Class of 1957

Geoffrey Gibbs is one of the fathers of Performing Arts in Western Australia. He grew up in Kalgoorlie where his father was a miner. Geoff was a phenomenally talented actor of stage and screen, director, producer, teacher and director of one of Australia’s greatest performing arts schools.

His own acting talent first showed on the Aquinas stage in his portrayal of Goneril, one of the three daughters in King Lear. In 1957, his leaving year, Geoff received a Distinction for “Art of Speech”. As a boarder, Geoff loved the combination of sport and arts that Aquinas College offered and thrived whilst at the school. On leaving the school, he went to Graylands Teachers’ College and completed his teaching degree. He moved to Merredin to teach. This is where he met his wife, Carole. They eventually moved back to Perth with their young family, Paige, Ashleigh and Nathan so Geoff could study at the Western Australian Institute of Technology.

During this time, Geoff held down three jobs, whilst performing five nights a week and rehearsing for the next show he was directing. He was always a force of nature. He eventually moved to Claremont Teachers College where he headed up the Drama department. Geoff was keen to continue his studies, so he and the family relocated to Columbus Ohio where Geoff completed his PhD in Drama in Education at Ohio State University. It was here that he played his favourite role - King Lear.

Returning to Perth in 1980, Geoff helped establish the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). As founding Dean of Acting, Geoff taught some of the country’s most talented actors: including Hugh Jackman, Frances O’Connor, Dominic Purcell, Lisa McCune, Marcus Graham and William McInnes. In 2002, Geoff was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the performing arts through the establishment, development and promotion of WAAPA.

On his death in 2006, WAAPA renamed the main theatre in his name. Hugh Jackman made a special trip to Australia to honour his teacher for the occasion. His colleagues at Ohio State planted a tree and erected a plaque in loving memory of him. Geoff was a wonderful example of what gifts a well-rounded education can bestow. He was quick-witted, creative, academic and generous. He loved being a teacher as much as he loved treading the boards. Thankfully, both served him remarkably well.