Dimboola â€” Film Googie Withers returns Bruce Myles
Wagstaff Actor Producer
Nationwide Reviews including film, ballet, opera, records, books; National Guide.
Miller Just the Ticket
Nimrod Theatre 500 Elizabeth St Surry Hills NSW 2010
Until Sunday 26 November Nimrod Upstairs
director Richard W herrett designer Larry Eastw ood Lou Brown, B randon Burke, Tom Farley, Gillian Jones, M argo Lee, roung
Until Sunday 19 November Nimrod Downstairs
devised by Robyn Archer directed by Ken Horler design by Martin Sharp Robyn Archer, Jo h n G aden, S haron Raschke, Jerry W esley
From Saturday 25 November Nimrod Downstairs
David Allen directed by Richard W herrett designed by A nthony Babicci T erence Clarke, Drew Forsythe, Henri Szeps, Kerry W alker
From Saturday 2 December Nimrod Upstairs Tom S toppard directed by Ken Horler designed by Larry Eastw ood Jo h n G aden, Barry Lovett, W alter Pym , G eraldine Turner, G eorge W haley Nimrod Street Theatre Company Limited. Artistic Directors: John Bell, Ken Horler, Richard Wherrett. General Manager: Paul lies
Theatre Australia Volume 3 No. 4
Jack Hibberd on Dimboola play to film. P.13
2 3 6 7 8 58
Comment Quotes and Queries Noises Off Whispers, Rumours and Facts Letters Guide — Theatre, Opera, Dance
9 9 10 10 10
Producer’s Day — Stuart Wagstaff talks to Barry Eaton. Harry Miller’s Computicket — Brad Keeling Zygmunt Molik — interviewed by Jeremy Ridgman Myle Stones — Pamela Ruskin on Bruce Myles WA Playwright problems — Katharine Brisbane
13 16 19
Dimboola — Jack Hibberd Googie Withers — Ray Stanley New Theatre Movement — Part 2, Mona Brand
Playscript International Dance
Gone with Hardy — Act I, David Allen
The New York City Ballet — William Shoubridge
Ballet 78 — William Shoubridge Australian Ballet — Alan Brissenden Australian Dance Theatre — Alan Brissenden The New York City Ballet — William Shoubridge
Problem month for A O: Seymour and UNSW successes — David Gyger.
Theatre Reviews 21
VIC Gone with Hardy — Raymond Stanley The Masters — Raymond Stanley Dreamers o f the Absolute — V 1 Richards The Emigrants — Jack Hibberd
NSW Bedroom Farce — Greg Curran The Club: Sisters — Adrian Wintle Entertaining Mr Sloane: An evening with Adolph Hitler — Tony Barclay Night o f the Iguana: Widowers Houses — Robert Page The Waltz o f the Toreadors — Lucy Wagner Richard II — Katharine Brisbane Keep on Truckin 'Francesca — Cliff Gillam Between the Lines — Collin O’Brien
SA The Servant of Two Masters — Michael Morley
QLD The Ancient Mariner: Oedipus at Colonus — Veronica Kelly King Richard: Dry Run — Richard Fotheringham The Cherry Orchard — Jeremy Ridgman
ACT Lunchtime Season — Marguerite Wells Flextime — Roger Pulvers The Last Tasmanian — Elizabeth Riddell Film Australia — Rozamund Waring
Greekfor actors — Suzanne Spunner Culturefor the people — John McCallum
Thespia’s Crossword No.5
Googie Withers returns to Australia.
Play: David Allen’s Gone with Hardy. P.39
Seven page Dance Special begins P. 45.
Film Review. The Last Tasmanian.
T lie a lre A u s tr a lia Editor: Executive Editor: Manager: Artist:
Robert Page Lucy W agner Brad Keeling Henry Cho
Subsidy for dreams... Everyone agrees that somehow the artists should come first. After all it is the fruit of their creative ability which audiences acclaim, and posterity recognises as characterising our age, and judges it by. But how to let our genii out of the bottle? The Australia Council Theatre Board has recognised that despite its high sounding principles it has more and more become just a paymaster and one increasingly of top-heavy administrative juggernauts. Rather like the Catch 22 of being in the union before you get the job, and having to have the job before you can join the union, many an artist has been excluded for not having the administrator’s ability to quantify his dreams in the requisite quintuplicate. And so the big companies have had an in-built advantage with the result of an expansion of the existing rather than encouragement of the new. The Theatre Board did keep an amount supposedly separate under the heading Special Projects — an umbrella term for “the rest”; all those companies which didn’t get in in time to be established as an ongoing commitment. Thus for this league the result of the annual application became a matter of life or death with the competition steadily increasing. On the other hand as inflation hit without a corresponding rise in federal funds the (necessarily) smaller groups saw their grant pool diminish to keep leeway for the established fleet. In the past three years, for instance, whilst the big companies have been asking lor at least an indexed increase, the Council has been trying to cope with only half the inflationary increase of its funds and thus a decline in real terms. What can the artist do faced with such cold economic facts? Two recent events and a new initiative bespeak a change in federal thinking. The first was the decision to withdraw funds from the Old Tote — suggesting that the Council would no longer merely dole out ever increasing amounts for companies offering less and less artistic return for greater and greater administrative expenditure. Their privately held view that had Bell’s terms been accepted funding would have gone ahead suggests further that the Council is now convinced of the primacy of artistic control. This was endorsed by their decision to back Paris, blatantly and boldly a company of artists for artists, despite its questionable practicability as an ongoing operation. Now comes the new initiative which seeks both to give the creators the backing to try out their ideas without becoming embroiled in company structures and at the same time provide flexibility in what looks like a steady state situation and a devolving one at that. • The idea is to give substantial sums (up to $100,000 pa) to professionals, or groups of professionals, who wish to embark on an innovative or developmental programme of up to two years duration. Limited Life — as the programme is called — offers several advantages. First of all the subsidies are to be administered by an existing 2
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
arts organisation for which a three per cent fee will be payed. This should ensure that the administrators have no power to cork the creative bottle nor any danger of a new structure being created which may try to perpetuate itself. Limited time allows artists to take leave of absence from existing commitments and not only explore possibilities otherwise denied to them but also to return, personally enriched, with new ideas and vitality for mainstream activities; what the Board in its economic jargonese calls “investment renewal based on personnel and product development”. Though projects may be significant income earners the concept is that total costs will be underwritten, with grants payments being reduced only by income actually achieved. This on the one hand frees artists from concern with box office goals and on the other ensures that the projects can be fully implemented so long as original budgetted expenditure is kept to. Bob Adams the Director of the Theatre Board sees the scheme as encouraging everything from a beyond-Artaud multi-media total theatre, to a Brook-in-Africa type group to take drama to the outback (and discover its essence?) — though at this stage no one wants to be too specific for fear of limiting the range of ideas put forward. But any project backed by well established professionals and bringing together the disparate areas of interest of the Board, dance, drama and puppetry, would, one assumes, have to be a front runner. Though an application has been put before the government for special funding it seems unlikely that it will be successful. If so the money to pay for it will have to be drawn from across the board (excuse the pun). We have been assured that this will not be a case of the Special Projects' depleted coffers being raided again, but it does mean that any proposals under the Limited Life Programme will be competitive with all other Theatre Board considerations. The idea, then, is to give grants for profes sionals to realise their dreams in the hope that if nothing else a generally invigorating effect will be felt throughout the performing arts. Certainly the Theatre Board, despite the subsidy spiral which so many of the major companies seemed locked into, is not looking to box office returns as a measure of success. It genuinely seems as if here the right to fail will be paramount. Enquiries about riding high on cloud nine with a government grant should be made to the Australia Council. And meanwhile the rest of us should begin lobbying our MPs to increase government spending on the arts, and reduce the need for such schemes within an otherwise depressing situation; after all someone still has to lose out even for Limited Life to happen. Let's get to it.
John Bell, Graeme Elundell, Ellen Braye, Katharine Brisbane, Vivian Chalwyn, Gordon Chater, John Clark, Michael Crosby, W.A. Enright, Jack Hibberd, Ken Horler, Garrie Hutchinson, Robert Jordan, Philip Mason, Stan Marks, Jake Newby, Phil Noyce, Raymond Omodei, Philip Parsons, Diana Sharpe, Ken Southgate, Raymond Stanley, Elizabeth Sweeting, Marlis Thiersch, John Timlin, Tony Trench, Guthrie Worby, Richard Wherrett. Advertising:
Manager and Co-ordinator: Brad Keeling Adelaide: Melbourne: Sydney: Brisbane: Media
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Editors (049) 67-4470 Raymond Stanley (03) 419-1 204 Don Batchelor (07) 269-3018 Joan Ambrose (09) 299-6639 Michael Morley (08) 275-2204
Theatre Australia gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Australia Council, the Literature Board of the Australia Council, the New South Wales Cultural Grants Board, the Arts Grants Advisory Committee of South Australia, the Queensland Cultural Activities Department, the Victorian Ministry of the Arts, The Western Australian Arts Council and the Assistance of the University of Newcastle. Manuscripts:
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Isla Blair and musicians. From Perth they will go on to Melbourne for a few days, Adelaide for another few days, Sydney for a week and finishing up at Canberra. The whole thing will last for about five weeks.”
