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Robyn Archer


Robyn Archer AO FAHA is a singer, writer, artistic director and public advocate for the arts. Winner of the Helpmann Award for Best Cabaret Performer 2013, and named Cabaret Icon at the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, she currently performs highly acclaimed recitals of French, German and American song, After COVID’s multiple postponements, Robyn returned to the stage in 2021 for the 20th anniversary of Ten Days on The Island (the festival she created for Tasmania) with the feisty and moving Mother Archer’s Cabaret for Dark Times which also played the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Melbourne Recital Centre. During lockdowns Robyn contributed video performances to the Cabaret Festival and Midusmma as well as essays and podcasts for University of Melbourne and Australian Book Review.

In July 2022 she premiered Robyn Archer: an Australian Songbook with a two week season for Queensland Theatre. The show was an audience and critical success and will tour in 2023: Belvoir Theatre in Sydney has announced a season October 2023 and other cities will soon be announced. Robyn has also been invited to perform at World Pride in Sydney February 2023.

Robyn is recognised internationally for her expertise in the repertoire of the Weimar Republic and for many other stage successes such as A Star is Torn and Tonight Lola Blau. She has written plays including Il Magnifico, Poor Joanna (with poet Judith Rodriguez), and Architektin; plays with music including Songs From Sideshow Alley and Café Fledermaus and The Bridge, and devised cabarets featuring her own songs and writing such as The Pack of Women, Scandals and Cut and Thrust. Robyn has recorded eleven albums, most notably Robyn Archer Sings Brecht (recorded at Abbey Road with The London Sinfonietta). Her complete back catalogue (including her raucous originals) is being digitally re-released by Rouseabout Records (Undercover music) and is now available on various digital platforms.

Robyn has published numerous books from The Robyn Archer Songbook to Mrs Bottle’s Burp and Detritus (a collection of her public speeches) as well as writing for the Griffith Review and the Australian Book Review. But she is equally known worldwide for her wider contributions to the arts. She was formerly Artistic Director of the Adelaide and Melbourne International Arts Festivals, creator of Ten Days on the Island for Tasmania, and creative producer of The Centenary of Canberra 2013. Robyn continues to combine advisory and mentoring roles with her own creative output. Former Deputy Chair of The Australia Council, Robyn was cultural advisor to arts and culture on the Gold Coast and chaired the Board of HOTA. She also chaired the inaugural Master of Fine Arts in Cultural Leadership at NIDA and for ten years she mentored for the European Festivals’ Association Academy Ateliers.

Among her many awards, including the ABR Laureate, the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Cultural Leadership Award, the SA Premier’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Society for Performing Arts’ International Achievement Award and an ARIA Award for Best Soundtrack (The Pack of Women), the 2018 Adelaide Festival of Ideas Dedication recognised Robyn for her contribution to the world of ideas and public life, and received the JC Williamson Centenary Lifetime Achievement Award. Robyn is an Officer of the Order of Australia, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), Officer of the Crown (Belgium) ,Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and has Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Sydney and Adelaide as well as Flinders , Canberra and Griffith Universities and the University of South Australia.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.