Local thespians and academics were saddened to hear of the death of Christopher Ross-Smith OAM earlier this month.
Mr Ross-Smith, who was the foundation head of the Theatre Studies Department at University of New England and an important figure in the university's community, passed away on August 3.
A spokesperson for the University of New England (UNE) said Mr Ross-Smith will be remembered fondly for years to come for the positive influence he played at the university, and the effect he had on its students and community. He taught actors and directors over many decades on four continents and was well-respected by students for his teaching, knowledge and stewardship of theatre.
In 1974 ( when its students included Judy Davis, Steve Bisley and Mel Gibson) Mr Ross-Smith was appointed the first deputy director at NIDA. He had been invited to come to UNE to re-establish a theatre studies department in 1977, and continued until 1996. The facility became a benchmark for such departments throughout Australia.
Well-known amongst the acting fraternity in Armidale as an actor in Equus, End Game and King Lear, Mr Ross-Smith was a hands-on supporter of the arts. He helped establish a Cultural Centre in Armidale, and was its first coordinator. He also founded the Armidillos Theatre Company in 1985, and was part of a group that ran the Armidale Biennial Arts Festival for 10 years from 1978 to 1988.
Mr Ross-Smith also wrote a chapter on theatre in New England for the book High Lean Country, with his wife, Judith Ross-Smith, who attributed in the book as Judith Lamb.
In 2009 Mr Ross-Smith's service to the performing arts, and the community of the Armidale region was acknowledged when he received an OAM.
The UNE paid tribute to Mr Ross-Smith this week and said he made many contributions to the university and to Armidale.
"And for this we thank and remember him," they said.
Mr Ross-Smith is survived by his wife Judith and his two daughters Imogen and Sci from his former marriage to Astrid Blake.
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