Supporter Stories: Geraldine Lazarus

Geraldine Lazarus has had a fascinating professional life which has seen her engage in social research on a diverse range of topics from early Australian car makers and indigenous education to theatre-going! Geraldine is a former board member of Playbox and her partner Greig Gailey is currently on the board of Victoria Opera, so they have seen a lot of live theatre, including many overseas productions. Recently they were in London, where they demonstrated both personal stamina and commitment to theatre going.

‘We each chose two productions to see while we were there. We saw One Man, Two Guvnors and laughed uproariously, and are looking forward to seeing it again here this year. We also saw Singing in the Rain, a production where the audience in the first few rows were issued rain ponchos!’

Geraldine describes Greig as ‘a musicals nut. He probably owns the soundtrack to every one ever produced.’ Both adore Sondheim and feel he will come to be regarded as on a par with opera composers as time goes on. A recent highlight was seeing Follies in Washington DC with Bernadette Peters – one of Sondheim’s favourite interpreters of his work.

When they decided to set up a charitable foundation, Geraldine wanted to give to things she felt passionate about and could feel a personal connection with. That included education, particularly a broader cultural education. Her research into theatregoers convinced her of the importance of being introduced to theatre early in life by an experienced audience member. It was certainly a vital ingredient in creating her own theatregoing habits.

‘I’ve been going to the theatre all my life,’ she says. ‘My whole family loves it. I was taken by my grandmother, mother and Aunties and attended my first opera when I was ten years old.’

Therefore, she is committed to providing better access for young people whose families cannot afford theatre tickets. Those early experiences of theatre need to be frequent enough so that the young person discovers how diverse theatre can be.

Having given generously to the Education cause in the 2012 Annual Appeal, Geraldine was invited to a performance of the Youth Scholarship Course participants last July. Each year twenty-five students, all from disadvantaged backgrounds, are brought to Melbourne from throughout Victoria to experience a week’s intensive drama workshop. Over the years, it has proved to be life-changing for many of the young people, something Geraldine could see for herself.

‘You could see the transformative effect by the time they performed their production. It was terrific. Yet, I wondered why I was the only one outside of family members who saw the production?’

Following Geraldine’s feedback, we will be offering Patrons the opportunity to attend the Youth Scholarship Course performance this September. If you share Geraldine’s passion, please put Friday 27 September in your diaries to join us for this very uplifting and rewarding experience.

Another crucial program is the MTC Ambassadors, a group of Year 11 theatre-lovers who meet each month to attend shows, listen to guest speakers and exchange views on theatre. Recently Patrons, including Supporters of Education, met the latest group of Ambassadors, along with the cast and creative team from Beached, at a post-show supper. Patrons and Ambassadors alike were thrilled to talk with the artistic team, and the Patrons’ enjoyment of Beached proved that age is no barrier when it comes to the theatre.

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