MITCHELL AT THE PRAM J O H N T IM L IN
Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn. Photo: Victor Forstmann
“We’re hoping Warren Mitchell will be coming to do some work at the Pram Factory at the beginning of next year. The first show we plan to do is the Pam Gems (Dusa Fish Stas and Vi) show, Franz Into April. It’s not absolutely definite yet because when it was originally done at the ICA in London it only ran for an hour, ten: she’s written another twenty five minutes to make it full length, but neither we nor Warren have yet seen the rewrites. Hopefully the show will be mounted by our entrepreneurial arm, Pram Factory Productions, to open at an as yet unnamed venue in Melbourne and then have a six to eight week tour. Warren Mitchell will play Franz, and we hope to draw the rest of the cast from the APG.
get these days and it s a little slower than we hoped. It will run to the end of the year, then architects will be submitting plans and we hope building will start in about eighteen months. We have purchased the site — behind the Victorian Arts Centre — which is a big step, and things will go ahead one way or another. Whatever amount we have will supplement our normal income. We are one of the few theatre enterprises that is doing well; this year we've played more than 200 performances to over 90% houses, and we do keep over 300 people (dancers, orchestra and backstage crew) gainfully employed in theatre. The Governments have been very generous too; the Federal Government has offered up to %/i million dollar for dollar with state donations; the Victorian Government has offered up to $1 million dollar for dollar with donations within the state; the Queensland Government has done the same up to $25 thousand, and we’re waiting to hear from the others.”
WORLD’S BIGGEST FREE ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME
P E T E R W IL L IA M S
“It has been absolutely marvellous, we had seven hundred in the audience on the second night and our advance bookings have been over whelming, there are twelve thousand seats booked already from advance party bookings. The only thing I would like to know is how on earth these party booking people do it. If I knew I'd be a millionaire. We have had only the one catasirophy, it was when Carmen Duncan pulled her back out. You see in the play Barry Creyton has a bad back and Carmen has to help him up a lot; so in rehearsals when she was helping Barry up she pulled her back out. Now on stage every night although Carmen is helping Barry, she's the one with the bad back.
R O B ER T K IN G C R A W F O R D , M e lb o u rn e C ity C o u n c il.
We hope, too, to get Frank Hatherley to come out and direct it, as he did the London production. We have also commissioned him to write a play about Ned Kelly's sister — following his Ripper Show — so he can work on that with us too. I can’t yet say what other plays we may be entrepreneuring as we haven’t got the rights on them yet.”
D A V ID B L E N K IN S O P , F e s tiv a l o f P e rth .
BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE $2M.
“At the moment it seems more than likely that the Prospect Theatre Company will be coming for a short tour to Australia, starting with two weeks at the Festival of Perth. They are being brought out by the Festival of Perth, and Clifford Hocking of Melbourne. It will be a small company with three “entertainments", rather than actual plays. They are The Lunatic The Lover and The Poet about Lord Byron, which will star Derek Jacobi; Smith of Smiths on the Reverend Sidney Smith, starring Timothy West; and The Postillion Has Been Struck By Lightning about the Grand Tour, with the whole company. This includes Julian Glover,
K E IT H D E V O N P O R T , A u s tra lia n B a lle t.
“We have an appeal going with the object of raising $2 million dollars to establish a new headquarters for the Ballet. It will include studios for the School and the Company, space for set design and production, administration and everything else. At the moment we're housed in a disused tyre warehouse and operations are scattered through about ten different buildings — although we're now rated as the fifth ballet company in the world. The appeal has been going for some months now, it's going quite well, but money is hard to
“Free Entertainment in Parks began in 1972 with a $3,000 budget, nine production programme and eighty artists, and in the following five years the productions have increased 300% and the artists to 22,500. There are thirty individual Festivals, each with its own concept and area of the performing arts, which run for up to eight days. FEIP is an extension of the ancient Village Green meeting place for the community and its involvement in middle-ofthe-road entertainment. The programme includes almost every area of performing arts, from opera to puppets to camp shows, and caters for almost every section of the community. FEIP acts as a showcase for the entertain ment industry and is fully supported by the unions involved. Artists appearing in the pro gramme invariably get flow on bookings, and often the programme is involved in giving amateur groups and young talent exposure. It is also often a training ground to give talent pro fessionalism. Arts Branch Melbourne City Council is the only Council entertainment operation that we know of that produces, presents, promotes, comperes, advertises, writes, directs, composes, choreographs, books, organises, designs and conceives its own programmes. A complete entrepreneurial operation. Sir Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Jimmy Edwards, Patrick Cargill, and Spike Milligan have all given their time and work free to the programme.” I HI A I Kt A t SI RAI IA NOVI M B! K IV7S
Q & Q CATCH 22 OF TIE G O R D O N B E A T T IE , T h e a tr e o f Y o u th an d E d u c a tio n in th e R iv e rin a .
YOU NEED OPERA AUSTRALIA A l l THF NATIONAL NEWS INTERVIEWS WITH VISITING PERSONALITIES, BACKGROUND MATERIAL ON BOTH NATIONAL AND REGIONAL COMPANY PRODUCTIONS.
“Tyer was formed in 1977 and got a Schools Commission Grant in February this year under the innovations grant system. This ran out in September and at the moment we don’t know if the NSW Government is going to continue with funding in the new year. We seem to be in a Catch 22 situation there, with the Education Department saying its the responsibility of Arts, and vice versa. This means that at the moment we’re operating on a commercial level, doing an Arts Council — type tour, performing to audiences of 120 children, which is not the kind of work we want to do at all. Our technique is one that operates with one class using performance, creative drama, simulation game playing and above all participation, which you can’t do with such large numbers. At the moment only the big schools can afford to book us, while the work we were doing before is especially related to the one and two teacher schools of which there are so many in the Riverina. I lecture in drama at the Riverina CAE, so my capacity is mainly co-ordination and super vision, but of the three others two are ex teachers and one has taken leave of absence from college, and have therefore made financial and other sacrifices to do this work. If we don’t get a grant we have to come to a decision as to whether to go on working in the way we are now, or whether that’s just not our thing. I’ve no idea what our chances are, but I think the Education Department should face up to its responsibility for this kind of thing.”
THEATRE COMPANY TOWNSVILLE
R IC N E L S O N , D ir e c to r S u m m e rs to c k P ro g ra m m e , T o w n s v ille C iv ic T h e a tr e .
THE COMPREHENSIVE MONTHLY OPERA NEWSPAPER SUBSCRIBE NOW: ONLY $4 ANNUALLY
by the Townsville City Council and the urban population growth, the time appeared ripe to set wheels in motion leading, we hope, to the establishment of a professional theatre company in North Queensland. With this object in mind, an initial program of five productions has been devised, spread over a nine month period, principally involving local amateur personnel. The material has been selected with a strong awareness of the general lack of theatre going tradition within the community. The program will commence in November with Ray Lawler’s ‘classic’ play Summer o f the 17th Doll. The remaining four productions will include a Shakespearean tragedy, a musical, a popular farce and a contemporary drama. Running concurrently with production periods, an actor workshop programme will be mounted, aimed at developing local expertise. It is hoped that we will be able to provide theatregoers in Townsville, not only with imported quality theatre, but also with local productions of a high standard.”
WA TO USA G E O F F G IB B S , A c to r.
“I will be away from Perth for two years. I will be at the Ohio State University for the first twelve months, teaching in the Theatre Arts Department. Their request was for an emphasis on Australian drama. Basically my plans are to learn and to experience as much as possible in two areas — children's drama and summer stock. I will be right in the centre of the summer stock scene. With a bit of luck I hope to work in a company during the summer of 1979. The purpose in this lies in the fact that I have felt for a long time that summer stock would be very applicable to Western Australia. We have an ideal regional centre on the south coast, Albany, which has thousands of summer visitors, I envisage an actors co-operative company being very successful there. The other involvement I’ll be following is in children’s drama. I’ll be attending seminars by Geraldine Bayne Siks, University of Washington, Seattle, and then moving to the east coast to the Arts in Education Centre, Long Island under Professor Goldberg. My programme is crammed. But there will be many insights to be gained which will extend my own development, and be of advantage in teaching my students.”
BRILLIANT AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL
C ircula tion M anager,
Opera Australia PC). Box R 2 2 3 , Royal E xchange, NSW 2 0 0 0
N E IL T H U R G O O D
I e n c lo s e m y c h e q u e fo r $ .................. P le a s e s e n d th e n e x t 12 is s u e s o f Opera Australia to : N am e A d d re s s P o s tc o d e
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
“In the past, due to physical isolation, lack of facilities, ‘theatrical events’ seen by audiences in the south have been denied to Townsville theatregoers. With the building of a fine theatre
“I recently directed the first production of a brilliant Australian Musical Comedy, The Canary Cage, which deserves far more than a short season with a country Amateur Musical Group. Written by John Sherman and Charles Phillips with music composed by Les Patching, it is an imaginative & musical re-enactment of
Q&Q incidents which really happened in Parramatta in the 1820’s, such as the break-out by the women prisoners when their tea ration was cut, the marriage market, the corrupt aspects of Colonial life & the subsequent consequences. The late John Sherman was always interested in the history of the early settlements, so together with historian and writer Charles Phillips and composer Les Patching The Canary Cage was born. Charles has written several books on early Australiana and Les is a well known Melbourne musician & composer, they have collaborated in several musicals one of which, Captains Ladies, won the Elizabethan Theatre Trust’s award for The Best Australian Musical. The Canary Cage is in my humble opinion far better and having directed it I can see so much that could be achieved with professional facilities and I hope that some enterprising entrepreneur will give me the opportunity of proving it.”
MacLiammoir was not revealed. He did indicate, however, that his handling of Wilde would be very different to that of the Irish actor’s. At the time it was believed MacLiammoir had been approached to tour Australia with his programme. Had Ferrier gone ahead with his show, it obviously would have harm ed any tour by MacLiammoir.
