1952 – 2016
George Blazevic was a Northbridge identity. For much of his life, it’s where he lived, wrote, read profusely, and debated issues in politics and history to the beats of his eclectic music collection, often till the early hours. His quick wit, extraordinary general knowledge and his nuance for language and tone made him a lot of friends and many admirers. He posed direct questions and held a penetrating stare while waiting for a counter argument that often never came. Blaz was both a raconteur and a provocateur, deliberately confronting audience – whether in a Perth theatre, a Maylands cafe or around his Highgate kitchen table – questioning assumptions or offering new perspectives on his favourite topics.
Born and raised in Perth, George completed his studies in Literature at UWA and worked as a journalist with the West Australian, News Corp and on-air with ABC TV. George completed film work for WAAPA, productions for the corporate sector, edited scripts for documentaries, he worked with the Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission and the WA Arts Council and judged Fringe World Performances.
As a writer, he pursued two fields of interest: American political history and migration, focusing particularly on the experiences of post-war Croatian migrants, such as his own parents.
Among his literary accomplishments were: One Night, One Time in America which he wrote and performed for Perth’s Artrage in 1989; in 1993 he wrote the much-acclaimed contemporary opera, Giles, is That You?, based on the explorer, Ernest Giles. In 1996, he wrote Grind Core, a play set on the Croatian-Bosnian border during the Homeland War, and in 2003, he co-wrote The Shadow of the Eagle which depicted the critical 1942 meeting between Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin and American General, Douglas MacArthur.
George was the first Australian-Croatian to be granted an Australia Council literary grant to make connections with the Croatian National Theatre. His work led to the creation of Nevesinjska 17, first performed in Fremantle in 1996 and which Deckchair Theatre performed in Zagreb, Osijek, Pula, Dubrovnik, and Sarajevo in 1999 as part of the Sydney Olympics Global Cultural Program. The play led to a collaboration between the Perth Theatre Company and the Croatian National Theatre in George’s co-adaptation of the Croatian play, The Corporal’s Wife (Kaplarova Žena), performed at the 2003 Perth International Arts Festival.
Much of George’s inspiration came from his mother, Đurđica (Georgia) an accomplished academic and linguist who encouraged George and his sister, Klara, to pursue higher education. Đurđica was an academic in her native Zagreb. George’s father, Ivan (John), was born in Kostajnica, a small town on the Una River on the Bosnian border. The couple came to Perth in 1949, found employment, established themselves, and worked within the post-war Croatian community in raising funds for the planning and building of the Croatian Community Centre in North Fremantle.
George died of pancreatic cancer in February 2016. Blazevic Lane in Highgate was named in his honour and his legacy in Perth’s arts scene remains in The Blaz, an annual Fringe Festival award for the Best Writing for Stage by a WA Writer, inaugurated by festival organisers, just weeks after Blaz’s passing.
Lino Franich with assistance from George’s daughter, Georgia Blazevic