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Judging Panels

The Green Room Awards were formed in 1982 by director and stage manager, Blair Edgar (Pictured) and actor, Steven Tandy. Since the demise of the ‘Kutners’ (the theatre critics awards named after Erik Kutner and auspiced by the Council of Adult Education with support from St Martins Theatre) there had been no regular industry awards acknowledging outstanding achievements in the performing arts.

Support for the new awards was canvassed at a dinner at The Green Room Club in Queen’s Road, Albert Park attended by the then Director of the Ministry for the Arts – Paul Clarkson along with Eric Westbrook, John Sumner, Anne Fraser, Peggy van Praagh, Noel Pelly, Irene Mitchell, Kenn Brodziak, Lady Tait, George Fairfax, Alfred Ruskin, Sir Rupert [Dick] Hamer, Don Dunstan, Bob Crimeen, Leonard Radic, Betty Pounder, Ken McKenzie-Forbes, Sue Nattrass, Kelvin Coe, Robert Essex, Ray Powell, Anne Charleston, Suzanne Steele, Patricia Kennedy, Ray Lawler and Brian James.

Further meetings were held and the group of supporters expanded to include John Rickard, Hugo Leschen, Frank van Straten, Lady Joy Snedden, Glenda Raymond, Nancye Grant, Lorenzo Nolan, Pamela Ruskin, Greg Dempsey, Caroline Gillmer, Carrillo Gantner, Jill Smith and John Beckett. Eventually, the then Ministry for the Arts offered the fledging organization $100 towards postage and the awards were underway.

The first year of judging took place in 1983 with the awards being made at the inaugural Green Room Awards Ceremony held in the foyer of the Melbourne Concert Hall (now Hamer Hall) in February 1984. The whole event lasted for 45 minutes and cost a total of $680 (largely subsidised by Blair Edgar).

The original award was a medallion designed by Anne Fraser. It was made from bronze with a bird’s eye view of a Greek Theatre on one side and a half Laurel wreath on the other where the recipient’s name could be engraved (by Perry Fletcher).

In 1987, Blair Edgar successfully approached the City of Melbourne with the idea of establishing an official Theatre Day. After a council resolution on December 15, 1987, the then Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne Winsome McCaughy proclaimed that the third Tuesday in February each year would be Theatre Day on which ‘…the City of Melbourne and the State of Victoria honour all those who derive their living from the theatre.’ For several years after that, the Green Room Awards Ceremony was held annually on Theatre Day and then, later, it became the traditional day for the announcement of nominations.

As the Green Room Awards grew, the initial support from George Fairfax at the Victorian Arts Centre (now Arts Centre Melbourne) increased and, in 1989, the event moved into the ANZ Pavilion with additional support from Paul Kathner, Paul Anderson, Bill Akers and the Australian Ballet Technical Staff, JC Williamson Stage Crews, MTC Wardrobe and Wigs, Betty Druitt and Sue Nattrass.

From 1995 to 2005, the Green Room Awards through Beverley Dunn and the Performing Arts Museum, produced Talk In The Green Room, a series of archival Current Recorded interviews with key figures from the performing arts industry. They included interviews with: Peter Adams, Vernon Axup, Peter Carroll, Gregory Dempsey, Lloyd Evans, George Fairfax, John Gaden, Alan Hopgood, Greg Horsman, James Inglis, Brian James, Patricia Kennedy, Ronald Maconachie, Noel Mangin, Laurel Martyn, Irene Mitchell, Lisa Pavane, Alfred Ruskin, John Surnner, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Mary Ward, Jeff Warren, Joy Westmore, Joy Youlden-Connor, Frederick Parslow, Dame Margaret Scott, Monica Maughan, Brian Crossley and Nance Grant MBE. In addition to these, the collection included John Bell, Anna Volska, Paul English, Deidre Rubenstein, Jill Perryman and Vivienne Garrett (courtesy The Box Seat, ABC Radio) as well as Geoffrey Ingram, Modesta Gentile, Gary Norman, Marilyn Jones, Garth Welch, Damien Welch, Li Cunxin, Steven Heathcote and John Lanchbery (courtesy The Australian Ballet Society).

In 1996, the Green Room Awards Association registered its trademark and in 2001 a new ‘green’ trophy was designed and presented for the first time and continued to be the award until 2014 when the Association worked with trophy makers, Design Awards, to design and present a new trophy.

In 2012, after a long and valued relationship of almost thirty years, the partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne came to an end. The following year, the Marriner Group stepped into the breech supporting the Green Room Awards Ceremony which was then held in the Comedy Theatre.



