Person - Roger Milliss

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Roger acted and directed at NT 1956-71, was NT President 1968-9, adjudicated Workshop, and was a reliable attendee at meetings. He joined NT in June 1956 with his friend Hugh Mason and made his acting debut in two small roles in The Good Soldier Schweik followed by Under the Coolibah Tree. One night during the 1957 run of Nekrassov he played Brian Vicary’s role as well as his own, changing makeup several times, after Brian’s car broke down. He understudied Brian as John Proctor in The Crucible but never got to play the part. Roger was in the 1957 revue TV Or Not TV, Black Diamonds 1958, and played the thoroughly crude Harvey Crane in No Strings Attached 1958. He demonstrated enjoyable clowning in the 1959 revue Fission Chips, directed Reedy River 1960, was in Lawson and The Drums of Father Ned in 1961, co directed and played Johnny the lead in Sandhog 1962, was assistant director on The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window 1966,and directed On Stage Vietnam 1967. In 1968 he directed Postmark Zero , acted in America Hurrah!, and directed Going, Going, Gone. In 1969 he acted in Troilus and Cressida, and was reviewed as the best performer in the 1970 revue Exposure 70. Roger also performed in Contact street theatre. He had a strong sense of theatricality and often criticised NT's policy of putting on plays that were politically correct but dramatically wooden.

Born in Katoomba NSW in January 1934, Roger graduated BA from Sydney University in 1955 and Dip Ed from Sydney Teachers' College in 1956. He taught English and Drama in Sydney and was on the staff of Wagga Teachers College 1960-1. In 1962 he and Suse Wolf attended the Youth Festival at Helsinki. They married in Moscow where Roger worked as a sub-editor on the Moscow News. From 1965-66 he worked in Nairobi as editor of the Pan Africa and travelled through other parts of East Africa. After returning to Sydney, he was a sub-editor and feature writer and theatre reviewer for Tribune (1966-70) and casual sub-editor on the TV Times (1969-70), Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald (1979-82).

A CPA member from 1956 until it disbanded in 1991, Roger was Secretary in 1958 of the NT CPA fraction, and a member of the CPA Media Branch in the early 1970s. Of interest to ASIO, he was the subject of many agents' reports and was one of the four (another was Frank Hardy) Persons of Interest documentary series screened on SBS Television in 2013.

Milliss' published works include City on the Peel (1980), The Wallabadah manuscript (1980), the autobiographical Serpent's Tooth (1984) and Waterloo Creek (1992). He was also the author of film and television scripts. In 1990 Roger Milliss was awarded a Harold White Fellowship by the National Library. He worked on the diary of Lady Franklin (NLA MS 114).

After splitting with his wife, he was in a long-term relationship with publisher and literary agent Rosemary Creswell until her death in 2017. His close friends included poet Denis Kevans and playwright Richard Beynon.

Roger Milliss' papers are held by the National Library of Australia.

See also David Milliss.

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