After the death of respected Australian playwright and author Alex Buzo in 2006, his daughter, Australian actress Emma Buzo (pictured), took on the role of custodian of her father’s work.
Emma Buzo told Australian Women Online, “In the months after my father’s death I had this idea to launch a company that officially manages the work, and not only acts as the literary agent and manages the estate, but also produces some of the work.”
“My father had a tremendous amount of energy and integrity in the way that he worked. He had a very long career and I just hated the thought of this being no more.”
The Alex Buzo Company was officially launched in September 2007 and such was the depth of respect and admiration for her late father and his work, Emma was able to recruit some of the nation’s most esteemed patrons of the arts for the company’s Advisory Board. Playwright David Williamson, former NSW Premier Bob Carr, former Chairman and Managing Director of the ABC David Hill, and Head of NIDA Corporate Performance Barbara Warren, are among those who sit on the Advisory Board of The Alex Buzo Company.
In its first year, The Alex Buzo Company established the Alex Buzo Memorial Lecture, inaugurated by board member and former NSW Premier Bob Carr.
“My father came from the University of New South Wales and he was very proud of his Alma Marta, and the university seemed like a natural partner for the company and I was thrilled when NSW picked up the idea for an annual lecture,” Emma Buzo said.
Thanks to Emma’s tireless efforts, The Alex Buzo Company has also succeeded in putting the playwright’s work back on the NSW Higher School Certificate Drama syllabus and commissioned new Australian writing.
“We have engaged a wonderful playwright by the name of Alana Valentine to write a play to be presented as a double bill with one of my father’s plays next year at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. Alana’s play has been written to be presented as a contemporary response to ‘Norm and Ahmed’, a play about racism and prejudice. This is exactly the kind of projects I want The Alex Buzo Company to be doing. It’s all about engaging current writers and current audiences so my father’s legacy will continue.”
As The Alex Buzo Company enters it’s second year, Emma has established a partnership between the company and the corporate training arm of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), to present a series of corporate training workshops.
Emma Buzo explains, “The first workshop will be using my father’s earliest play as inspiration for a corporate workshop in bullying. The play is called ‘Norm and Ahmed‘ and it’s about a white, middle aged ocker male, and this young Pakistani uni student and it’s set in Sydney. This play has been so popular over the decades because it’s about racism and prejudice, and generational and cultural tensions. We will be using scenes from Norm and Ahmed for this facilitated workshop on bullying in the workplace.”
“A lot of us actors relate our skills to other industries such as corporate training because the skill of acting is all about communicating.”
In addition to her work as a teacher, producer and the custodian of her father’s legacy, Emma is also an actress, most recently appearing in Home and Away and on a Coco Pops TV commercial. “It hasn’t been one of my most illustrious years. It’s a funny old business to be in and because there are so many of us [actors] we have to be very flexible and if you want to stay in the business you have to be the ‘breakfast cereal mum’ or go and do jobs on the soaps,” said the actress and mother of three.
“Next year the company is producing one of his [Alex Buzo] plays at NIDA as part of their 50th year and I’m actually going to be acting in that one. There is a central role in it that I have admired and been thinking about all my life – I saw it’s premier when I was ten and I actually went on a couple of research trips with my father for the play. It’s set in Fiji and now that I’m 35, I’m the right age for this character and I’m really looking forward to playing that role next year.”
Emma Buzo also has plans to extend the company’s role in supporting the arts in Australia and developing new Australian writing talent. “There is an arm of the company that is able to receive tax deductible donations for particular projects, and as the years go by I would very much like to establish scholarships and regularly commission new Australian writing.”
For more information about The Alex Buzo Company visit the website www.alexbuzo.com.au