History of the CSPT Inc.


Barbara Sisley

Barbara Sisley

Then first meeting of the Art of Speech Association was held on Wednesday 28th June, 1939 in the Lecture Hall of The Teachers’ Training College, Turbot Street, Brisbane at 8pm. The first president was L.D. Edwards (Director of Education). Council members included Barbara Sisley, Jean Trundle, Clare Clark, Hilda Hastie, Harry Borrodale and Kevin Gunn. There were two secretaries; V. Scanlan and Maibry Wragge.

L.D. Edwards

L.D. Edwards

Meetings were very formal occasions with a program that included verse speaking, music performances, lectures, papers and discussions on matters of interest to members. Those who attended the meetings wanted to extend their knowledge and appreciation of literature and to advance their understanding of their own craft and profession. The program for the first meeting included the following epigraph;

“No one thing mars or makes a man as his manner of speech”
Ben Jonson

Treasury Building, Brisbane

Treasury Building, Brisbane

Meetings were held in various venues including The Lord Mayor’s Reception Room in Brisbane Town Hall and the Treasury Building from 1941–44. In 1940, the   first printed syllabus appeared that outlined the program for each meeting for the year. The emphasis of these programs was on literature, poetry speaking and aspects of speech teaching.

Art of Speech Association Syllabus 1946

Art of Speech Association Syllabus 1946

The cover of each syllabus until 1949 featured the epigraph – “Then lend to thy words of the Poet the beauty of thy voice.” (Longfellow)


Rhoda Felgate

Rhoda Felgate

In 1951, ARTA became the QASA (the Queensland Art of Speech Association). The post war period saw several public performances of plays by the Association (for example Euripedes’ Iphegina in Tauris produced by Rhoda Felgate in the Albert Hall and Through the Eyes of the Poet,

a collaboration with the Guild of Australian Composers held in the Lord Mayor’s reception rooms. Each year the Association continued to present public recitals of poetry. In 1958 the first honorary life membership was accorded to Maibry Wragge.


Marcia McCallum

Marcia McCallum

In 1963, Marcia McCallum, with the assistance of other enthusiastic and committed Speech and Drama teachers, began touring presentations of poetry around Queensland schools. This was a unique initiative paving the way for other arts in education programs. Each student paid two shillings to the Association to attend. The funds were subsequently used to purchase Commonwealth bonds, the interest from which assured the financial stability of the Association.


In 1970, the year of the Captain Cook Bicentenary, Marcia McCallum led the organisation of “The Endeavour Recital.”

Opening night was held on 19th June at Centenary Hall, Brisbane Grammar School. This was a celebration of 200 years of Australian poetry and included performances from many talented members of the Association as well as other actors, musicians and poets such as John Blight, John Manifold and Thomas Shapcott. All collaborated to produce a dynamic evening of entertainment.

Centenary Hall, Brisbane Boys’ Grammar School

Centenary Hall, Brisbane Boys’ Grammar

The 1970’s was a time of change for arts education in Queensland with Speech and Drama becoming a board subject within secondary schools. Many members of the Association were involved in this evolution, including Bette Tipper who became State Chairman for Speech and Drama on the Board of Secondary Schools Studies, Queensland. Around this time the Association was renamed, The Speech and Drama Teachers’ Association of Queensland Inc. The clear aims of the Association continued; to provide collegiality, advocacy and training for Speech and Drama teachers, and to maintain a registry of qualified and experienced Speech and Drama teachers both from the classroom and the private studio. The SDTAQ Inc. adopted a new epigraph:

Language most shows a man;
Speak, that I may see thee.
Ben Jonson

Rhoda Felgate Lectures

In 1974 the first lecture was delivered honouring Rhoda Felgate, who had been a speech and drama teacher for 50 years. These lectures often featured Australian and international poets, playwrights and directors. The Felgate Lecturers have featured writers such as Gwen Harwood, Les Murray, Rosemary Dobson, Colin Thiele, Ray Lawler, A.D. Hope and Phillip Adams.

Also In 1970…

The very first Newsletter was published. This publication was subsequently renamed The Quarterly Voice and featured a new logo.

The Quarterly Voice

The Quarterly Voice

The president at the time was Marcia McCallum and the first editor was Jackie Kneeshaw.

Meeting venues during the early years included:

The Lyceum Club, Queen Street; Twelfth Night Theatre, Wickham Terrace; Brisbane Womens’ Club, Albert Street; Gowrie Studios, St Paul’s Terrace; Education Centre, Boundary Street; Catholic Education Centre, Edward Street.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


In 1980 an innovative and valuable service was provided for members and the general public alike; The SDTAQ Inc. Referral Service. Eve Hanson was the first Referral Officer and recommended many members to students searching for teachers of speech and drama in their local area. Auriol Luck succeeded Eve Hanson in this role (taking on the roles of Publications Officer and Secretary for a time). Innovative performances were a distinctive feature of the 80’s. Blanche Lather inspired the presentation of Stump Grape and Bobble-Nut for the Warana Festival and in1988 June Finney and Jillian Clare coordinated the successful, Bicentenary Recital.


