Christopher Ross-Smith was a theatre director, actor and teacher who maintained a lifelong passion for training theatre educators, supporting emerging practitioners and promoting professional work across regional centres.
Christopher trained at Rose Bruford's College of Speech and Drama in the UK and worked professionally in the United States, the UK and South Africa before bringing his young family to Australia on his appointment to NIDA. In 1977 he became Head of the Theatre Studies Department at University of New England developing a unique theatre education course unlike any other in the country at that time, enriched with vocational practises, multiple public productions and visiting professional companies. Hundreds of drama teachers across Australia still use his methods and remember his warmth, wit and humour.
Throughout his long career, Christopher remained passionate about developing ongoing professional theatre opportunities for performers in regional NSW and founded the Armadillos Theatre Company in 1985 after the de-funding of the New England Theatre Company. He was a President of the Australasian Drama Studies Association (ASDA) and following his retirement from UNE in 1996, helped to establish a new Cultural Centre in Armidale, becoming its first coordinator.
Christopher was on the producing team of the Armidale Biennial Arts Festival for 10 years and brought Opera Australia productions to Armidale (and later to Maleny in QLD) as their regional presenter for well over a decade.
Christopher was the inaugural chairman of The Armidale and Regional Performing Arts Centre (ARPAC) and in 2008 he received an Australian government award [OAM] to recognise his contribution to regional theatre and the community.
Over the years he directed many plays and following retirement he continued to act and direct. Productions included The Plague and The Moonflower, God’s Drawing Board, Kids Stuff, Walton’s Henry V, Love Letters, Enemy of the People and Under Milkwood, and toured regional centres as an actor with Grant Dodwell, focussing on problems specific to farmers in outback New South Wales.
He was fondly remembered at an intimate funeral.
Donations to Actors Benevolent Fund of NSW can be made in his name on