It’s hard to single out particular performances. Young Robyn Smith managed to glimpse the dying years of Australian vaudeville through her father and her first mentor, song and dance man Keith Petersen. She approached nightclub work from that angle and when she first encountered ‘art’ it was that of Berlin and the 30s.

She embraced the tradition of European Cabaret in the works of Brecht/Weill and Eisler and then went on to devise and write many original works in the political cabaret mould – Kold Komfort Kaffee, The Pack of Women, Scandals, Cut and Thrust, See Ya Next Century – and innumerable concert and cabaret performances which juxtaposed existing with original material, the comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Robyn Archer has said that in her role as a curator of major festivals, she feels a direct continuum – that making a festival works on the same principle as making a cabaret – juxtaposition and surprise, the old with the new, the tough with the sweet, the familiar with the unfamiliar – so that the whole is so much greater than the mere sum of the parts.

Speeches + Words

Below you will find a selection of speeches, lectures and addresses given by Robyn Archer.

Below you will find a selection of essays and writings


Robyn Archer’s record in television has been surprisingly successful. The Pack of Women went from a London hit with Robyn in it, to an Australian hit with Robyn directing, to a book and a TV version ( directed by Ted Robinson and starring Jo Kennedy, Meryl Tankard, Judi Connelli, Tracey Harvey with Sandy Evans and Marie Steinway as well as Robyn), the soundtrack of which won an ARIA award.

Her ABC monologue, The One That Got Away, which she wrote and performed was directed by Di Drew and caught many audiences appreciatively unaware.

The Don Featherstone biography of Robyn, Lowering the Tone, in his Creative Spirits series received an AFI nomination for best documentary.