5th - 15th 16th - 26th
Brian Rosen and Peter Townsend, two mimes from the Canadian Mime Theatre which had such a successful tour of Australia in 1976, will be con ducting these workshops. Anyone interested is advised to enquire and/or enrol quickly as numbers are limited. $200 $110
NON-RESIDENT (inc. lunches)
To enrol, orforfurther details, contact the Department of Continuing Education UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND ARMIDALE 2351 Telephone enquiries (067)72-2911 Ext. 2788
MacLiammoir Sometime between the announcement by Ferrier of his plans and the August opening date, there came the news that M acLiammoir was definitely coming to Australia. So Ferrier decided to cancel his show. MacLiammoir in fact toured A ust ralia and New Zealand with The Im port ance o f Being Oscar M arch-August 1964, receiving great acclaim for his perform ance wherever he went. It is interesting now to speculate how Ferrier would have fared in the role of Wilde, whether his career might have taken different turnings had he performed it. Meanwhile there exists this unique photograph of Noel Ferrier in the role he never played.
This photograph seems to be the only memento of a one-man show which never happened: Noel Ferrier as Oscar Wilde. In June 1963, Ferrier announced he would be performing in a one-man show on Wilde. The production, devised by the late Jeff Underhill (who wrote book and lyrics for the Australian musical Ballad o f A n g el’s Alley), was to include excerpts from W ilde’s lectures, stories and epigrams, selections from his plays and poems, with emphasis on The Importance o f Being Earnest. The first performance was scheduled to take place at the Assembly Hall in Melbourne on August 10, where it was to play for eight performances. If the show was successful, the intention was for it to tour other States. Ferrier even had a first night opening gimmick arranged. He was to arrive at the Assembly Hall in a horse-drawn hansom cab, alight from it in his guise of Wilde, and walk straight onto the stage. W hether Ferrier (or someone else) had the idea of doing the Wilde one-man show as a result of the success of Michael
Two residential (i) WORKSHOPS (ii)
NOEL MISSED AN OSCAR
Noel Photo: Newton & Talbot
MTC LATTER DAY VIRTUES S IM O N
C H IL V E R S ,
D ir e c to r ,
M T C ’s
A rse n ic and Old Lace
“Yes — peaceful. The virtues of another day — they’re all here in this house. The gentle virtues that went out with candlelight and good manners and low taxes. So says the Vicar in, I think, an accurate assessment of the charm of this play, in which benevolent murder is two gentle ladies’ charitable contribution to the aged and lonely, in which a nephew self-appointed as Teddy Roosevelt digs the Panama Canal in the cellar, and another sinister nephew pursues the career of surgeon without training but with much private practice. To me all the signs are that the success of Arsenic And Old Lace grew from a workshop situation in which a team of actors (not directors, designers or even writers) contributed their individual talents toward creating a lunatic world in which only the sane are bewildered. It’s melodramatic, it’s farcical, it’s good natured, nostalgic and it’s very, very funny.”
Other events at Armidale in January 1979 include: Drama 8th - 19th Dance Education 17th - 26th and many others.
Olctleilt £r Çkeeran Ptif. f t d 1ST FLOOR, No. 6 WHARF, COWPER WHARF ROAD, WOOLLOOMOOLOO. 2011 PHONE: 357-1776 Staging & scenery builders Lighting special effects Stage props Soft hangings
P.O. Box 185. Ashgrove. Queensland, 4060.
PLAYSCRIPTS IDEAL FOR LITTLE THEATRE GROUPS • TREADMILL by Lorna Bol • THE BOTTOM OF A BIRDCAGE by Helen Haenke • 2 QUEENSLAND ONE-ACT PLAYS FOR FESTIVALS (VACANCY by Ron Hamilton; CHURCHYARD by Paul Collings) • MAN OF STEEL by Simon Denver and Ian Dorricott (a Musical Spoof — ideal for High School groups) • 3 QUEENSLAND ONE-ACT PLAYS FOR FESTIVALS (VOL.II) (TWO MEN IN BUCKRAM by Ian Austin; THE KISS by Jacqueline McKimmie; FIREBUG by Helen Haenke) • NOT EVEN A MOUSE by Barbara Stellmach ($3.00 each — post free) For information regarding PLAYLAB and the SCRIPT-READING SERVICE, write to: Hon. Sec. Playlab, 41 Culgoola Street, Kedron, Old. 4031.
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
LONDON SEATS Harry M Miller’s Computicket organisation, so far set up in Melbourne and Sydney, can now sell you tickets to London Theatres. What's more they are probably the second best seats in the house. I wonder if people in London can buy tickets to the theatre here? WHAT NEXT REG? The Reg Grundy Organisation after making a few dollars from merchandising during the not so recent ABBA tour, has acquired the merchan dising rights to such Hollywood greats as Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever and Grease, not to mention the legend in his own time, Lief Garratt. That’s right its Reg Grundy we thank for such things as badges, T-shirts and posters relating to these immortal heroes of the screen. I hear that negotiations are under way with the Robert Stigwood organisation so that Mr Reg Grundy can start printing badges, T-shirts and posters again. Only this time Mr Grundy will be a little more patriotic, the subject is the Bee Gees. Well, I can’t wait to see the Sir Robert Helpmann badges. ROGER WHO? At a recent first night at the Marian Street Theatre in Sydney where in attendance there were several celebrities and of course a spattering of Upper North Shore social set, one of the latter walked up to Mr Roger This is Your Life’ Climpson and introduced herself... “Mr Wagstaff isn’t it?”.
months in Europe and has returned to put on a variety revue and an original Australian children's play. The 269 is not just for graduates of the 680, in fact, as Olive Boddill, manager of the 269 put it, ‘it is a theatre for young professionals and we are calling for auditions. Any graduate from any Drama School in the country can come and spend several months in rep at the 269.’ To my knowledge this is Australia’s only answer to rep. I’d like to hear from you if there is anything similar anywhere else. I am sure we have quite a few thespian mates who would be interested to know also. DAWN IS COMING At this time last year production wound up on the feature film about the life of Dawn Fraser starring Tom Richards as Harry Gallagher, Dawn’s coach. Dawn was to be released last April but for some unknown reason it wasn’t. Tom then appeared in episodes R to Z of Grundy’s Chopper Squad which was taken off the air at around episode P and now Tom is doing a tele-play for the ABC called Money in the Bank, which should be to air very soon. Don’t despair Tom, if Money in the Bank is canned for a while, I have it on good authority (ho ho) that Dawn will be released in December and Chopper Squad will reappear on our screens about the same time. BUSH THEATRE I have received a letter from Klaus Villwock of The Basin Theatre Group informing me of their forthcoming production, Period o f Adjustment by Tennesee Williams. Mr Villwock asked that we include his Theatre Group in the mags list of amateur companies, but where do we find The Basin Theatre Group? The only clue to its whereabouts is PO Box 51, The Basin, 3154, and a contact number — (03) 762-1082, and as the letter reads ‘built in a lovely bush setting’.
representative says — “This will mean a total donation of 1.5 million dollars for the opera.” For 1979 it will be an Aida bottle, there will only be 1,000 made and they will go on sale in a few weeks for $200 each. $150 of this will be for the Australian Opera. “In the U.S. a similar bottle was produced for the Lyric Opera, sold for $200 and in twelve months was worth $1,000.” said Mr Walker. So you’d better get in quick for these collectors’ items. NEW MOVIE Bruce Beresford, one of Australia’s better known film directors will be making Breaker Morant next year. Production will probably start some time in January. Bruce is thinking about bringing out a star from the UK but I hope he can find an Australian artist to fit the bill. Casting for the rest of the parts should be well under way by now but knowing Bruce he probably knew who he wanted some months ago. VERSATILE ACTRESS Candy Raymond, who is without a doubt one of the best actresses in the country, can be seen in Money Movers which will open simultaneously in fifteen cinemas through the country very soon and in Peter Weir’s tele-movie, The Plumber early next year. Candy is really diversifying, she has teamed up with Ron Scott (her voice-over agent) to manage a six piece choir to be used as session singers. The choir consists of three male and three female singers who are individually probably the best session singers around. Last month they completed a Rosso Antico commercial for which three hours of studio time was alloted, yet the choir finished the job in a record forty-five minutes. Rosso's accountants were very pleased. Send entries fo r this column to Brad Keeling at the Management Office.
SUFFRAGETTES? SAME OLD STORY Casting has started for a movie to be made in WA early next year. A three-hander, two of the leads will be cast in Sydney. The story line reads — two boys grow up together in a mining town in the West. One of the boys dies tragically and the other buys a motorcycle, meets a girl and travels around the country-side. Such adventure. The title for this action packed movie has not yet been decided upon, but I am assured that it will be as original as the story itself. I wonder if our hero’s name will be Bronson.
What does a Feminist Film Worker do? Well, the Sydney Film Makers Co-op must know because they have just employed two — Jeni Thornley and Susan Lambert. Jeni’s (or is it Ms Jeni’s) film, Maidens received a Greater Union award and Susan’s film Size 10 will be released in December at the Co-op’s theatre in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Size 10 is a film about the attitude towards women’s size and shape. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what Maidens is all about, but, if anyone can find me a size 10 maiden — let me know.
AT LAST REP.
OPERA HOUSE BOURBON
The Sydney based 680 Players, an off-shoot of the 680 Drama School, will be putting on plays in repertory at the 269 Playhouse in Miller Street, North Sydney (the old Independent Theatre). The plays will be on two or three days during the week, and every Sunday at 4 pm. John Howitt owner of the 680 Drama School and the 269 Playhouse has spent the last three
The Jim Beam Bourbon Company has produced a bottle of bourbon in the shape of the Sydney Opera House (you could have fooled me) which went on sale last year. The purpose behind this idea is to generate funds for the Australian Opera. There will be a different opera bottle produced each year for the next ten years and as Mr Peter Walker, Jim Beam’s public relations
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Full section of plays and filmscripts. The ONLY plays we stock are AUSTRALIAN plays.
