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Part of the Helpmann Awards family, the 2017 Centenary JC Williamson Award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Australian live entertainment and performing arts industry and shaped the future of our industry for the better.

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Robyn Archer AO

Robyn Archer is a singer, writer, director, artistic director and public advocate for the arts and  is often referred to as a national treasure. A prolific artist of the highest calibre, she is known to many for her one woman shows including A Star is Torn and Tonight Lola Blau, and to thousands more for her Artistic Directorship of memorable arts festivals in Canberra,  Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania.

Robyn is an acknowledged exponent of classic European cabaret, which won her the prestigious 2013 Helpmann Award as Australia’s Best Cabaret Performer and her title of Cabaret Icon at the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. She has recorded twelve albums and her writing includes essays, original songs, works for the theatre and children’s books.  Robyn wrote and directed The Sound of Falling Stars which will tour Australia in 2018.

Robyn has been Artistic Director of The Light in Winter, Federation Square Melbourne, since its inception in 2006. She is currently Strategic Advisor, Arts and Culture Gold Coast, Chair of the Arts Centre Gold Coast and Chair of the MFA in Cultural Leadership at NIDA. Robyn is the Australian Book ReviewLaureate and in demand as a speaker and writer on the arts.

She is the patron of numerous arts organisations across Australia and mentor for the European Festivals’ Association Ateliers. Robyn is an Officer of the Order of Australia, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) and Officer of the Crown (Belgium). Robyn holds Honorary doctorates from Flinders University (South Australia), Griffith University (Queensland) and the Universities of Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide and is an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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Reg Livermore AO

Spanning 60 years, Reg Livermore’s career on stage and in television includes achievements as an actor, author, director and designer.

He is especially remembered for show-stopping appearances in the original Australian productions of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, as the original Dr Frank’n’furter in the Australian production of The Rocky Horror Show and his bravura performance in the musical Barnum. Reg’s groundbreaking one-man shows in the 1970s- Betty Blokk Buster Follies and Wonder Woman – propelled him to the forefront of a new wave of Australian theatre.

Reg also starred as Max Bialystock in Mel Brooks’ musical The Producers in 2005/06, played Henry Higgins in Opera Australia’s 2008 presentation of My Fair Lady, and recently scored as Alfred Doolittle in the Julie Andrews 60th Anniversary production of this celebrated musical.

In 2018, Reg’s new play The Widow Unplugged or An Actor Deploys will be staged for the 60th Anniversary Season of the Ensemble Theatre, which has also presented his other works, Wish You Were HereRed Riding Hood, The Speed Hump and The Wolf, and The Thank You Dinner.

Arts Centre Melbourne celebrated Reg’s career with a major retrospective exhibition Take a Bow in 2011. Reg received an AO in 1996, published his autobiography Chapters and Chances in 2004, received the Sydney Critics Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and a Helpmann Award the same year. 

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Robyn Nevin AM

Described as ‘the complete actor’, Robyn Nevin AM has spent more than 50 years in front of the footlights. Robyn started her career as a shy 16-year-old in the first intake of acting students at the National Institute of Dramatic Art and has been a constant presence in Australian theatre ever since. She is acknowledged as a major influence in Australian theatre as actor, director and producer.

She has appeared on stage in all Australian states, and in many memorable film and television roles. Robyn has directed major productions and successfully run two flagship state theatre companies – the Queensland Theatre Company in the 1990s and the Sydney Theatre Company from 1999 to 2007 – as well as creating the multi award-winning Actors Company.

Robyn has won four Helpmann Awards, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Tasmania, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the performing arts. She has also mentored hundreds of young performers, directors and writers.

Renowned for her remarkable stamina and described as passionate, complex, loyal and tenacious by colleagues, she has a relentless belief in the power and worth of theatre, and no inclination to stop performing.

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Archie Roach AM

Archie Roach is a man of few words but when he speaks or sings those words resonate with your soul. He is one of Australia’s most treasured performers and a proud Gunditjmara/Bundjalung man.

When his debut album Charcoal Lane was released in 1990, the impact was immediate. The album’s centrepiece, ‘Took The Children Away’, shone a spotlight on the impact of the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from their families. The single won an international Human Rights Achievement Award (the first time ever awarded for a song). It was added to the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, acknowledging its significance in Australian cultural and social history.

Archie has released a further eight acclaimed albums, toured internationally with icons such as Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Rodriguez and Bob Dylan and worked on the sound track for Rolf de Heer’s acclaimed film The Tracker.

Archie has won three ARIA Awards (with a further seven nominations), eight Deadly Awards, a 2005 Helpmann Award with his beloved Ruby Hunter, the Australia Council for the Arts 2011 Red Ochre Award and 2015 Don Banks Award, In 2008, again with Ruby Hunter, Archie received the Sydney Myer Performing Arts Award.

Off stage, Archie works with young people caught up in the criminal justice system and mentors young and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. In 2015 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to music and his support of social justice.

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Jim Sharman

Jim Sharman is a stage and screen director and writer. Jim directed three era-defining musicals (Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Show) in Australia, the UK, Japan and the USA. He revived and premiered the stage and screen work of Patrick White and premiered new work by, among others, Louis Nowra and Stephen Sewell. His 70-plus productions include classics by Shakespeare, Brecht and Lorca and plays by Pinter, Orton and Sam Shepard.

Jim premiered the opera Voss and staged Don Giovanni, The Threepenny Opera, The Rake’s Progress, Cosi fan tutte and Death in Venice. His screen work includes White’s The Night The Prowler, online musical Andy X and the international cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show for Twentieth Century Fox.

Jim was Artistic Director of the ground-breaking 1982 Adelaide Festival of Arts featuring Pina Bausch and he also created the Lighthouse for the State Theatre Company of South Australia. He won the 2005 Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Play for Three Furies – Scenes from the Life of Francis Bacon. His memoir, Blood and Tinsel, was published by MUP.