Independent Theatre

...literature, life and really good yarns

Artistic director

Rob Croser

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In 1983, Rob helped found Independent Theatre and has been its Artistic Director from that time. Since 1984 Independent Theatre has produced three plays every year, all but two directed by Rob. In addition, he has actively sought to widen the company's repertoire by searching out, negotiating directly with overseas agents and playwrights, and obtaining premiere rights to new works. His establishment of contact and subsequent friendship with international playwrights Frank Galati, John Logan, Jon Marans, Charles Smith - as well as former I.T. actor, now playwright, Sam Adamson - has provided Independent Theatre with unique artistic opportunities.


In addition to directing (and occasionally acting) Rob has successfully written many stage adaptations of classic literary works – A Tale of Two Cities, The Lady of the Camelias , E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia, Cold Comfort Farm, and The Three Musketeers. In particular, he constructed, from 10 plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, a monumental two-part cycle of Greek tragedies entitled The Blood of Agamemnon which was staged at The Space in 1996. And his adaptation of the Steinbeck novel East of Eden at The Playhouse in 1998 was approved, endorsed and supported by Elaine Steinbeck, the novelist's widow. Rob's adaptation of four Shakespeare histories into Cry God for Harry! at The Odeon in 2001 enjoyed critical and audience acclaim.

 

Original works and many World Premieres

To commemorate the centenary of the birth of John Steinbeck, Rob wrote a theatrical celebration of the life and works of the great novelist. Called Steinbeck 100, it was performed on February 27, 2002, the actual centenary day of his birth, and Rob conveyed, to the cast and audience, the personal good wishes of Steinbeck's widow, Elaine, given by phone that very day.


Rob's next World Premiere was his stage adaptation of the great classic, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights , staged at The Odeon Theatre in mid-2002, starring Nicholas Opolski as Heathcliff and Tahli Corin as Cathy. In 2003, Rob adapted one of Charles Dickens' best loved works - Great Expectations. It was staged in two parts over four hours, and performed at the Odeon Theatre. Then in 2004, with encouragement and mentoring from IT's benefactor John Logan, Rob used his own voice to create a new play Daniel Deronda, based on one of his favourite novels by George Eliot, but updated to 1930s Germany.
 
In 1995, to commemorate the centenary of the Oscar Wilde criminal trials, Rob compiled a theatrical documentary on Wilde's life and court trials. Judging Oscar was drawn entirely from original source materials through meticulous and extensive research of letters, autobiographies, trial transcripts, etc. It was performed by Dennis Olsen as Wilde, on the actual centenary day of Wilde's conviction.

Rob's more recent stage adaptations have been The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice. The 2013 season saw his World premiere adaptation of Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons.

 

Working with many different communities

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In more recent years, he has chosen plays which have involved the company with performers from Adelaide's wider international communities. A Passage to India, in 2005, saw 14 actors from Adelaide's Indian Community help tell E.M Forster's tale of race relations in British India. And, in 2006, Cry, the Beloved Country brought 16 actors from all over the African continent into the company for Alan Paton's searing story about pre-Apartheid South Africa. Rob is especially proud of these ventures, which have enriched the lives and experience not only of the I.T. company members, but also the wider Adelaide theatre audiences.


These ventures have led to Rob's ability to produce and appropriately cast such plays as To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink, Joyce Cary's Mister Johnson, as well as two magnificent new plays – Free Man of Colour and Les Trois Dumas, by American playwright, Charles Smith, who came to Adelaide and worked with Rob and the actors on both plays.

The 2014 season sees a continuation of this tradition, with the presentation of Athol Fugard's masterpiece "Master Harold" . . . and the boys.

 

Alongside Independent Theatre

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Rob was born in Maitland, South Australia, educated at Scotch College and University of Adelaide, and is now a lawyer with the Legal Services Commission of South Australia. Since 1981, he has worked exclusively at the Adelaide Children's (now Youth) Court as an advocate and separate legal representative of Children in Child Protection proceedings. He is the most experienced children's solicitor in South Australia, if not the whole country. Rob was responsible for ensuring the practice of representation for every child in Child Protection cases, a practice which was subsequently made mandatory in State legislation. He has advised on child protection legislation both in South Australia and Tasmania. In 2010, he was awarded the National Children's Law Award for "Outstanding representation of the interests of children".

A devout Anglican, Rob is also actively involved with the Diocese of Adelaide and has collaborated with former Archbishop Ian George in presenting programmes of drama, music and history in St Peter's Cathedral. He also staged the Festival Theatre Service for the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie.
 
From childhood, Rob's abiding love has always been the theatre. He spent many years freelance directing for various Adelaide companies such as Therry, Adelaide Rep and St Judes. From 1976 – 1979 he was resident boarding house English and Drama tutor at Scotch College, and has directed shows for Pulteney Grammar School and Annesley College students. He was a member of the South Australian Youth Arts Board for 11 years, and has taught stagecraft to opera students at the Elder Conservatorium. He has directed Bizet's Doctor Miracle for the State Opera Young Artists' Programme, and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas for the Conservatorium.

In 2013, he and partner David Roach were each awarded Medals of the Order of Australia for their contribution to the Arts through Amateur Theatre.  In the Governor's Multicultural Awards, February, Rob won the Arts and Culture Award "for an outstanding contribution through the arts and culture".