Henry l Lawson’s Bookshop
127 York Street, Sydney 2000. Ph: 29-7799 (half a block from Town Hall)
AUSTRALIAN BOOKS ONLY.
W H IS P E R S RUM OURS •
I cannot recall quite so many starry names being kicked around for any play to be staged here as for The Kingfisher, which Googie Withers, John McCallum and Frank Thring are now going to do. List includes Anna Neagle, John Mills, Coral Browne, Vincent Price, Robert Helpmann, Emlyn Williams, Hugh Griffiths, Constance Cummings, Joan Fontaine, Brian Aherne, Greer Garson and — who at one time seemed the hottest favourite — Myrna Loy. On Broadway it is Claudette Colbert and Rex Harrison. Apparently it needs star names to carry it. One wonders though whether Rachel Roberts’ journey will be really necessary. She is an excellent actress, of that there can be no doubt. But 1do query her box office appeal in Australia for The Bed Before Yesterday; after all, she was no draw for Picnic A t Hanging Rock. There are so many actresses around who could play the role as well in the Travers farce, and whose names would mean more to the general public. Offhand 1 can think of Bettina Welch, Carol Raye, Margo Lee, Julia Blake, Jacqueline Kott, Judi Farr — and there must be many many more. So why go to the expense of importing someone? Why does Equity continue to allow it? As Crown Matrimonial has proved: when the play is good and the cast right, it is not necessary. Hear Gordon Chater is likely to be approached to play the lead when Privates on Parade is staged here next year... Also that Eric Dare has rights for Australia of The Unvarnished Truth, a comedy about love and death, which has Tim Brooke-Taylor starring in London. No date or venue yet fixed for presentation here... Rumours that Henry Fonda, Dustin Hoffman or Richard Burton likely to star in a play here next year. Sound like just rumours. Wonder why Nimrod’s production of The Club was such a huge flop on its return season to Sydney’s Theatre Royal... Have my doubts about the wisdom of launching a campaign to save the Mayfair in Sydney, seeing that until earlier this year it has not been used as a live theatre since the early 1930s... After his success this year in Perth and South Australia, Philippe Genty and his puppet show will be back from April to October next year, brought out by the Adelaide Festival people, with the Victorian Arts Centre presenting him in Melbourne and
Cliff Hocking in Sydney. Was invited to three openings on one night in September: MTC’s Gone With Hardy, The Masters at the Comedy and Hoopla’s The Emigrants. With so many weeks of no Melbourne openings, one would have thought things could have been organised better. It can’t be good for the theatre with everyone vying for publicity and first night coverage... Am told Jon Finlayson has been retained as consultantdirector by the Tasmanian Fiesta for three projects: a New Year’s Eve three-hour open air show in Hobart, presentation of the New York Dance Quintet and the American play Bullshot. After seeing the recent production of The Masters, with one half devoted to Ivor Novello, was reminded of the fact that now living in Melbourne is one of Novello’s leading ladies: vocal teacher Diane Dubarry. Diane took over from Mary Ellis in the West End production of Arc De Triomphe, thus repeating history as her mother — opera and musical comedy star of the 1920s and 1930s, Desiree Ellinger — also replaced NJary Ellis in the New York production of Rose Marie. And Diane’s first cousin, incidentally, happens to be film and stage director John Schlesinger. Looks as if one of next year’s highlights will be The Prospect Theatre at the Old Vic Company, starting its tour at the Perth Festival and then, for Cliff Hocking, appearing in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Headed by Timothy (Edward VII) West and Derek (I Claudius) Jacobi, the small company has several programmes to present, with each city likely to see at least two. One programme is called The Grand Tour and subtitled An Entertainment Also Entitled The Postillion Has Been Struck by Lightning, another about Lord Byron dubbed The Lord, The Lover And The Poet, one devoted to Shakespeare and another called Smith o f Smiths. It will be nice seeing Marion Edward back with the MTC after such a long time in Once A Catholic (which will transfer to Sydney). Also back with the company will be Christine Amor and Bruce Kerr and, making her MTC debut, Kim Deacon who was in the film The Getting o f
Wisdom and Livermore musical Ned Kelly... That play presented by Hoopla at the Playbox, The Next Greatest Pleasure, is the third by D M Scott. Understand his second, The Brass Band Funeral, is being staged by Nimrod early next year. Wonder what happened to his first. What is the show the Australian general public would most like to see revived? White Horse Inn, if the talk back questions, when a leading impresario was recently interviewed on the ABC, are any guide... Understand the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust have acquired Australian rights to PS Your Cat Is Dead!, the American play by James Kirkwood from his novel of the same name... Not all of the stars of Bedroom Farce apparently will be with the production when it tours to other capital cities. Cleo Laine and John Dankworth are almost certain to be back next February and March. Cleo is a great admirer of Australian films, and I understand would not be adverse to appearing in one... Once upon a time (in the late ’50s and early ’60s), General Motors—Holden used to present annually an award for something outstanding in the Australian theatre. What happened to the idea? Or is there nothing outstanding in the Australian theatre any more? Lionel Bart’s latest musical, based on The Hunchback o f Notre Dame and called Quasimodo, is likely to be staged in the West End early next year... See Anna Neagle plays Professor Higgins’ mother in a production of My Fair Lady, beginning an English tour in Leicester on November 9. Higgins will be portrayed by Tony Britton... And a recent production of Lady Windermere's Fan had Moira Lister, Jessie Matthews and Wilfred Hyde White heading the cast. My carrier pigeon from New Zealand brings me news that Auckland’s Mercury Theatre had a tremendous success in September with the Nimrod production of Christian Brothers with Peter Carroll, so much so that extra performances had to be staged... And on November 8 the Mercury is presenting Pippin, directed by Robert Alderton with lead being played by Rob Guest, who received New Zealand's ‘Entertainer of the Year' award.
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T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Dear Editors, Are other writers meeting complete silence in efforts to trace playscripts submitted to the 1978 ANPC? In my case receipt was acknowledged in Nov 77 and notice of non-selection received in early March 78. I am reluctant to be critical of the Playwrights’ Conference but what is this paralysis that affects the recipients of a script? Why are they totally unable to slip it into the enclosed SAE and then into a letter box? Conference aside, could theatre companies, through Theatre Australia, let aspiring writers know their attitude to unsolicited scripts? eg We don’t want to know about them. We will read and return them promptly with a helpful covering letter. We pretend we want them but will return them unread, and then only when the requisite number of coffee rings and cigarette burns have been inflicted and the sae is sufficiently tattered. NB On no account will they be returned until at least four letters of increasing fury have been received. Yours sincerely M a ry S m ith A r a r a t, V ic .
Dear Sir, I was recently criticised by someone called Douglas Flintoff (Theatre Australia, June issue) for using subsidised companies to try out commercial plays. To set the record straight what I do is what London producers have done for years and what Australian producers should have done for years, which is to take plays from the sybsidised theatres and tour them commercially. Its a very simple arrangement. The subsidised theatres benefit in two ways: a) they get their productions aired in other states and b) they get a percentage of the gross with no risk which can amount to quite a substantial amount over a long tour, and helps offset their original production costs. I take a risk touring plays like Dusa Fish or Once A Catholic which may not seem all that commercially viable because I couldn't be bothered promoting rubbish like most of the other commercial entrepreneurs in this country so I don’t need the extra headache of huge production costs. Yours sincerely, W ilto n M o rle y P a ra c h u te P ro d u c tio n s M e lb o u rn e , V ic .
Dear Sir, I am getting tired of the complaints of offended commercial entrepreneurs, such as Parachute Productions and The Nimrod Theatre, who feel guilty about wanting to make money. (I would too, but let it pass...) If Mr T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V E M B E R 1978
Morley thinks he is “setting the record straight” by crying “risk!” (as Mr lies did) and “they do it in London!” (as Mr lies did) then he has missed my point utterly (as Mr lies did). I know they do it in London, and I know you are taking some risk, but neither of those is enough to justify the use of public money from one company to another, and look what happened to them. The argument that the only way you can make subsidised theatre exciting is by making it compete in the market place is like the argument, heard recently, that health insurance should be earned according to your income. If commercial competition is the only way to make subsidised theatre interesting, then it’s not working. And I’m sorry Mr Morley (who probably, as he claims, doesn’t promote rubbish) will have to face the “extra headache” of paying for the productions he tours. Yours sincerely, D o u g la s F lin to ff B ro o k ly n , N S W
Dear Sir, The September/October 1977 issue of Theatre Australia featured an article entitled “Musical Theatre in Australia” by Tony Sheldon. I am anxious to obtain as many manuscripts of Australian musicals as I can lay my hands on and hope you can refer me to some-one from whom I can acquire information which will lead me to them, perhaps the author himself. I am especially interested in Australian material suitable for school productions. Yours faithfully, D a v id M B ro w n
One of the first problems to confront Stuart W agstaff in his new role as producer was a suitable venue to stage his play in Sydney. He had been sitting on the rights to the successful American comedy, Fathers Day, for some three and a half years. Finally the pieces started to fall together and a new production team was born when Stuart went into partnership with Louis Van Essen. “ I wanted the Royal. It’s a nice theatre, seats the right am ount of people and is fairly prestigious. But it works out very expensive. Getting finance and private investors when you have no track record is hard enough, let alone paying out $10,000 a week for a theatre!” So w hat happened then? ‘‘Well we finally settled on the Mayfair, which was in a state of disrepair. Hoyts, who owned the building then, were marvellous; they did up the backstage area and the dressing rooms. It’s like a real theatre again, which of course it was some forty years ago.” Why did he choose an old film theatre in the first place? “ W hat other theatre in the centre of town is there? Her Majesty’s — too big and wrong end of town. The Seymour Centre — you’ve got to set out to go and see the play, there’s no passing trade. The Royal — well as I’ve said, too expensive. Then of course, there’s the old Elizabethan at Newtown and we can forget that!’ So the Mayfair it was and a whole new life for Stuart Wagstaff. The Sydney run was as successful as Wagstaff could have hoped and the play then moved to M elbourne in October for six weeks. After that it’s off to Newcastle, Canberra and Brisbane. As I write negotiations are under way to also stage Fathers Day in Adelaide and Perth. To Stuart sometimes it is all like a dream. “ I am only a producer by default really, because no other management would touch Fathers Day. It doesn’t read well. But I knew I was right,” Stuart reflects.
