Degree Name

Master of Creative Arts


School of the Arts, English and Media


This thesis documents and analyses the process of making a new performance work called The Inventorists, by Julia Cotton working in collaboration with Russell Garbutt. The Inventorists forms the practical component of the Master of Creative Arts – Research degree (MCA-R). The creative research seeks to demonstrate strategies for generating performance material through improvisation, building on a long-term collaborative process, and drawing on the very different art form backgrounds of each performer, which encompasses ballet, clowning, community theatre and illusion. The Inventorists asks what strategies can artists put in place to create a ‘theatre of mixed means’, which is both communicable to a broad audience, and being experienced in alternative performance spaces, accessible. It also seeks to assess the contemporary relevance of strategies initiated in the early eighties and to ask whether this form of ‘visual’ theatre is still relevant today.

The supporting exegetical research paper seeks to contextualise this visual and physical performance work through a critical discussion of the work of Etcetera Theatre Company (1983 – 1999), of which Cotton and Garbutt were founding members. It does so by briefly exploring the cultural context of Australia during the 1980s, particularly in Adelaide, where Etcetera was formed. It examines the creative process of Etcetera in the context of both past and current practice in order to explore the role of choreography in physical performance, the generation of new material through improvisation, the recycling of existing material and what it means to perform in public spaces. It concludes with a discussion of the process of making the new performance work The Inventorists, and how the work of Etcetera has evolved in the intervening years.