DOREEN WARBURTON O. B. E.
22 March 1930 – 19 July 2017
Actor, Director, Teacher. Founding member and later Artistic Director of the Q Theatre.
Doreen was born in London and joined Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop at the age of 18. Her parents and siblings moved to Australia in 1949 and insisted that she follow. Doreen reluctantly agreed to come for a year in 1953, and stayed for the rest of her life.
Doreen worked for all the major theatre companies in Sydney, appeared in many classic TV shows and iconic Australian films including They're A Weird Mob, Nickel Queen, Wendy Cracked a Walnut and Ned Kelly. She taught at NIDA, was a member of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council, a founding member of the Actors Forum, and was a lifelong member of Actors Equity. She was always an enthusiastic supporter of ABF throughout her long career.
In 1963 she co-founded The Q Theatre Group’s Lunch Hour Theatre and became its Artistic Director. The Q took productions to building sites, bus and railway depots, factories, shopping centres, showrooms and even as far afield as Townsville, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. It was the first company to perform at the unfinished Sydney Opera House to 500 workers in hard hats, eating their lunch and whistling for more.
In 1977 the Q made the brave move to Penrith and with the encouragement of Penrith Council, set up shop in The Railway Institute building, converting it into a 120 seat theatre. On 30 March 1977, Lock Up Your Daughters opened The Q Theatre at Penrith and was the first of 81 successful productions during her stewardship. In 1979 the Q was awarded the Sydney Critics Award for the Best Theatre Company of that year. In that year Doreen made history when she became the first woman director at the Sydney Opera House when the Q presented George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple’ in the Drama Theatre. During Doreen’s twelve years as Artistic Director, the Q Theatre became recognised as the largest, most successful regional theatre in Australia and contributed significantly to the growth of theatre in Sydney. In 1972 she received an O.B.E for her services to theatre.