Projects

Major projects include:-

- Co-founder with Gary Fry of Shopfront Theatre for Young People, Sydney.

He was Artistic Director for 9 years and later Chairman of the Board for 2 years (1976-1987). Shopfront provided an acclaimed program of performances of playbuilt shows, plays by young writers, and adaptations of classics. This program established a reputation for innovation and quality. From 1984 a program of overseas performance tours of Shopfront playbuilt shows performed by their young creators. EB directed and led these in 1984, 1985 and 1988 – to England, Scotland, Wales, France, Czechoslovakia (as it was then), Canada and the USA. These tours met with great acclaim, especially “Piece by Piece” which performed to standing ovations at the Vancouver Youth Festival in 1985 and played at the United Nations in New York.

Shopfront offered a diverse program of workshops responding to participant interests: screen-printing, puppetry, photography, dance, mime, writing, lighting and sound, etc. Young people from 8-25 were involved in all aspects of the running and management of the theatre. During EB’s Artistic Directorship all workshops and participation in the theatre were free to young people.

Fund-raising by young people and families at Shopfront resulted in the purchase of the extensive premises in 1979 which are now valued at over 1.5 million dollars. This security of ownership anchored the ongoing life of the theatre and (in 2012) it continues an exciting program of projects and activities.

- Founder and Artistic Director of Australian National Young Playwrights Weekend (1978-1987) held at Shopfront Theatre.

This was an annual 3½-day event to encourage young writers – 30-40 writers aged from 12 to 17 from all states attended. They worked, slept and ate at Shopfront Theatre. Meals were provided courtesy of the parents of Shopfront young members. There was a range of workshop and readings provided and participants got to work with outstanding Sydney-based professionals such as Alex Buzo, Bryan Brown, John Dingwall, Alma de Groen, Max Gillies, Peter Kenna, and Jim McNeil.

- Founder of World Interplay festival for young playwrights and Director of the first 4 festivals (1983-1995) – the first two in Sydney; 3rd in Warragul (Vic); and the 4th in Townsville.

The brief was to establish and administer an international event for emerging playwrights – initially aged 12 to 20, but later 18 to 26; to develop and manage its workshop, readings and performance programs, developing a team of Australian and international professional tutors, directors and actors for each festival; and oversight of travel, accommodation, meals and hospitality arrangements. EB was consultant and tutor for the 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003 Festivals. From 1998 he was Founding Patron by Board appointment. (Unfortunately due to financial pressures World Interplay was wound up in 2011.)

During EB’s involvement the festivals nurtured over 400 emerging playwrights from 25 nations and providing ongoing support networks. The young writers included: Donna Abela (Aust.), Ezekiel Alembi (Kenya), Biyi Bandele-Thomas (Nigeria), Hilary Bell (Aust.), Luke Devenish (Aust.), Bridget Carpenter (US), Valerie Foley (Aust.), Sara Graefe (Canada), Jonathan Harvey (UK), Sarah Kane (UK), Barrie Kosky (Aust.), Le Quy Duong (Vietnam, now Aust.), Adam May (Aust.), Chris Mead (Aust.), Han Ong (US), Duncan Sarkies (NZ), Antje Strubel (Germany), Ta Duy Binh (Vietnam, now Aust.), Alexa Wyatt (Aust.), Felicia Zeller (Germany).

In 1995, the Interplay model was adopted in Germany by young playwright delegates from the 1994 World Festival to create Interplay Europe which has held an emerging playwrights festival biennially in a different European city ever since.

- Founder and artistic Director of Switchboard Arts Co-op Ltd (1987-the present); and of its Emerge Project for development of new and emerging playwrights at Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane (2005-2012).

EB has also run major community theatre and arts projects including being Artistic Director (1985) of the 1st Sydney Youth Festival with a wide range of activities in Parramatta Park and at the Opera House forecourt (a pageant play written and performed by young people – 150 in the cast – and an attempt on the world record for group tap-dancing with 800 dancers). Director of the West Gippsland Arts Centre in rural Victoria (1990-1992) where he established a community theatre, youth theatre and nurtured vigorous interaction with community visual arts and crafts ; and of the 2002 Desert Uplands Festival in Central Queensland (covering 75,000 sq km) with touring shows by young performers; a region-wide competitions for photography and scarecrows.

He was commissioned to write and direct the play Playing Federation in 2001, a history of Thuringowa in Northern Queensland. The performance had a cast of 300 from over 40 community groups, including schools, ethnic associations, indigenous groups, sporting groups, and the Australian army. Ages of the cast ranged from 7 to 86; music was provided by the 1RAR Band; Aboriginal history was danced and performed by the Bindal Dancers.

He worked as a sessional tutor and lecturer at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane from 2002- 2012. Lectures given covered Shakespeare production; Brecht; directing; and youth theatre. He supervised QUT’s cohort programs for the MA (by Research) Playwrighting (2005-2008), working with playwrights such as and supervised individual post-graduate students from 2009-2012.

His play The Choir was produced widely in Australia in the 1980s and it has been produced in Washington DC (1984), Ljubljana (1985), and London (2009). His play Nijinsky at Twilight was produced in 1998 by Theatre UpNorth with Australian ballet legend, Garth Welch, playing the older Nijinsky role. Many other plays have been produced by youth, community and independent companies. His book on group-creation with young people – Playbuilding (Currency Press, 1994) is used nationally as a text for drama teachers and was published by Heinemann. In 2001, he was awarded a PhD for his thesis on international projects in new play development, covering more than 250 projects.

As Artistic Director of Switchboard Arts he forged a partnership with Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, in 2005 to create the Emerge Project offering opportunities to local emerging theatre writers and other practitioners to develop their craft in quality professional spaces. To date Emerge has worked with over 60 local writers, including Richard Jordan, producing his first major play. Errol was director and dramaturg for many short plays and rehearsed readings for Emerge as well as for 10 major productions in the JWC Performance Space.

In January 2004, through Switchboard Arts (and with funding from his brother, Russell) EB directed a feature-film of his own script, “Resolutions”. After some years of organisational dilemmas followed by inventive, creative editing by Michael Webb, the DVD will be on sale through Switchboard’s website in late 2012.

In November 2011, EB achieved publication for the first time of one of his novels, Berzoo, with Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne. It is a coming-of-middle-age/thriller novel set in 1995 in Berlin, Sydney and Venice.

Errol developed a new production of The Choir which he directed at the Powerhouse, Visy Theatre, in Brisbane in December 2012. He is currently working on another novel.