VALE - Doreen Warburton OBE (22/03/1930 - 19/07/2017)

Doreen Warburton was the sole Patron of The Acting Factory since it’s inception until her death on 19 July 2017.

“Theatre should reflect society. Everything we do artistically should help us and our audience to greater understanding of the human condition. I believe the greatest performances come from ensemble work….love for each other and dedication to the artform. An artist should always strive for perfection… To the best of my capabilities, I want to contribute to the growth of a vital, reflective and stimulating Australian Theatre.”       Doreen Warburton (Who’s Who)

Doreen worked for all the major theatre companies in Sydney, appeared in many classic TV shows and iconic Australian films including They're A Weird Mob, Nickel Queen, Wendy Cracked a Walnut and Ned Kelly. She taught at NIDA, was a member of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council, a founding member of the Actors Forum, and a lifelong member of Actors Equity.

In 1963, she joined Ben Gabriel (whom she later married), Edward Hepple, Robert McDarra, Terry McDermott and Walter Sullivan to present one act plays at the AMP Theatrette at Circular Quay. This company became known as The Q Theatre Group's Lunch Hour Theatre and Doreen became its artistic director. It developed into a highly successful lunch hour theatre company and was a shop window for actors, directors and writers, providing affordable opportunities for audiences to experience theatre. Many of Australia's budding theatre practitioners who would go on to change the face of Sydney theatre worked at the company during this time.

"I believe that theatre opens doors and windows to people. I always wanted to reach people who didn't normally go to the theatre. If you make theatre accessible and reasonably priced, people will go. I don't like elitist theatre."

The Q was the first company to perform at the unfinished Sydney Opera House to 500 workers in hard hats, eating their lunch and whistling for more.

In 1977, Warburton, along with Arthur Dicks, Richard Brooks, Kevin Jackson, Tony Ingersent, and Max Iffland took the very brave move of taking The Q to Penrith and with the encouragement of Penrith Council, set up shop in Penrith's Railway Institute building, converting it into a 120 seat theatre. On March 30, 1977, Lock Up Your Daughters opened The Q Theatre at Penrith and was the first of 81 successful productions during Warburton's stewardship. The Q serviced not only the immediate Penrith area but also took its shows to Parramatta, Bankstown, Orange and beyond.

In 1979, the Q was awarded the Sydney Critics Award for the Best Theatre Company of the year. The same year Warburton made history when she became the first woman director at the Sydney Opera House when the Q presented George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple in the Drama Theatre. During her 12 years as artistic director, the Q Theatre became recognised as the largest, most successful regional theatre in Australia and contributed significantly to the growth of theatre in Sydney.

Warburton believed strongly in community theatre and it was the links she established within the western suburbs of Sydney and in particular the young people of Penrith through the establishment of youth workshops of which she was most proud.

In 1972 she received an OBE for her services to theatre.

Excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald 28 July 2017


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