HISTORIAN, journalist, theatre critic, performer, teacher, writer, academic and even a brief stint as a ballet dancer, David Hough can now add an Australia Day honour to his list of achievements.
The Wembley Downs resident, who was recognised for his service to the performing arts, said a passion for storytelling had always been at the forefront of his long and diverse career, which included an integral role in establishing the prestigious WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).
“In June 1981, they began to appoint staff,” he said.
“As a speech and drama lecturer, my job was to set up the institution and get the first courses off the ground.
“While it is the Hugh Jackmans and the Lucy Duracks who get the most attention, behind the curtain there are WAAPA graduates who are making their mark in the industry as stage managers and lighting technicians and designers, so I sponsor a prize, the David Hough award for Outstanding Design graduate.”
Mr Hough said WA performers stood out in the industry for their unique initiative and spark. “What amazes me is not only the extraordinary talent we have in WA, but how they get off their a— and have a go,” he said.
“I spoke to a producer in the eastern states who said what is unique about WAAPA students is their high level of energy. They are technically trained but the third thing is that they will have a go at anything.”
Since 2001, Mr Hough has contributed to the obituaries pages telling the stories of “ordinary people who led extraordinary lives” and co-authored Encore: Obituaries of 50 West Australians with Patrick Cornish.
He has also penned many non-fiction novels including the histories of His Majesty’s Theatre and the Boans Department Store.
“At 76, one of my greatest personal achievements was a feature story I wrote about Victorian Era artist Philip Goatcher and one of his paintings in the Boulder Town Hall,” he said.
“The piece galvanised people into action. The council spent $200,000 restoring the work, which is now one of the jewels in the crown of the Goldfields.”
While he was “pleased and surprised” about the recognition of his service, it was something he never lobbied for.
“If you want something badly enough, you have got to be passionate and committed to it,” he said.
“You don’t choose your art form; your art form chooses you. ”