James studied Classics and Theology at Melbourne, Dublin, Cambridge and Princeton Universities and taught at Princeton, Bryn Mawr and Melbourne.
Returning to Melbourne University to teach, he staged Greek and other forms of theatre, moving between the teaching of Classics and the Performing Arts. He created contemporary productions of the Oresteian Trilogy of Aeschylus, the Bacchae of Euripides and Waiting for Godot at Melbourne’s Pram Factory Theatre. While at the University of Melbourne, he created a new drama course.
He moved to Geelong to found the Performing Arts Major at Deakin University. Using a former wool mill as home base, he established the Mill Theatre, a company dedicated to creating theatre that related to and engaged the local community. At The Mill he created participatory events and plays based on incidents in local history, while exploring the language of performance. The company created new plays and new versions of old plays.
Since returning to Melbourne James has created performances and nurtured the environment of performance. He has played a key role in the founding and development of the Gasworks Arts Park.
James now works in solo performance in association with instrumentalist, Matthew Horsley.
11-8-41, Belfast, N. Ireland
Homer Prepares, sequences 1-4, 2014–2020
Vlad and Me, Conversation with the Soul about Reincarnation and other Inconveniences, 2019
Conversations with the Gods about their Deaths and other Matters, 2014–2015
Plays directed (select list)
Ostrovsky The Scoundrel that you Need, The Gasworks Theatre
Ostrovsky The Forest, Victorian College of the Arts
Christina Hindhaugh Blackwood 150, History of a pastoral property in Western Victoria, 1981
Matebian Nia Lian (Voices of Souls) devised with the Timorese Cultural Group, in association with Madeleine Blackwell, Theatreworks Melbourne, 1980
Sophocles, Antigone, translated by Julianne Obrien, The Playbox Theatre, Melbourne, 1986
With Julianne O’Brien In Male Attire Playbox Theatre Company, 1986
Hannie Rayson Leave it till Monday, The Geelong Performing Arts Centre, 1984
Chekhov The Cherry Orchard, The Mill Theatre, Geelong, 1984
Brecht The Exception and the Rule schools’ touring show
The Clyde Company Papers, The Mill Theatre, Geelong, 1981
The Cat that Bit the Moon children’s show
The Burning of Bentleigh’s Hotel, The Mill Theatre, Geelong, 1979
Brecht The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Mill Theatre, Geelong, 1979
Jarry Ubu Roi, The Mill Theatre, Geelong, 1978
Euripides Trojan Woman, The Mill Theatre, Geelong, 1978
The Wool Game, The Mill Theatre, Geelong, 1978
Finger to the Trigger, La Mama Theatre, Melbourne
Beckett Waiting for Godot The Pram Factory, Melbourne, 1975
Brecht Baal The Pram Factory, Melbourne, 1976
So Many of them Aren’t, The Guild Theatre, University of Melbourne, 1974
Aeschylus The Oresteian Trilogy The Pram Factory, Melbourne, 1974
(translated by Rush Rehm, Hawthorn Press, Melbourne)
Euripides/Racine The Hippolytus Project, Prince Philip Theatre, Melbourne
Euripides Bacchae The Pram Factory, Melbourne, 1970
Euripides Alcestis Princeton University and Bryn Mawr College, 1969
Euripides Helen, Princeton University, 1968
“Talking about Greek tragedy” Ramus, 1, 1972.
“Shadows of the past: two historical plays” Nation, 330, 1971.
“Jack Hibberd and popular theatre”, Meanjin, 35, 1976.
“Australian theatre: beyond experimentalism” Meanjin, 41, 1982.
“Bodies of opinion” New Theatre Australia, 6, 1988.
Event for opera singer and dancers – with Jessica Aszodi. Gasworks Theatre
Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos The Victorian Opera. Victorian Arts Centre
The First Eleven – Documentary concerning first Australian cricket team to tour England, made up entirely of aboriginal players. Winner, Multimedia section, Victorian Community History Awards, 2004.
2012 – Writing, devising and performing solo performances
1986–1999 Theatre director and arts consultant
1978–1984 Director, The Mill Theatre, Geelong
1974–1976 Director, Theatre Projects, Melbourne
1969–1973 Director, Greek Theatre Project, Melbourne
Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Melbourne 2016
M. Litt. (Classical Greek) Trinity College, Dublin 1965–1966
M.A. (Divinity) Pembroke College, Cambridge 1963–1965
B.A. (Classical Studies) University of Melbourne 1959–1962
2005–2006 Visiting teacher in Arts and Cultural Policy, School of Management, University of South Australia
2004 Lecturer in Theatre Making, School of Drama, V.C.A
1994–1998 Lecturer in Writing (Part-time), School of Drama, Victorian College of the Arts
1977–1984 Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts, Deakin University, Geelong
1975–1976 Director, Interdepartmental Program in Drama, University of Melbourne
1969–1976 Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, Classical Studies, University of Melbourne
1968–1969 Lecturer, Ancient Greek, Bryn Mawr College
1967–1968 Instructor, Classical Studies, Princeton University
1988–2018 Chair, Gasworks Park Committee of Management
1998–2004 Cultural Programs Board, City of Port Phillip
1998 Consultancy Review Committee,Victorian College of the Arts
1991–2004 Board member, Danceworks
1982–1984 Member, Theatre Board, Australia Council
Victorian Community History Award, Multimedia, 2004
Proctor Visiting Fellowship, Princeton University, 1966-1967
Foundation Scholar, Pembroke College, Cambridge, 1965
Shell Post-Graduate Scholarship, 1963-1966