Some Canberra Theatre Centre season ticket holders will be aware that it was the Canberra Theatre Centre that pointed the way to a significant addition to my career path.

I was performing my salute to French Cabaret of the late nineteenth century Le Chat Noir, on the stage of the Canberra Theatre, as part of the 1992 Australian Theatre Festival when David Gration invited me to direct the festival. It was the last thing on my mind, but I accepted, and for the last twenty years directing festivals has been up there with singing and writing: Brecht described as “how I made use of the time on earth allotted me”. Now I‘m working hand-in-hand with the Canberra Theatre Centre again on the project that comes exactly twenty years after the 1993 National Festival of Australian Theatre. Of course I’m talking about The Centenary of Canberra in 2013.

From the moment I took on the role of Creative Director of the Centenary, I started to talk to Bruce Carmichael about an ambitious program at CTC in the Centenary year. When a new capital for a newly federated Australia was first conceived, the states were very much involved.

While Canberra is still the most significant meeting place for states’ representatives in Federal Parliament and on other matters of national significance, national cultural representation has been increasingly limited to the national collecting institutions. During the Centenary of Canberra, a wider and deeper cultural status is restored in many ways, but nowhere more obviously than in this remarkable season which brings together great drama and dance from every state and territory in the nation. It stakes out our capital as the city which Walter Burley Griffin envisioned, not just host to the Australian government but a cultural showplace too.

I sincerely thank Bruce Carmichael and his team, and the team at the Centenary of Canberra, especially Beverly Growden, for the huge amount of work they have done to make this incredible season a reality. I also thank most sincerely all those State and Territory Arts departments who have given so generously to make it happen and to give you such a superb year in the theatre. I hope it will proclaim the richness of Australia’s output, as we see it all together in one season as never before. I also hope that at the Federal level this richness will be noted, and at the local level point to a new era for the Canberra Theatre Centre – one in which they can continue to take risks, and inspire you the audience through all the great works which these artists are so proud to bring to the national capital.

Robyn Archer
Creative Director
Centenary of Canberra