At THA's 10th Annual General Meeting, held at the Prahran Mechanics Institute on 9 March 2019, a special presentation was made to Dr Mimi Colligan, on the occasion of her retirement from the Committee. In presenting Mimi with a Lifetime Member certificate, THA President Simon Piening spoke warmly of Mimi's contribution to the group.
Today we are saying farewell to one of our founding members.
This person has been a major part of Theatre Heritage Australia, and the Victoria Theatres Trust, as it was previously known, for almost a quarter of a century. And she has now decided that it's time to step down from the committee.
She has had an amazing career—she is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria; an Adjunct Research Fellow with the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University; a former Board Member of the International Panorama Council; and a former member of the Victorian Working Party and contributor to the Australian Dictionary of Biography. She has curated exhibitions for the Ballarat Art Gallery, the Old Treasury Museum, and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. She has written a number of books in her own right, and contributed to many many more, including Philip Parsons’ hugely important work, Companion to Theatre in Australia.
She was present at the first meetings with Evan Hercules, the founder of the Victoria Theatres Trust, when the organisation was still being conceived. She subsequently became a founding member when the organisation was formally established in 1995.
Her contribution to the organisation is huge, and it would take far too long to list all of her achievements now, but we have picked out just a few highlights.
She is a long-time contributor to On Stage and its predecessor VTT Newsletter. As co-owner of the Riley/Hailes Scrapbook (along with Frank Van Straten), she made it available as THA's first major digitisation project, and provided valuable assistance on the subsequent Biographies project. She was fundamental to the success of the JCW Scene Books project, which, as we have seen today, continues to create new projects and opportunities for the organisation. She is a former Vice President, and indeed former President of Theatre Heritage Australia between 2015–2017. As the current president, I can assure you it is my very great honour to be walking in her footsteps, even if just for a little while.
There’s a particular saying that she is fond of. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Anyone involved in any sort of research will understand exactly what she means – we are always building on the knowledge of those who have gone before us. More often than not, we can only see as far as we can, because someone else has lighted the way. But of course, giants—don’t always look like giants. Giants—come in all shapes and sizes. She might be small in stature, but make no mistake—in the field of Australian Theatre History, she is a giant. We are grateful for her contribution, not only to this organisation, but to the whole field of Australian Theatre History. She is a true pioneer, and we are honoured to count her amongst our number.
Dr Mimi Colligan we are very sad to see you leave the committee, but you remain part of our extended family. And we hope to see you often at our regular lunches.