Once Were Leaders: An evening with Max Gillies

Is Australia suffering a leadership deficit? There was a time when politicians could inspire us. But were they really better than the current crop or has our perception benefited from the passage of time? Is it a case of the more things change the more they stay the same?

Max Gillies has been a keen observer of the political combat zone for half a century. His fascination with the ups and downs of political leadership has seen him parody everyone from Hawke to Howard to Thatcher and many more. In Once Were Leaders, he goes through his extensive catalogue of works to share some of his most infamous characters.

Once Max used to apply make-up, wigs and prosthetic enhancements in order to disguise himself. He doesn’t have those items anymore. But what he has accumulated is a rich collection of pen portraits. Join Max as he shares his memories of a life spent on the fringes of power mining the archive for his favourite speeches, orations and soliloquies.

Once Were Leaders is an intimate evening with Max Gillies. You will see him up close, unmasked and witness as he explains his processes of creation of some of our most loved and hated leadership personalities.


Actor, comedian and impersonator extraordinaire, Max Gillies is renowned for his satirical impressions of Australian politicians.

Max commenced performing satires for stage and television in 1980. He is best known for his shows, such as The Gillies Report and Gillies Republic, which screened on ABC from 1983 to 1986. Since 1987, Max has appeared in a selection of serious and comic roles for theatre.

Max has created a variety of imaginary characters for corporate training videos and his comic impersonations, including Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser, John Howard, Bronwyn Bishop, Geoffrey Blainey, Graham Richardson and Jeff Kennett, which are some of the highlights of many political party launches and special events.

Adult $45
Concession/Student/Groups of 4+ $42
Subscriber* $40

Duration: approximately two hours and 15 minutes with interval.

Contains coarse language - not suitable for anyone under 15 years.

*Call us on 9243 9191 to receive the subscriber price (only available to Theatre Season subscribers)