Lindzee Smith: 22.9.1940 – 24.2.2007
Lindzee Smith, aged 66 and one of the founding members of the Australian Performing Group (APG) died last Saturday after battling a long illness.
Following an operation conducted ten days earlier, the actor-director and dedicated avant gardist of the theatre died of a post-operative infection. Lindzee had been living with Lupus blood disease which had resulted in a highly compromised immune system and an above the knee amputation.
First treading the boards in a 1966 production of CRIMES AND CRIMES, Lindzee bore the tag 'Ironman' (having once won a Bellarine Peninsula Mr Geelong style endurance event). The Strindberg play featured other giants in the theatre – the co-star was Lindy Davies and it was directed by Richard Murphet, who has since proved critical to the life of the VCA Drama School.
In those days, the emergence of La Mama was all the go and Lindzee, along with Max Gillies, Peter Cummins, Bruce Spence, Sue Ingleton, Peter Corrigan, Evelyn Krape, Jane Clifton and many others were soon to board that underground flagship, the Pram Factory.
If the company you keep is a measure of your worth, Smith as an actor-director had the knack of befriending notables. Primarily based in New York through the 80s and 90s, he wined, dined and spawned projects with James Purdy, the aging Tennessee Williams and Gregory Corso. The likes of Sam Shephard and Jim Jarmush were great fans of Lindzee.
In the Melbourne of the 60s and 70s Lindzee worked with Australian writers such as Alex Buzo (“Norm and Ahmed”), Jack Hibberd (“Who” and “White With Wire Wheels”), John Romeril (“Chicago Chicago”, “The Golden Holden”, “The Floating World”), Daniel Keene (“The Fighter”, Isle of Swans”, “The Hour Before My Father Dies”) and Barry Dickins.
Under the name of Nightshift (with Lindzee in the director's chair and often with Phil Motherwell writing), he produced many works including Motherwell’s “The Fitzroy Yank” and “Dreamers of the Absolute”. Nightshift began as an ensemble within the Pram Factory and went on to make its mark in Sydney, Perth, New York and Bergamo.
A dedicated internationalist wherever he lived, Smith revisited his past productions, continuing to net royalties for such playwrights as Orton, Brenton, Hare, Mueller, Fassbinder, Handke, Kroetz, Arrabal, Maria Irene Fornes. Nor did the classic repertoire escape his attentions with productions of works by Brecht, Ibsen, O’Neill and Sophocles.