Person - Graeme Stewart

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GRAEME ROSS STEWART (1920 - 1956)

Of interest to ASIO and regarded at NT as a physically and morally courageous "terrific bloke", Graeme Stewart made the New his family. He filled in when needed as Secretary and was NT President from 1953 until his death.

Born at Bathurst on 2 December 1920, "Tim" was one of four siblings of Presbyterian minister William Pendleton Stewart and Isobel née Gardiner. Left with a permanent disability after contracting polio, he was described by Oriel Gray as having a handsome intelligent head on a twisted body. Despite permanent heart damage he kept active. He visited all Australian New Theatre branches, went to the USSR and taught English in China. He was the NT delegate at the Bucharest World Youth Festival for world peace in 1953. Too ill to fly, he usually travelled by boat. A member of the CPA and a supporter of the Junior Eureka League of NSW, Graeme was politically in opposition to the rest of his family.

Graeme Stewart had a variety of jobs including bookie’s penciller. At the time of his death he was a reader at Newsletter Printery. He played chess with Les Tanner, was NSW chess champion and edited Chess World. He loved classical music, didn't own a radio, and was a good writer, especially of parodies. At home he wore an old dressing gown much of the time.

After his father moved to a Church retirement centre Graeme stayed on in the Hunters Hill house, sharing it with John Gray who conducted acting classes there, the students arriving by ferry and staying overnight. With Oriel Gray and John Hepworth he compiled a local newsletter (the trio were called into the CPA Head Office and reprimanded because it contained “no industrial news”). Evicted by the Presbyterian Church from the Hunters Hill house (Les Tanner carried out a beer box containing a cat and her four kittens), Graeme found temporary accommodation in an old dance hall owned by a bookie near Central Station not far from Marx House. At the time of his death he was living in a city flat in Hunter Street. Shortly after working on May Day events, Graeme Stewart died of a heart attack on 12 May 1956. He was 35. A performance of The Good Soldier Schweik was dedicated to him.

At NT Graeme directed a Workshop All Aboard 1948, a Workshop John Hepworth's Johnny Conquest 1949, performed in the revue Pot of Message 1949, played Dr Barnes in the Waiting for Lefty tribute to Edgar Yardley 1949, performed in the revue Press the Point 1950, performed in the revue Follies Bourgeois 1951, directed a revue Australian Jubilee Year for the Youth Peace Committee 1951, directed a Workshop of Bill Brown's Action Speaks Louder 1951, acted in The Germans 1952, directed a Tribune concert 1952, co-directed Christmas Bridge 1953 and acted in Mother Riba 1955.



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