Ruby sets off a sparkling career

morley-pianoBrecht expert, pianist and long-time teacher of drama at Flinders, emeritus Professor Michael Morley has been honoured with the Premier’s Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2011 State awards for the performing arts, the Ruby Awards.

Presenting the award to Professor Morley, the Premier, Mr Mike Rann, said that Professor Morley had “mentored and inspired generations of young South Australians, while also carrying on a stellar career as an extremely talented and inspired pianist and director”.

Professor Morley joined Flinders in 1977, and has since taught hundreds of students in both the theory and performance streams of drama education at Flinders. He was appointed professor in 1984 and retired in 2009.

A Brecht scholar of international renown, Professor Morley has also toured the world as accompanist to cabaret performer Robyn Archer as well as traveling to direct productions of Brecht and other musical theatre in Europe and the US.

The constant interlinking of theory and performance extends to all aspects of drama education, Professor Morley said.

He said that teaching drama performance is also a necessarily intensive and expensive activity in terms of class sizes and time.

“Ensemble classes need to be supplemented with individual teaching in areas such as voice and movement,” he said.

“It’s not something you can do on-line.”

One of the nicest aspects of his Ruby Award, Professor Morley said, was that it prompted a stream of contacts from former students.

Many of Professor Morley’s students have gone on to distinguished careers, and include actors Amber McMahon, Cameron Goodall and Xavier Samuel, director Katherine Fitzgerald and Festival Centre chief Douglas Gautier.

“Drama students demonstrate what Seneca said two thousand years ago: that men, while they teach, are learning,” Professor Morley said.

“Students stimulate you and provoke you, and you learn things from them all the time.”

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