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“ I wanted to do something like this twelve years ago.” beamed Harry M Miller. Happy because twelve years and twelve million dollars later he has intro duced to the theatre an efficient ticketing service. “The only unfortunate thing about it” , he said “ is that I have probably sent some poor little man who used to num ber and collate theatre tickets, out of bus iness.” The idea behind Computicket is to make it easy for theatre goers to purchase a ticket to the show they wish to see and to aid producers by increasing attendance. Computicket opened in Sydney late in August this year and at last count there had been a “ twenty per cent increase in theatre attendance.” The way it w'orks is that by going to your nearest Computicket outlet (and there is soon to be one in all city suburbs) you can buy a ticket to the show you wish to see and have it in your hand as you leave. There are no blocks of seats allocated to each booking office which means it is first in first served for the best seats in the house and you do not have to race into the theatre box office and queue for this
Producer’s Day Stuart Wagstaff talks to Barry Eaton And what of the future? “ Now we’re making money. If we make enough to repay our investors and make a small profit, then I can produce again. At the moment my future as a producer looks bright, if I can find the right play.” How does he see himself as a producer? “ Too easy. I give in to actors,” he grins. “ It’s very hard to switch from being an actor one day to becoming a producer the next.” Will he keep on performing himself? “ I would like to think that I could gradually phase out from being a per former and phase into being a producer in the Kenn Brodziak style. But I don’t think I can, or deep down that I want to really. I enjoy pushing my face onto a stage or a television screen. I like it and I make a lot of money at it, which is attractive” . However Stuart would dearly love to have his own theatre to stage what he wants. Not necessarily his own productions all the time. He would keep in touch with all the theatricals in Australia, and if he found a good play, bring it into Sydney as happens in England. He would have a strict policy of comedy. “ A part from the Music Hall, this doesn’t exist here” , he says. “ If you go to a particular theatre in London, you know the sort of entertainm ent you are going to get. I would love to have the Comedy Theatre. If people go there they know there’s a farce, a comedy or something that’s entertainment. I don’t want to educate the public, improve their minds or put on the classics — I just want to
entertain them ” . W agstaff sees himself as joining a band of middle range producers, so im portant to this country. While the Brodziaks are always assured of a future, the smaller producer has to fight harder to survive. It’s all a m atter of attracting and keeping the right investors, according to Wagstaff. Brodziak, apart from being clever and keeping his finger on the public pulse, has always looked after and cosseted investors; still the same ones he started with thirty odd years ago. “T h at’s frankly what I’d like to do too” , he says very firmly. “ If Fathers Day makes money, any shows I do from now on, the first offers will go to my present backers. They are my team, if they want to be, I don’t care if God comes in with a million dollars, I would give the little lady down the road who put in her thousand dollars, first offer.” He plans to visit London to see two shows in particular, in which he is interested. But like a canny producer he is keeping his options and his eyes open. One of the shows is for Stuart himself to appear in — Donald Sinden is currently doing the part on the West End. (I can only assume that the play in question is the farce, Shut Your Eyes and Think o f England, which opened at the Apollo about twelve months ago.) Apparently there have been many enquiries at the box office whether Stuart was appearing in Fathers Day, so he has decided to star in a future production. “There is obviously an audience for me,
Stuart Wagstaff which sounds slightly bum ptious” , he says modestly, “but it’s also a fact” . But Stuart says he is doing too much work at the moment and if he were to undertake a play, it would restrict his activities. Does he need some outside influence to force this restraint? “Yes, it’s the old actor’s syndrome of accepting offers because you need the work. I find it impossible to say no to an offer of work — because it might be the last one!” W hat are some of the benefits of being a producer? One of the greatest joys was to conduct auditions so that the actors had some dignity and didn’t have to wait six weeks, for an answer. I told them at the outset if they were not right, which I think they appreciated. Also the utter joy of ringing someone, telling them they were wanted and hearing the reaction at the other end.”
Harry Miller’s Computicket Brad Keeling privilege. For instance, last month in Sydney the forthcoming Bette Midler concert tour went on sale one Monday morning and three concerts were sold out by 1.20 that afternoon. Two more concerts have been sold out since then. There were no queues, no rush into the city and no hard feelings towards the promoters. Computicket is the promoters’ dream. There is no need to stoop to the low tricks they had used in the past. For example, tickets going on sale at one outlet only and taking pride in the amount of publicity they were getting from fans queuing for days outside the box office, or cutting the number of concerts down because they could not be sure how many people would attend, or rather how many people would be bothered to queue for tickets. At last these problems have been overcome and promoters can speculate as to the num ber of concerts they will need to
put on without having to be so illmannered to their clients, their bread and butter, — the concert goers. The Computicket system was developed in the USA by Computer Sciences Inc, and has been operating in South Africa since 1971. “ I nearly brought the system here three years ago,” said Harry M, “ but there were still some bugs I wanted ironed out. I wanted to bring to Australia a system that was highly sophisticated.” He has done just that. The Harry M Miller organisation has moved into new premises in William Street in Sydney where there is an alternate power source in case of any sort of power failure; and, as Harry M says from his suite on the twenty second floor, “ my computers have the best view in Sydney.” The staff of the Computicket set up is a highly polished and very professional team. People like Donald B McDonald,
Harry Miller Derek Minett, Graeme Anderson, and of course, Harry M Miller who have a lifetime of experience in the leisure industry. T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Zygmunt Molik Photo: Mike Lean
Zygmunt Molik — Grotowski’s leading actor_____________ Exclusive interview with Jeremy Ridgman Zygmunt Molik, leading actor and founder member of Gotowski’s Theatre Laboratory in Poland, has been in Brisbane, conducting a series of work shops with acting students at Kelvin Grove College of Advanced Education. Such a visit, spread over two months and forming part of the students’ training is rare for a member of the Laboratory. I spoke with Molik in the presence of Bohdan Trukan, head of Kelvin Grove’s Acting Programme and began by asking him what was the purpose of his visit. “ I am trying to conduct work on voice and body in actor’s training. There is a kind of hum an search. A lot of people afe like life seekers, in the same sense that a lot of people are job seekers. A lot of such people we can find in acting schools, because I know that everybody must have, at a certain time in his life, a kind of guidance; if not, he is like a feather on the wind, going to and fro, and not like a firm tree that can bend with the wind but stand firmly rooted in the soil. It is my saying sometimes that to be an actor, first of all you must be a m an.” Did the work at Kelvin Grove have a particular end in mind, a performance or a presentation? “ O ur goal is not to reach a result: our goal is to be in the process of finding. However, at the moment I am almost sure that it will be possible to give some special performances. “ A lot of very simple, hard work is necessary on our body and our sound. We must be sure of ourselves, because we move on very uncertain terrain. We must be strong, because any step we take we meet with the weakness that is in ourselves. We must be independent of our body, because we depend on so many factors, powers outside. So we must be ready, in the smallest detail; to be able to go forward without unnecessary tensions or contractions, to go forward with an open throat and even without unnecessary movement. Only what has to be done must be done.” W hat did he require then of the actors he was working with? “T hat everyone should come in with a 10
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
kind of expectancy for something very peculiar in their life — that something can happen that is out of the ordinary. Only it is up to us to make the first step in this expectancy, in this peculiar waiting. So we are not waiting by doing nothing, but waiting by doing certain things, with the whole of our being. Even if we do the simplest physical exercises, they can not be done in a gymnastic way.” Molik is sceptical about the notion of technique. It is something which “ comes with practice — you don’t need real experiences for that. The first goal is to meet each other. But the second is to come out of this mediocrity, this everyday life which is so often uninteresting: everyone hates it, but he doesn’t know the way out, how to open new doors for himself, doors which have been closed so far. And to do all that, not in a very general, so as to speak, search, but to do all this on the tough ground of hard work on the voice and body; that is the point of our meetings.” Would he see theatre then as a way of coming out of mediocrity, as a heightened form of living? “ It is, sometimes; unfort unately, in recent days, not too often.” I was interested in the connection nowadays between his work and the seminal ideas of Grotowski. “ Whatever I am doing” he told me, “whatever someone of our group is doing, it is all influenced very strongly by Grotowski: we are rooted simply in that soil. W hatever I do, I know that I am on my own, everything has to be mine. But I know that without these roots all would be quite different.” How far had things developed then in the twenty years since Grotowski formed his Laboratory and the ten or so years since his ideas crystallised in Towards A Poor Theatre? “ Entirely. Every year we have tried to find new responses to new questions that were put before us, and of course, before Grotowski himself.” He agreed with T rukan’s suggestion that the Grotowski theatre had been through a number of “ lives” in the past twenty years, each new theatre “ having its roots in and being the extension of the theatre that was ending.” Grotowski refers to two types of actor, the “ courtesan” actor and the “ holy” actor. How, I asked, did he interpret the distinction, in the light of his own experience? He thought deeply for some time . . . “ You know the story of Saint Mary M agdalene?” Point taken. Molik is wary of theorising about theatre and puts more faith in practice and the act itself than in the attem pt to explain, “ there are others who explain things. Very often we do things that we don’t know in full; we might only have a hunch. Later we read a book, a good book, and find the phenomenon described very precisely. It’s just that I can not do things that I have already read about before: I must do things in my own way and later I will find an exact description of what I was doing.” And what of “ magic” in the theatre? Was there such a thing? “ The magic comes or it doesn’t, and you must do simple things.”
