name in film.

The respected Artistic Director of Adelaide’s equally respected Windmill Theatre has just received the 2017 Australia Council Theatre Award, which recognises a history of outstanding achievements.

In Rosemary’s case those achievements include taking children’s theatre from Adelaide to Hong Kong and Broadway, and winning awards and accolades for creating inspiring and often provocative theatre that talks directly to young, contemporary audiences.

Her acclaimed shows include Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio and Grug and the Rainbow, which starts a North American tour in the Kennedy Center in Washington DC this weekend.

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Rosemary working on the Girl Asleep film.

But all the talk at the moment is about Girl Asleep, Rosemary’s first feature film, which won her a Best Director nomination at last year’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards – one of seven in all for the movie.

A screen adaptation of the Windmill production, Girl Asleep has also won The Age Critics’ Award, the Seattle Film Festival Jury Award and Australia’s richest film prize, the CinefestOz Award. Most recently it was acknowledged for Best Work and for Arts Innovation and Enterprise at the 2016 Ruby Awards.

Rosemary says she feels “enormously proud and humbled” by the Australia Council award, “especially when I think about the breadth of amazing theatre artists across the country. Because the award recognises sustained contribution, it prompts so many memories so I am experiencing some happy nostalgia.”

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She has been at the helm of Windmill since 2008 when she moved to Adelaide from Queensland. Since then she and her small but dedicated team have helped redefine what we expect of youth and family theatre.

In 2012 Windmill became the first youth theatre company to win the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award for Excellence, and last year it collaborated with State Theatre to produce and present a unique version of the Rumpelstiltskin story that was a part of the mainstream State Theatre season.

“People ask us a lot how we create work for young audiences and I think the thing is that we don’t try to second guess our audience at any point; we only make work that we think is great art and we want to watch ourselves,” Rosemary said.