Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Introduction to Lindzee

LINDZEE SMITH
22.9.1940 – 24.2.2007

Welcome to the website that celebrates Lindzee Smith’s life and work and that is the home of the Foundation we have established to honour his memory by supporting initiatives that continue his explorations.
For forty years, El Smythe delved into every shadowy corner of contemporary theatre. A true theatre obsessive, his interests ranged across all facets of dramatic expression, always focusing on finding effective ways of presenting words as actions meaningful in today’s world.
From his first productions with Contact Theatre in the mid to late sixties, through his work with the APG and the Pram Factory in the seventies, to the remarkable output of Nightshift Theatre Asylum over the last thirty years, Lindzee has constantly confronted, shocked and enthralled actors, audiences and critics.
His was not a career that produced mainstream accolades and awards. His sensibility was too fractious and counter-cultural to allow him the comfort of relaxation in the company of the mandarins. Nevertheless, when opportunities appeared - which were not often - he displayed profound talent as an academic and teacher.
But practice was his one true love. To the very end, there were always half a dozen projects swirling around his mind.
He was a director who found his vision through working collaboratively: he had the ability to recognise and make manifest extraordinary capacities in everyone he worked with. This was perhaps his greatest attribute – he encouraged, indeed expected as a matter of course, that those he worked with would find unique solutions to the problems he put before them. His success was that, every time, they delivered.
But the wolf was always at the door, both literally and metaphorically: societies tend to discard their enfant terribles as they age – unless, of course, they settle down, which Lindzee was utterly unable to do. And then there was that other wolf – lupus, an incurable condition that debilitates the immune system and is only manageable with steroids whose long term effects are as vile as the disease itself.
Eventually, Lindzee succumbed to these, but he put up a fight that verged on the miraculous. Only someone of immense will and indefatigable optimism could have survived the trials he was put through. And Lindzee did more than survive. Yes, he had his moments of despair and panic, but even in those last days, he was always ready for another round.
And what of his legacy? Lindzee took the new Australian theatre to the world. In the maelstrom of internationalism that was theatre in the last half of the twentieth century, Lindzee navigated a unique path, mixing it with the pantheon, looking for adventure wherever he went and purloining anything he thought might be useful, but always offering a confident and unapologetic perspective rooted in the soil of his upbringing.
It’s a largely unrecognised legacy, but it permeates much of contemporary theatre, both at home and abroad. The ways of theatre-making that he pioneered have flowered profusely. Perhaps this site will contribute to the recognition of his contribution but more important, may it help to ensure that the attitude he brought to his work continues into new generations.
Jon Hawkes
26/2/07

1 comment:

shuvus said...

Its shuvus..I was at the funeral yesterday of our Lindzee. What a gift he was to all of us. He made me believe I could be what I wanted to be. He made me believe i could be an actor (not a very good one as it turned out in time). But he did the same for so many of our national treasures. Romeril, Hibberd, Williamson, Motherwell. I met Lindzee in the early seventies. My aspirations were way ahead of my abilities. One of my first memories .Everyone was in the tower reading "floating World" for the first time. It was this wonderful talent ripping open this new script. Kerry Dwyer, Carol Porter, Wilfred Last, Tim robertson, Rob Meldrum, Jane Clifton. It was fresh and raw. Tim was larger than life. Powerful , alarming. I was seduced. And there at the centre of it all was Lindzee letting you know you were capable of it.Dragging it out of us all. Not scared to tell you when its crap and not working, courageous. Lets not mince words here...atcha!
Also our scout , the one to go out there into the world and drag back an armload of new scripts. Everyone just ate it up.
My next memory is ACDC by Heathcote Williams with Phil Motherwell and Carol Porter, magic on a stick. The laconic madness of Perowne by Phil with Carol Porter as Sadie, red hair, blue eyes blazing, it was to behold. special.
The loft at 303b Smith Street. Betsy and Linz in one loft. Khorshed and Phil in the other. I remember inspecting it with Linz. It had a fake fur company, and it was a shemozzle . For only about 6 months until he had "Saliva Milkshake" and "Ruffian on the Stair" playing in what really was the Kitchen".
He honored the gift that was given to him .What a life ...It aint about the years, but how much you can squeaze into them. Overflowing would come to mind.
A giant among us on both counts , I loved his bigness it filled the room. Spikey hair or whatever was fashionable at the time. He was no daggy looking director. Out there.

Once the Pram Factory closed , and linz disappeared off to New York with less of a reason to come back, There was no longer that net that Drummond street provided. We really lost him for a few critical years in the early eighties to New York . Carol stopped acting . What a shocking loss to us all. I know she is fine artist now , but boy. More fools us.1980s It dried up in a sea of standup comedy,a "my story" rather than an "our story" that a playwright and an interpretation provides.
I lost interest, I took drugs, I stole from my friends and family , I beacame a moral-free zone. I went to New York and lived with Lindzee in 1982. Fantastic scripts by Purdy. Wonderful talent like Tim Burns, Betty Gordon, Steve Wilkinson. I blew it in a haze of chemicals. It was over.
I lost all self belief, that I could act and I stopped.
So in the scheme of things I was only around for a short part of Lindzees life from 1974 till 1982. But they have been critical to who I am today. I was 23 when I met him. What I am trying to say to those of you out there reading this is ponder the contribution he made to your life.
Thank you Lindzee , from the bottom of my Heart. Shuvus