Pamela Ruskin < He’s a little bloke with unrem arkable features. His hair has retreated to the point where you can’t even describe the effect as achieving a very high forehead. To compensate perhaps, he wears it long enough to touch his collar, falling straight and lank. He wears steel or silver-framed glasses, a flat, peaked Dutch cap has become his hallmark. His voice is soft, well-modulated but it can and does, dominate a stage. As an actor, he is decidedly low key. Think of Sir Henry Irving or the powerful oratory of Olivier and then go as far as you can in the opposite direction and you arrive at Bruce Myles. He says th at “ I’ve been criticised often for the low key profile but I think it’s effective” . In 1973 Myles played the im portant role of Tom in John Powers rugged play The Last o f the Knucklem en for the M elbourne Theatre Company. He played it superbly, a quiet, strong inter pretation of the role in a very extrovert, hard-swearing, tough gang of men, work ing on a mining project in the north of Australia. He was the pivot of the play, the counterbalance to the rest of the brawling mob. He played it again in a return season the following year and was all set to go with it, with most of the original cast, to America for a Broadway season, when it all fell through. W hat happened? “ I almost had my ticket, it was so close. The Australia Council had given $50,000 but we didn’t get the rest of the backing. The Americans wanted $V* million.” “ I suppose” , I said, “ You’re playing Tom again in the film th a t’s being made of it.” “ No” said Myles. “ Why not?” “ I wasn’t asked” was the reply, accompanied by the benevolent, rather wistful smile that is p art of his charm, on stage and off. I find this almost impossible to believe. I even find it hard to visualize anyone else in the role, but Bruce says that he’s never
WA Playwright problems Katharine Brisbane Perth Playhouse director Stephen Barry has found himself in a hornet’s nest over the WA sesquicentennial celebrations planned for next year. Being a forward-thinking man he sought and received his board’s approval earlier this year to commission works from the two best-known WA-bred playwrights: Alan Seymour (a London resident) and Dorothy Hewett (now living in Sydney). The news of Seymour’s commission was received without demur by local opinionmakers, despite the fact that he has lived abroad since 1960. But Ms Hewett’s was another matter. The effect of the Hewett name upon the
been offered a film role and it is difficult to break into the rather tight circle of the film world. “A bsurd ”, I say! At the moment, he is involved in the directing side of the Melbourne Theatre Company. While John Sumner is overseas this year, Ray Lawler has been in charge of the company and Bruce and Mick Rodger are Assistant Directors, which hasn’t kept him off the stage. He played an excellent Richard III earlier in the year, one of his favourite roles. He has, however, found a good deal of satisfaction in directing, though “ I prefer acting — if the right role comes along” . He directed the very powerful play, Departmental, and when I talked to him was just beginning rehearsals as director of Bertolt Brecht’s Arturo Ui. “ It’s an interesting assignment for me because I played in it for almost three years in Britain. I played it first in Glasgow in 1967. My son was born during that run. Then it went to the Edinburgh Festival, and later to the Saville Theatre in the West End in 1969.” He says that his production won’t owe very much to the one in which he appeared, but it does give him the advantage of being thoroughly familiar with the play. “ Kim Carpenter’s designs are very simple, very effective, I hope, and take it right away from the British production” . I ask him if he’s had any trouble casting it and if he has complete freedom in this area? “ W hen Ray Lawler and I were choosing the company for the year, we took each other’s plays into account and then cast them within that framework. I wanted Edwin Hodgeman for Arturo and Ray wanted him for The Playboy o f the Western World. In fact, the season was based on our cast needs for the two plays with the biggest casts, Under Milkwood and Arturo Ui. W hat are Bruce Myles’ strengths as a director. He thinks for a moment and
smiles gently. “ I suppose after twenty years as an actor, you could say I’m an actor-orientated director. I see things from the actor’s point of view and I see the potential of each role this way too. I’ve directed plays with themes that interest me. These themes are power and its misuse and tyranny as it is exerted. Departmental set within a police station was about power and its misuse and at different levels, so are Arturo and another play I’m directing after that, Bodies by James Saunders, which will open at the Russell Street Theatre next year, from January 23rd to M arch 17th. They are very different plays” . John Sumner saw Bodies in London and said that it was a play that the MTC should do. Myles’ production of Brecht’s Arturo Ui, will be the first staged in Melbourne. He describes it as “ a political satire, almost a pantomime on Hitler. It is about the kind of people we allow to be our leaders. It is based on a cabaret style. In Germany in the thirties, the cabarets were where you could see very witty and bitter put-downs of the Nazis. Most of the artists in them were killed off. You saw it in the film, Cabaret. It is set in Chicago in the Thirties, and there is a small-time mobster, on the A1 Capone model who gradually takes over the city, but you find among his supporters all thugs, the recognizable figures of the rising Nazi thugs in Germany, Goebbels, Goering and so on. Through this device, you see the rise of Hitler up to the time of the Anschluss” . Bruce Myles also produced, I Sang In M y Chains, which was a Miscellany of Dylan Thomas for Melbourne Theatre Tributary Productions in September. “They are im portant because they give a new playwright or a not very experienced one a chance to see what works and what doesn’t, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a play. “ I ask him if there is ever a chance for such plays to be given a full production later. “ Certainly there is. At the moment, there are three Tributary productions being considered for a full season. One had a week at Russell Street and two were Sunday night readings” . Radio was Myles’ introduction to acting,
starting off in 1956 and then going into live theatre at the Independent in Sydney. He spent ten years after that in England and America and joined the MTC first in 1973, playing* Ron Blair’s President Wilson in Paris as well as the Knucklemen. Perhaps his most famous role in Melbourne has been that of Barney in Lawler’s Doll trilogy. “ Basically I’m an actor, and the directing is just a cooling off period. If Arturo doesn’t work, I’ll just disappear into limbo” . Although Richard I II and Hamlet which he played at the Salisbury Playhouse in England are his favourite roles, he likes modern plays — modern Australian plays that relate to the problems of life today. For all his quiet manner, Bruce Myles is an enthusiast, albeit a tongue-in-cheek one. I ask hint about the things he’d still like to do and he says, with only the glimmer of a smile, “ I want to do more directing, a more administrative work. I want to make a film myself and I want to make a television series of my own.” He looks me in the eye and again the benevolent smile. “ I also want to win Wimbledon and captain Australia in the Tests” . This most sensitive of actors returns to the reality of a Brecht rehearsal that is waiting for him and tugging his peaked cap in farewell, leaves me and his W alter Mitty dreams behind him.
passions of Perth people has not gone unnoticed over the years. According to Barry’s experience old ladies at the K arrakatta Club who have never read a word of her work, are roused to verbal violence at its mention. These views have been enhanced by conscientious corres pondence from Ms Hewett’s former husband and his wife to educationists, librarians, booksellers, literary and theatre personalities, alleging libels and threat ening legal actions. The public announcement last August of the two commissions brought on an attack of A rt look (the WA arts magazine) putting the case that the public money so far invested in Dorothy Hewett had not produced the prototype Australian play; and claiming — quite wrongly — that productions of her work at the Playhouse, the Opera House etc had been box office disasters. (Barry has cautiously done his homework and says their production of Bon Bons and Roses fo r Dolly did better
business for the Playhouse than the plays before and after it). The situation has been aggravated by the fact that Stephen Barry now finds himself drawn into two playwriting com p etitions with which he was not connected at the time of the commissions: the 150th Anniversary Play Competition with prize money of $7,000, and the Henrietta Drake Brockman award, donated by the Mount Na Sura real estate company with a first prize of $3,500. Both competitions have the same entry qualifications. Widely held objections by prospective entrants are that both Hewett and Seymour are eligible to enter both competitions and indeed might have won; and that now Perth audiences will be asked to support the production of four new plays in 1979 —- an unrealistic demand. And that Barry is virtually in charge of the destiny of all four plays. Barry says that the Playhouse has a primary obligation to Hewett and
Seymour. Their commissions had come out of Playhouse funds (not $5,000 each, as The Australian had stated but nearer half that figure between them) and only the quality of the finished scripts, not any political pressure, would determine their public presentation next year. The drafts he had seen so far satisfied him that the Playhouse would get its money’s worth. Lack of communication is what seems to be at the bottom of the current mess. The 150th Anniversary winner should have been announced on September 30 and it is not certain even now who the judging panel is — apart from Barry. Maybe the workshops will be a start in the right direction. And as for Ms Hewett: it is four years or so since Perth saw a play of hers — who knows, they might even like The Man from M ukinbudin, as it is presently called. Either way Barry remains deter mined and undismayed. A familiar stance by those in the line of fire aimed so often at Hewett and her work.
