Richard Piper

Feature | Richard Piper's MTC story

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From artists to audiences, we all have an important part to play at Melbourne Theatre Company. We asked some members of MTC’s community what the Company means to them. Actor and audience favourite, Richard Piper, says that for him MTC is the thumping heartbeat of our city’s drama community.

I have had a wonderful relationship with Melbourne Theatre Company over the past three decades and I feel very privileged for it. In some ways it feels like an eternity, and in other ways it feels like a very short period of time.

Simon Phillips and Roger Hodgman gave me my first entrance into the Company so I suppose I owe it to them that I stayed in Australia when I moved in 1987.

I crash-landed into theatre and had the most amazing performers around me. The first play I did was with Shane Bourne, Judith McGrath and Bob Hornery – I was re-educated in the life of theatre.

I worked flat-out for Melbourne Theatre Company when I arrived. Between 1987 and 1990, I did twelve productions. That’s quite different to how it is now. The way it worked back then was in repertory – two thirds of the time with Simon Phillips and one third of the time with Roger Hodgman. At one stage, we were performing two plays in repertory at night and rehearsing two plays during the day.

We turned the dressing rooms into a pub … we literally lived in the building. I mean some people wouldn’t go home at night, they would just stay! We were a huge family and Simon Phillips was certainly key in this empire of incredibly innovative art and wild productions. We were pushing envelopes. It was fantastic.

MTC was, and remains, the thumping heartbeat of Melbourne’s drama community. I’ve always loved theatre, it’s always been my great love, and it’s always been what I wanted to do. It’s just too ingrained in me. When I get into a theatre, I feel I’m home. It gives you energy, so you give it energy.

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