Carnegie Mellon University

Aussie Invasion

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Robyn Archer, Australian Festival in the 'Burgh

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Robyn Archer, noted Australian Festival artistic director, is in Pittsburgh this week offering master classes and conducting workshops for music theater students at Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama.

"Robyn is an artist who has moved beyond her discipline to become a remarkable intellectual and creative force," said Elizabeth Bradley, head of the School of Drama. "Any time I've seen Robyn's work — either in concert in her life as a performer of political cabaret, or giving a keynote speech at an international conference — I have never been less than thoroughly engaged and stimulated."

Archer has a varied background as a performer and author. She is a singer and composer of many songs and works that have been staged around the world. Many of her original pieces are in the spirit of German Cabaret, a form that flourished in pre-World War II Germany. Her play "Architektin" will be staged in 2008.

"For me, the definition of art is almost that it doesn't have any audience, because it's highly original and creative," Archer said. "You don't know what it is, and so, in a way, for real art, the measure of your audience is impossible."

She points to Van Gogh as an example. "There was no audience, no buyer, and yet he is now recognized as one of the great artists, so the same applies today," she said in a 2002 interview on the Austrian television program "INSIGHT."

Archer is in demand as artistic director for festivals in Europe, Australia and North America. She served as director of both the Adelaide and Melbourne festivals in Australia and is the international artistic advisor to Toronto's Luminato Festival.

On Monday, Archer lectured on "Setting Context for the Contemporary Arts in Australia," which provided valuable background to the array of Australian performing arts companies visiting Pittsburgh this fall as part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Australia Festival.

For more information on Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Australian Festival, which includes six weeks of performance in October and November, visit the Trust website.

Related Links: Archer's Bio  |  School of Drama