STOWES ruce Myles
T H L A T R L A U ST R A L IA N O V LM BI R 1478
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T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
JACK HIBBERD looks through a literary lens at the making of
Dim boola P la y to H im
The Brutal Vulgarizing Director Versus the Creative Writer. Heigh hoT It has more than once been pithily observed that Hollywood is a graveyard of good writers, that cinema, because it is also an industry, tends too readily to assume all the characteristics of an intellectual snakepit or a board room of highly expedient and nervous retailers. Gore Vidal, beloved by all cineastes, defined his experience of screen writing as a form of indoor sport. I must promptly record that my experiences in the long evolution of Dimboola screenplay were precisely the opposite — that is, up until the rejection of my third draft by the Australian Film Commission, when the creative ball-game and its tacit rules appeared suddenly to change, not to the extremes mentioned above but to a degree that could only cause some concern in a writer previously used to almost total control of his material. These changes seemed partly a response to a drastic practical situation, partly the growing manifestation of a relative lack of faith in my capacity to wholly write a comedy screenplay that would both work and attract funds (they are not necessarily the same), partly an investment of new faith in the director to achieve both these sometimes conflicting aims. I might add that the production company, Pram Factory Productions and its film company, was naturally acting within its formal rights in these matters, merely exercising proper judgement. ‘The importance of a film’s screenplay is self-evident, but it should always be seen as a variable factor in the film-making process — far more so, for instance.
than in stage dram a.’ —Keith Connolly I commenced work on Dimboola the film in early 1976 with the execution of a synopsis and character litany for the AFC. On the basis of this, Pram Factory Productions received and administered a Script Development G rant to enable me to elaborate a screenplay. The real labours started in May 1976. Right from the beginning I was deter mined not to base the screenplay simply and directly on the play, which I strongly felt relied too distinctly on the physically confined, social occasion, audience partic ipation and purely theatrical rituals, for feasible filmic translation. The first draft was completed later that year and dispatched to the AFC. It was not greeted with applause. Understandably so, for it was overlong, without special style, dramatically diffuse, narratively feeble, and cruellest of all, not terribly funny. It was a mistake to send it off. No one has ever clapped eyes on the first draft of one of my plays. This draft was in retrospect the first long leg in a journey away from the play. I had to gradually and painstakingly get it out of my system. Initially I did this by expanding in time, by depicting events leading up to the reception and some immediately after it, by inventing a new society of characters and even eradicating some from the play (eg Mavis, the wife of Horrie, who is now a forlorn widower and intended as an ironic counterpoint to the central couple). ‘Unlike jam manufacturers or codgers who make a crust organising conven
tions for run-down paint salesmen in Albury you are on about intangible dream s’. —David Baker In January of 1977 I returned to the desk, gnashed my creative teeth, and had a sceptical geek at it all. After some weeks of rumination I came up with the simple kernel idea of an outsider, an entirely fresh outsider, an Englishman, an anthro pologist and Oxford don, who I contrived to be on his first visit here with the purpose of observing and recording in a tome the idiosyncratic customs and life of the local folk. His very first experience, substantial sustained experience of Australia, was to be a few days in my imaginary Dimboola. Intrinsic to the conception, substance and life of Vivian Worcestershire-Jones was the notion that he would actively, in his Englishness, contrast comically and dramatically with the Australianness of the town, that his sometimes amused, sometimes stunned, sometimes appalled, responses to the individuals and events would render the community fresh and unique, imbue it even with a droll anthropological perspective. To the forefront of my mind was an intense desire to avoid all the mundane naturalistic conventions of a Bell Bird interlarded and sprinkled with token comic events, gratuitous gags, and idiot one-liners. I wanted an integrated comic vision of an agrarian world where non conformity and eccentricity surprisingly flourish in the firm context of conforming social forces. Once inflamed by the personage of
I HI A I Rl A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Worcestershire-Jones, his comic nature and dram atic function, the second draft flowed more felicitously. Characters assumed a more distinct life, the action tightened, there was a more coherent and rooted intermingling of comedy, gravity, and lunacy. Though still a little too long and at times dramatically maladroit or narratively creaky, Pram Factory Produc tions felt confident enough to call for directors. The response was not overwhelming. It had been decided to appoint the director on formal and informal responses to the screenplay at this stage. Some directors seemed to feel this an insulting tactic, that he or she should have ineluctably been chosen as the right one. The rationale for this procedure was simply that recent Australian cinema seemed to lack a little in the comic department, that it was imperative to talk to a range of possible directors and respond to their ideas, or lack of them. ‘The Producers and Directors Guild of Australia in Melbourne at one of its monthly meetings dinner meetings recently debated the question of content and its bias: human enrichment or commercial considerations? It was not much of a success’. — David Baker We cracked two directors. John Duigan was presented with the golden gong, despite his utter lack of experience as a director or engenderer of comedy. He spoke keenly, persuasively, cogently, of approaches to filming the script, and won the day, even if his proclivities were finally to the side of sobriety and naturalism .
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
It was then decided that we, myself, the director, and Max Gillies (associate producer), sit down and do some further work on the script. In consort we shortened it, tethered it together a bit more, excised redunancies, overlapped and telescoped scenes, incorporated expert cinematic advice. The result of these toils, though not absolutely final, was more than acceptable in spirit and direction to all those involved. Only the director at this stage seemed perturbed by instances of comedy in extremis, eg, the leitmotiv of a trotter flagellated by a midget reinsman, a death scene, an impossibly ubiquitous telegram boy, a vagabond peeing on a leg of lamb and his mate innocently devouring it with relish much later on, a race scene in which a draught horse flagellated by a female jockey wins a sprint. Some of these were compromised on and decently diluted. The resultant third draft was sent off to the AFC, not with a lot of confidence, as there was a general aura of disquiet about the fate of comedy at the AFC, a fear that they would reflexly slot it into the category of crude and distasteful ‘ocker’ comedy. O ur fears were vindicated. Two of the ‘assessments’were merely strident diatribes, full of snobbish fury and humourless platitudes, delivered by people patently incapable of or above handling comedy. It was felt that, if made, Dimboola would set back the Australian Film Juggernaut by 4-5 years, that it would besmirch A ust ralia’s image if it ever leaked overseas. The third assessment was favourable, felt that the script needed shortening and further cinematic refinement before being ready
for production. One out of three is not enough, and the AFC rejected Dimboola as an uncommercial proposition. T believe directors should be com m itted to script and sufficiently committed to change it — if they think it is the right thing to do’. —Tim Burstall The views of the AFC were generally held to be preposterous. An air of gloom, temporary paralysis, and even panic, prevailed. The ramifications of the AFC decision on the subsequent fate of the script were substantial and fairly im m ed iate, th at decision, for good or for bad, in effect eroded and undermined my position as writer central to the project. Instead of resolutely following the advice of the third assessment, it was felt that something more radical, even additive, was required. Crucial characters, characters who to me were essential to the drive, pith and am plitude of the film, now came under threat. The life of Worcestershire-Jones now hung in the exigent balance. Should he be expunged or am algamated with Shovel (streetsweeper, band conductor and composer, local historian, loner and cyclist, intended as a wierd soulmate and A ustralian character-contrast to the Englishman) who could be returning to Dimboola after some ten years absence or even a film m aker there for the weekend? M utton and Bayonet (possible father of the groom), two ribald vagabonds and p ara sites, as well as DDT Delaney (uncle of the bride and dipsomaniacal crop-duster) also came under threat. The purpose of these three characters, who maniacally zoom in on Dimboola over the first few days, was to
Bruce Spence (Morrie McAdam) is hauled into his Buck’s Night by his mates while Max Gillies (Vivian Worcestershire-Jones) observes the curious rite in Dimboola. A Pram Factory Pictures Production. Photo: Ponch Flawkes. winter. The responses to open sessions of be a centripetal dynamic force and to ping-pong in which one of the bats was rushes were generally exhilarating, lab make Dimboola the centre of a comic loaded. reports consistently confirmed fine quality. cosmos. The arguments against this were In a final script session, of my own At the time of writing (early September) that their mad gleeful journeys on arrangement, I argued successfully for the the editor, director and producer ensemble motorbike and in plane didn’t conform reinstatem ent of some things that had are daily huddled over the Moviola, with naturalistic tenets and that punc been lost, won compromises on others, and chortling I believe, then snipping and tuating the film with shots of them was bargained away others again. The cinema uncinematic. glueing in a gay frenzy, such is the as art, trade, and power. Not the sort of abundance and range of material. Positive This period of discussion and nego business for the sensitive artiste, parti tiation continued for a while, some cularly if the trading balances and the reports leak out. Let’s hope they are sub-plots and counterpoints became majority of fiscal corporations are against vindicated on the magically flickering weakened or token, while some were you. screen, for the process, especially in the fruitfully dissected out and strengthened. last half, was a bewildering, contradictory i had always intended to be actively, These strengthenings, while im portant in positively, involved up until the shooting and often painful one for this particular themselves, did however go hand in hand script stage, then leave the director, editor writer. with curtailm ents and rationalizations of etc to their own creative filmic bents and ‘To lose a scene in your script, I know, the original broad comic world of the film. devices. I was fortunate enough, however, Jack, is like losing a limb or a ‘The “ A uteur” argument I used in the in the Dimboola project to be allowed to child . . . . I have never yet known a Symposium discussion (ie that the take a p art in casting and to attend as writer yet who has been happy in his role director is responsible for everything much of the ‘shoot’ as I wished. Needless in a film . . . .’ that goes into a film including the script) to say, the general reluctance of the film —John Weiley is I’m sure a red rag to most writers.’ industry to encourage the attendance of a ‘Today I’d be tougher. If a film were to be — Tim Burstall writer at filming is one of the more made of something of mine I’d be bor philistine and precious bigotries operating ingly and maddeningly underfoot pro Somewhere around this time Greater in the art. How else can the writer acquire tecting the home product so that it Union offered substantial support for the a working knowledge of those unique wasn’t deformed, decorated, blown up, project, based on the third draft I believe cinematic qualities which are so often used pruned, “ interpreted” by some and representations by the producer John in argum ent against him? Unless of course mechanic and his gang of mechanics’. Weiley. Also around this time the director, there is a lot of defensive and territorial — Hal Porter unopposed by the producer-complex, bulldust thrown around. Antonioni opined ‘It is easy to achieve proficiency and began to re-write, re-structure, re-scissor that you really only needed to know two or professionalism at a technical level — and add new written material of his own to three thum b-rules to make a film. I just we’ve done that for years in our the screenplay. These versions, not mere know that someone is going to say that his television commercials — but to make launderings angled towards the acquisi films show it. significant films you need content.' tion of funds, were largely what the The film was shot in a remarkable five —Phillip Adams quoted director wanted to write and shoot. Two of weeks, with the invaluable and generous by Keith Connolly these versions gained funding from the drive of an enthusiastic film and produc VFC and NSWFC. From a position of tion, crew with the unstinting open NB All the quotes in this article, except relative impotence, I replied with versions support of the Dimboola townspeople, in those of John Weiley, are taken from of my own, in an absurd game of the face of unrelenting grey days and a wet ‘Tension on the Reel’, Overland No.71. Max Gillies (Vivian W.J.) taken aback by Natalie Bate (Maureen — the bride) in Dimboola a Pram Factory Pictures Production. Photo: Ponch Hawkes.
