Janette Crowe grew up in Uranquinty, NSW, one of three daughters of Wal and Doreen Crowe.
As an education student at the Riverina College of Advanced Education in Wagga Wagga, now Charles Sturt University, she studied drama and was very active in student revues. Her combined interest in theatre and education would define her professional career.
After a brief teacher placement in the early 1970s she returned to Wagga to play the role of Magenta in the Riverina Trucking Company's production of The Rocky Horror Show, at a time when Wagga's then vibrant theatre and music scene was nurturing a generation of actors and musicians who would go on to national and international success. She also joined a theatre-in education-company, touring shows throughout the Riverina.
In 1978 she travelled to Europe where she studied mime and movement under the tutelage of Desmond Jones, who in turn had studied in Paris with Etienne Decroux.
On returning to Australia Janette took a position as Assistant Director of the Canberra Youth Theatre, as well as performing with the Jigsaw Theatre Company.
In this period Janette's direction expanded to working with intellectually disabled people, very much influenced by her association with Aldo Gennaro, whose ground-breaking work in that field was documented in the film Stepping Out.
While in Canberra she and her husband, Bill Brown, had their first child Jake, and soon were travelling between Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne, where Bill was producing and directing shows for ABC TV.
For the birth of their second child, Django, the family returned to Wagga to be closer to family, and where Janette taught at TAFE, and also at Charles Sturt University, while Bill taught television and sound production also at Charles Sturt University.
In that period Janette completed a Masters in Education at the University of Melbourne, writing a thesis based on her evolving theatre practise with intellectually disabled performers. She developed a unique Integrated Drama approach to devising original performances with an integrated cast of intellectually disabled performers together non-disabled performers.
Janette had a sensitive and perceptive insight and ability to connect with and to draw out the creative abilities of the performers. From this she published a handbook for drama teachers to encourage more of this practise in primary schools.
The family moved to the Bega Valley in 1993 where Janette and Bill's third son, Kade, was born. Janette continued her drama practise, including taking a group of integrated drama performers to the Adelaide Fringe Festival, and to regional towns and cities.
She worked in various Bega Valley primary schools, especially Candelo, Wolumla and Tanja, creating shows that were devised and performed by the primary school students, for performance in those village halls.
A talented sportsperson all her life, she continued playing tennis and basketball. She also was a member of the Stonewave Taiko Japanese drumming group.
In 2014 Janette studied playtherapy in Ireland, and in 2018 was about to commence a doctorate at the University Melbourne, in which she would bring together the various streams of her practical experience and earlier studies.
However, in early 2018 Janette was diagnosed with a highly aggressive terminal brain cancer. After surgery she learned to walk again by applying neuroplasticity exercises that she had studied and used with intellectually disabled children. As she continued treatment to delay the inevitable, until she could no longer write, she kept notes of her observations of the neurological aberrations caused by a series of developing brain tumours.
With the loving support of her family she approached the final fourteen months of her life with strength, grace, and humour as a new challenge to meet head-on, and from which to gain deeper insights. As her body failed she maintained her wit, creativity, and insight, and her love for family and friends.
Her life will be celebrated with a wake in Kameruka Hall on Friday, April 26, 1.30pm.