David Pledger

David Pledger

A friend from Monash Uni student theatre brought me along to St Martin’s and I brought another friend, Tim Conigrave, and we were in Zig and Zag Follies together before Tim went to NIDA and I followed him a couple of years later. St Martin’s was an incredible place. I was a full-back from the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and I’d only just given up my dream of playing AFL, I was 18 and I now wanted to be an actor. Everyone was so talented. I remember the first time I heard Gina Riley sing, she played Ita Buttrose in When Lips Collide, I think my eardrums cracked so powerful was her voice. We used to hang out at her place after rehearsals ‘cos it was close by. It was another world. She knew The Birthday Party, it was so glamorous. I did everything at St Martin’s, I cleaned the building once a week to pay the rent, I was an accounts trainee, I acted but mostly I wanted to write.

One of the plays I wrote there, Erik And Verne Was Here, was optioned by the Sydney Theatre Company and I was commissioned by Playbox Theatre (Malthouse) to write a new play. I also directed my first play there by Barry Dickins with Catherine McClements as one of the actors, she didn’t need much direction, she was very instinctive. One of the best things that happened at St Martins was joining The Globos, a comedy-cabaret-rock act that journalist Mark Trevorrow put together with hairdresser Wendy de Waal. Mark knew Molly Meldrum and when we released our first single, Tintarella di Luna, we co-hosted Countdown, we felt like royalty. We had two Top-Ten hits and were the support act for Cliff Richard’s World Jubilee Tour in Australia. We were installed at the newly-opened Kinsella’s Theatre in Taylor’s Square in Sydney and became instant celebrities, I mean we had dinner with George Harrison, we couldn’t stop pinching ourselves, all that out of St Martin’s and all that by the age of 22. Then I went to NIDA to study acting and became a student activist but that’s the next chapter…

40:40 Online showcases stories from current participants and alumni – here and on the socials throughout the year.

In December, 40:40 Live will activate the entire St Martins site, for a once-only interaction with over 100 young people. Keep an eye out here for more details of 40:40 Live later in the year.

40:40 is an invitation to all those who are and have been through the doors of St Martins to reconnect, re-enter and re-discover the site.

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Emilie Collyer
Ted Hargreaves
Petra Kalive
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Kate Hunter
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