Presidents in the 90’s included Maggie Lovejoy, Beverley Wood, Jillian Clare, June Finney and Vicki Fuller. The 90’s featured many teacher-training workshops in areas such as improvisation, choral speaking, clowning, voice and microphone technique. Of particular note were workshops delivered by Bill Pepper on Accents and in 1993 John Bell delivered, Shakespeare in Performance. One of the most well-attended Rhoda Felgate Lectures ever was conducted by Phillip Adams at Red Chamber, Parliament House. The Quarterly Voice featured many valuable articles on teaching strategies. In 1999 the Association’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated at Customs House, Brisbane.


In 2001, three annual teaching scholarships were established (the Marcia McCallum and Therese D’Arcy Student Teacher Scholarships, the Rhoda Felgate Memorial Teacher Scholarship.) Awardees include, Stephen Robinson, Mary Edwards, Karen Wighton, Sally Symonds, Bryanne Jardine, Rowena Luck-Geary, Rosanna Isbell, Maggie Shepherd and David Cockburn.

2000 and onwards

Presidents since the year 2000 have included Vicki Fuller, June Finney, Stephen Robinson, David Cockburn, Pam Greatorix and Annette Stoddart. Since the millennium the Association has continued to adapt to the changing needs of membership providing group public liability insurance and a website (est. 2007) to promote the Association to the public, and provide members with a means to communicate ‘online’. Members were also provided with informative, detailed and useful articles in the Quarterly Voice under Stephen Robinson’s editorship (the TOP TIPs series being extremely well received.) The New Teachers’ Support Group was well-attended for a time. The Roemermann Wragge Awards were celebrated for a number of years by competitions showcasing communication skills. A review of the Association’s name and the Constitution was conducted in 2009 and again in 2015. At the Annual General Meeting 2015, members voted on a change of name of the Association to Communication, Speech and Performance Teachers Inc. The rationale being that this name best reflects the membership and the direction of members’ teaching practice now and into the future.

Patrons of the SDTAQ Inc. and CSPT Inc.Dr L.D Edwards, 1948-1956; Rhoda Felgate MBE, OAM, 1957-1963, 1973-1979Sir Herbert Watkin, 1964-1966; Kevin Siddell OAM, 1980-2004Dr Bruce Dawe AO, 2005-2020; Roly Sussex OAM 2020 to present.

Some more Association Highlights

1963 The Poetry of Henry Lawson, Albert Hall, Brisbane

1967 The first annual seminar coordinated by Win Colvin and Molly Woodward entitled “Speech Education and Method”

1974 Rhoda Felgate Lectureships established

1988 An Evening with Dylan Thomas coordinated by Jillian Clare and June Finney

1997 Twenty Prose Writers of 20th Century coordinated by Nata Antonieff and Jillian Clare

2000 The Diamond Jubilee Playwriting Competition was awarded to Jack Feldstein for A House Like Any Other

2001 Dr Walter Wood Lecture: The Anatomy of Respiration and Voice Production

2002 Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Eisteddfods – But Were Too Afraid to Ask! conducted by Stephen Robinson

2006 Battering the Bard, by Ron Finney

2008 Choral Speaking Workshop conducted by Marie Nielsen

2009 Eight day Voice, Text and Performance Workshop with Barbara Houseman

2009 70th Anniversary Commemorative DVD – featuring life members of the Association

2010 Portrait of a Poet; Celebrating the 80th birthday of Patron, Dr Bruce Dawe, OAM

2014 Memories and Moments; Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the SDTAQ Inc. featuring guest speaker, Jennifer Flowers

2018 Children’s Stories and Picture Books Special Presentation co-ordinated by David Cockburn, Pam Greatorix and Rowena Luck-Geary

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Objectives of the Association highlighted on the cover of The Quarterly Voice, February, 1991

The objectives of the Association are primarily to maintain a high standard of speech and drama and to foster, encourage and develop fraternity and cooperation between teachers of, and other persons interested and involved in, speech an drama in Queensland and elsewhere.

Honorary Life Members of  the Association since 1939

Maibry Wragge (1958)

Rhoda Felgate MBE, OAM (1965)

Marcia McCallum (1970)

Clare Clarke (1971)

Therese D’Arcy OAM (1971)

Daphne Roemermann OAM (1971)

Molly Woodward (1971)

Eunice Cornish (1985)

Eve Hanson (1985)

Blanche Lather (1994)

Joan Ross (1996)

Fay Muir (1998)

Beverley Langford (1998)

Deslye Kruck (1999)

Margaret Charles OAM (1999)

June Finney (2004)

Jillian Clare (2006)

Beres Turner OAM (2006)

Patsy McCarthy (2007)

Auriol Luck (2007)

Rowena Luck-Geary (2015)

Stephen Robinson (2016)

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