Phil was born in Melbourne, grew up at St Kilda beach and the Junction Oval, and shared his development between the museum and the upper circles of Melbourne’s grand theatres. He initially aimed for applied physics, but missed.
When he graduated from the National Theatre in Melbourne in ‘79, he was already working in theatre-in-education; writing, acting, composing & directing. In the 80s, he also performed with the Victoria State Opera Schools Tour, Ars Nova early music group, and as a storyteller with the Folkloric Theatre Company. Later, he spent 3 years in an astronomy show with the CSIRO Double Helix touring troupe, taking the opportunity to delight primary school kids with elements of postgraduate astrophysics.
Much of his work (& most of his non-work) has been in theatre-in-education, including, in the 80s, the writing & performing of plays & musicals (for children) with his late brother, Evan (an opera singer for many years with VSO & AO). In recent years, he’s taken Shakespeare & other great playwrights to schools, but has frequently neglected to bring them back.
In this millenium, the swag of independent theatre productions in which he’s appeared include Sleuth (as Andrew Wyke), Freedom of the City (The Judge), Hamlet (variously, Claudius & Polonius), Romeo & Juliet (Friar Lawrence in one production & Juliet’s Nurse in another), The Tempest (Prospero), Oedipus (Sigmund Freud), Cosi (variously Henry or Roy), Notes From the Warsaw Ghetto (Rabbi Simon), Macbeth (Duncan/The Porter) & Under Milk Wood (Captain Cat/Mr Pugh/Waldo).
In 2005 he was heard as George Bernard Shaw in Shaw: The Music Critic for 3MBS, and as both Shaw & John Ruskin in a series on critics for the Sunday Arts program on Radio National. He was also honoured to appear on his son Lee’s ABCTV program, The Bazura Project, with a libellous portrayal of H G Wells. In 2014, he was the narrator for the Snowgum Films production of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Troll Bridge, and in an episode of the SF comedy podcast, Night Terrace, played the robotic Hitlers.
When young, Phil & his brother were taken by their mother to see the great Emlyn Williams present the Dickens Readings. After Phil became theatrically entangled, his mother, a great fan of Dickens, suggested that he should perform them. Much later, in 2003, after encouragement from Simon Callow & the invaluable involvement of theatrical friends, he stepped onto the stage in the show for which he’s now best known; his one-man performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’, which he’s performed widely (or narrowly, depending on the size of the stage), not only at the Melbourne Athenaeum but in many places around this planet, including Shanghai, Malaysia, two NZ opera houses, a London stand-up comedy venue, a Hamburg farmhouse, a Sarajevo cinema & a broom closet halfway up a staircase in Montmartre.