1982    Green Room Awards established by Blair Edgar and Steven Tandy

            Supporters’ dinner held at Green Room Club, Albert park

1983    Firstyear of judging

            Steven Tandy is the inaugural President

1984    Inaugural Awards Ceremony - Melbourne Concert Hall Foyer (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Awards presented for Drama, Dance, Opera and Music Theatre

            Major sponsorship from Victorian Arts Centre Trust

            First Lifetime Achievement Award presented (John Sumer AO CBE)

            First New Australian Play Award presented (Gulls by Robert Hewett)

1985    2nd Awards Ceremony - Melbourne Concert Hall Foyer (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Dr John Rickard becomes President

First Technical Achievement Awardpresented (John Truscott AO)

1986    3rdAwards Ceremony - Melbourne Concert Hall Foyer (Arts Centre Melbourne)

 1987   4th Awards Ceremony - Melbourne Concert Hall Foyer (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            City of Melbourne declares Theatre Day to be the first Tuesday in February

1988    5thAwards Ceremony - Melbourne Concert Hall Foyer (Arts Centre Melbourne)

1989    6thAwards Ceremony - ANZ Pavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

1990    7thAwards Ceremony - ANZ Pavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Hugo Leschen becomes President

            New sponsorship from Victorian Health Promotion Foundation

            First Innovative Sponsorship Award presented (Rose Del Monaco)

            First Original Choreography Award presented (Felicity Macdonald – In Camera)

1991    8thAwards Ceremony - ANZ Pavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

1992    9thAwards Ceremony - ANZ Pavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            End of Victorian Health promotion Foundation sponsorship agreement

1993    10thAwards Ceremony - ANZ Pavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Blair Edgar and Steven Tandy made Life Members

            Inaugural Betty Pounder Award for Original Choreography presented

1994    11thAwards Ceremony - ANZ Pavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

Beverley Dunn becomes President

            Irene Mitchell and Lady Travers made Life Members

1995    ANZPavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Lady Tait made a Life Member

            Talk In The Green Room project commences

            Inaugural Gerda Nicolson Award (for a female actor) presented

1996    ANZPavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Pamela Ruskin and Anne Fraser made Life Members

            Judging Sub-Committees formed (Dance, Drama, Fringe, Music Theatre, Opera)

            Inaugural Fringe Theatre Awards

            Green Room Awards Trademark registered

            Innovative Sponsorship Award suspended

1997    The Playhouse (Arts Centre Melbourne)

1998    The Playhouse (Arts Centre Melbourne)

1999    The Concert Hall (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Rob Meldrum becomes President

            Inaugural Cabaret Awards

            Judging Sub-Committees expanded to include Cabaret

2000    The Playhouse (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Judging Sub-Committees become Judging Panels


2002    HerMajesty’s Theatre

            Fringe Panel expands to include Independent Theatre

            Inaugural John Truscott Design Award

2003    Chapel Off Chapel

            Inaugural Dame Joan Hammond Award for an Opera Singer with promise

2004    ANZ Pavilion (Arts Centre Melbourne)

2005    Virtual Ceremony (online)

            Final Talk In The Green Room Current Recordings


            Drama Panel becomes Theatre Companies Panel

            Fringe/Independent Theatre Panel becomes Independent & New Form Theatre Panel

2007    Fairfax Studio (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Independent & New Form Theatre Panel splits into two separate panels

            Gerda Nicolson Award suspended

2008    The Playhouse (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            New For Theatre Panel becomes Alternative & Hybrid Theatre Panel

2009    The Playhouse (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Dame Joan Hammond Award suspended

            John Truscott Design Award suspended

2010    The Playhouse (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Green Room Awards hosts the inaugural Biennial Kristian Fredrikson Design Scholarship


            Inaugural Outstanding Contribution to Cabaret Award

2012    The Playhouse (Arts Centre Melbourne)

            Arts Centre Melbourne sponsorship ends

2013    The Comedy Theatre

            Marriner Group’s sponsorship begins

            New Australian Play Award becomes Theatre Companies and Independent Theatre writing awards

2014    The Comedy Theatre

            Inaugural Shirley McKechnie Award for Choreography

            BettyPounder Award made a Music Theatre Award, Shirley McKechnie Award made a Dance Award

            Introduction of $10 Registration Fee for all shows

            Major new Sponsorship Campaign begins


            Alternative & Hybrid Performance Panel becomes Contemporary & Experimental Performance Panel

            Industry Call Out for Panel Membership EOI’s established




1993    Blair Edgar OAM (co-founder)

            Steven Tandy (co-founder)

1994    Irene Mitchell

           Lady Travers

1995    Lady ‘Viola’ Tait AM

1996    Pamela Ruskin

            Anne Fraser 

2000    Frank van Straten OAM      

2001    Paul Hammond FRAD, OAM

2008    Geoffrey Milne

2011    Dr Mark Williams

2015    Will Conyers

            Martin Croft

2016    Chris Thompson