My early years as a teacher made me obsessed with how I was helping my students to develop employability skills. My questions led me to look at entrepreneurs and their use of technologies to develop the modern theatre industry. In the purposeful convoluted ways of doctoral research, my obsession led me to examine the setting up of the Australian theatre industry between 1879 to 1914 through the powerful trends of local pantomime producers.
In turn, this led me to examine the workings of the ‘gig economy’ and a host of other issues in the cross-over between aesthetics and economics. What was the role of gender? How was Australian racism enabled and counter-argued through popular pantomime productions? Why did so few original pantomime writers come to see Australian culture as governed by ‘the Spirit of Mirth’, mocking the vainglorious practices of so-called European Old World?
In the six years I lived in London between 2009 and 2014, I researched in areas of English pantomime which I was not able to access during the time of writing my thesis between 1991- 1996. I combed the British Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum Archive and many other smaller archives to learn the English end of the productions I had traced in Australia, produced by J. C Williamson, Alfred Dampier, William Anderson and other antipodean theatre entrepreneurs.
In the last five years, I have been re-writing my initial findings to establish ways the pantomime context can be used to teach employability and entrepreneurial skills to K-10 students. As a direct contradiction to the adage we learn nothing from history, I have created a series of scenarios around the most radical, egalitarian original pantomimes in which past workers in the theatre industry provide interesting exemplars for ‘selling’ audiences laughter.