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Stanley appreciates one of Australia’s favourite stars
RSC’s Hamlet, A.s Gertrude in Stratford 1959.
Withers & McCalJum in Roar Like a in I960 he ComP‘a
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
After six years away from the Australian months before em barking for A ustralia stage, Googie W ithers will be returning to she had made her classical debut by the scene of former triumphs when, on playing a well received Gertrude and November 29, she opens at M elbourne’s Beatrice opposite Redgrave’s Hamlet and Comedy in William Douglas Home’s The Benedick at Stratford-upon-Avon. Had Kingfisher. The season is scheduled to last she rem ained in England at that period, eight weeks, followed by a similar period in who knows what heights she would have Sydney. attained; perhaps been made a Dame. Miss W ithers — or Googie as she Instead she elected to accompany automatically is referred to by everyone — McCallum to Australia. will find a very different theatre atmos One of the top women stars of British phere to those days in the early and films throughout the forties and early mid-sixties when she was virtually First fifties Googie, who had acted minor stage Lady of the Australian stage. Commercial roles in the thirties, transferred her theatre has very nearly disappeared, and celluloid star quality to the stage with with it much of the kind of starry glamour greater ease and success than did several and sparkle Googie provided. of her contemporaries. Many of those who packed perform In 1943 she had played opposite John ances of a Googie Withers play obviously Clements in Priestley’s play of ideas They will want to revive old memories. Younger Came to a City, in 1945, taken over from theatre-goers, to whom she is a legendary Kay H am m ond in Private Lives and in name, known by repute but not yet 1949 briefly shined with Irene W orth in a glimpsed, will want to see how the reality short-lived Ronald Millar play, Cham measures up to the legend. pagne fo r Delilah. The pity is that Googie will not be Her powerful portrayal of the longappearing in a classical role. It is a regret suffering wife of an alcoholic in Winter she herself must secretly be sharing, that is Journey made audiences and critics alike unless she has changed her mind from that regard her with a new respect, which grew day early in 1961 when I first interviewed when she replaced Peggy Ashcroft in her. R attigan’s The Deep Blue Sea. Then “ In a way I see the theatre in Australia followed the unfaithful wife convicted of as a challenge” , she told me. “ I’ve no m anslaughter in M illar’s rather im plaus desire to appear continuously in one light ible Waiting fo r Gillian, with husband comedy after another. I’d like to play John McCallum and Frank Lawton. Hedda Gabler, portray some Shavian Googie’s first introduction to Australia women, do Shakespeare and Chekhov — and New Zealand came in 1955-56 when plays that virtually are unknown to the the McCallums toured in The Deep Blue Sea and the Alan Melville comedy Simon general Australian public” . We were in her dressing room at the and Laura. They endeared themselves to Comedy, where she was resting after a Australian audiences and the warmth of matinee of Clifford O dets’ Winter Journey. their reception probably influenced the She had been much acclaimed for playing decision to permanently settle and work in the role in London with Michael Redgrave the country in 1958. and Sam W anam aker, and was re-creating Before this, apart from the Stratford her perform ance for Australia. Brian season, Googie appeared with McCallum James and the late Clement McCallin were in London in 1957 in Janus, an American her leading men; Noel Ferrier and Barry comedy (Jessie Matthews was performing Creyton were also in the cast. it in Australia) which, unworthy of the At the same time Googie was in couple’s talents, did not last long. rehearsal for Constance in M augham ’s Soon after arrival in Australia they The Constant Wife. Originally performed played together in Lesley Storm’s light in the 1920s, it was being back-dated to weight comedy Roar Like a Dove, in which the Edwardian era to allow her to look McCallum had appeared for nearly a year stunning in some beautiful period cos in London and now directed for Australia. tumes, at the same time making the It attracted capacity audiences. dialogue seem almost Wildean. During that 1961 interview Googie A little over two years before her talked earnestly of her desire to assist in husband, John McCallum, had been pioneering better theatre in Australia. She appointed assistant managing director to was aware it would be an uphill struggle. J C Williamson Theatres Limited, at that There was no national company and JCWs time the greatest theatrical empire in the received no subsidies to offset any losses it Southern Hemisphere. There seemed little might incur in staging the classics, which doubt that ultimately he would become the happened with commercial managments biggest figure in commercial theatre — in London. (JCWs did in fact establish its and in those days commercial theatre own touring Shakespeare company, meant professional theatre as opposed to inaugurated by McCallum, but apparently amateur. Except for the UTRC (now public response did not warrant its MTC), there was nothing half way. continuation). To some it looked as if Googie was W ith the Odets and Maugham plays, imaking a big sacrifice in transferring her both directed by John Sumner, audiences career to the other side of the world. Only saw a very dram atic Withers as well as an
expert perform er of light comedy, two very different but equally polished and stylish performances. Then came a break whilst Googie made her Broadway debut in G raham Greene’s The Complaisant Lover, with Redgrave and Richard Johnson. Back in A ustralia Googie’s next por trayal, towards the end of 1962, was of a sloppy, good-natured, easy-going, middleaged housewife in Ted Willis’s Woman in a Dressing Gown. Originally a TV play, then film, Willis had revised it for the stage and, after its world premiere in Melbourne, the intention was for Googie to do it in London. It was a clever performance she gave, overcoming the triteness of plot and lines, infusing hum our into the part and even achieving moments of pathos. Audiences loved her in this mediocre play and it enjoyed a successful tour. Instead of repeating Woman in a Dressing Gown in London, however, Googie played Queen M arguerite in Ionesco’s Exit the K ing opposite Alec Guinness at the 1963 Edinburgh Festival, transferring to London’s Royal Court. Soon after her return to Australia, she told me it was her intention to appear in a play in New York or London every two years. W ith McCallum now joint managing director of JCWs, one assumed she would have the pick of women’s roles in contemporary plays. Frequently possible parts loomed on the horizon, only to be turned down for various reasons. There were rum ours she would play M artha in Albee’s W ho’s A fraid o f Virginia Woolf; but it was not the sort of play JCWs cared to present, and might not be good for Googie’s image. Another possible was Catlin in Dylan, the American play about Dylan Thomas; Googie would only do it if Guinness could be persuaded to come to Australia and repeat his Tony Award winning performance. There was even talk of her appearing in Hello Dolly, and then in M arne. . . . To coincide with the 400th birthday celebrations of William Shakespeare in 1964, Googie appeared with Keith Michell in The First 400 Years, a Shakespearean programme arranged by English dram a critic Alan Dent, with a cast of ten. It consisted of scenes from the Bard’s plays. Since Googie’s Shakespearean initiation had only been six years before, it was brave of her to play opposite the thoroughly experienced Michell. In my opinion she was most stylish as Portia in the Bassaniocasket scene and as Beatrice. Her shrewish Kate possessed a different brand of humour with which she capably coped. On the first night I felt there was too much tenderness creeping into the voice of her Queen M argaret in the third part of Henry VI; there should have been more venom and bitterness. And the choice from A s You Like It was not perhaps the best for Googie who, in a Robin Hood outfit,
looked rather like a hearty English pantomime principal boy about to burst into song! Her Gertrude, in the closet scene, seemed merely a springboard for Michell’s Hamlet. The programme was presented in three parts, the last segment consisting of a forty minute potted version of Antony and Cleopatra. Michell of course had played Antony before, but Googie seemed to me more than able to match him with her performance. Personally I found The First 400 Years a most scintillating experience, but audiences unfortunately were not drawn to it. It might have been preferable to have presented a full-scale production of Antony and Cleopatra. The following year she played in Samuel Taylor’s comedy Beekman Place, which personally I loathed, geared as it was to matinee-type audiences. Googie, as Lady Piper, walked through the play with her usual aplomb, head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. In M arch 1966 she was seen in her one and only Australian play, Desire o f the M oth by james Brazil. Highly melo dramatic, and set on the homestead of a NSW sheep farm, it had Googie, as the wealthy property owner, having twenty one years before m arried a farm hand (Ed Devereaux) to give a name to the baby she was pregnant with by someone else. A ‘Virginia Woolf’ relationship had sprung up between the couple and, when her former lover — an alcoholic — appeared on the scene, she sent him to his death, afterwards lapsing into insanity. Opening cold, the play required con siderably more work done on it and needed all of Googie’s skill to make it seem plausible; even then it sometimes was greeted with laughter in the wrong places. A big flop at the box office, stories afterwards circulated that Googie and the play were the cause of the disagreements between McCallum (by then sole m an aging director) and the JCW board, which led to his eventual resignation. A 1967 all-star West End production of Shaw’s Getting Married saw Googie playing Mrs George along with such luminaries as Moira Lister, Ian Carmichael, M argaret Rawlings and Alec Clunes. Back in Australia the following year (playing for a management other than JCWs, Phillip Productions), she and McCallum appeared in the first Ayckbourne play seen here, Relatively Speaking, with Peter Adams and Rowena Wallace. It presented some first class acting. Talking to McCallum in Sydney after the opening night, he informed me of his plans, in association with London prod ucer Peter Bridge (who had presented Getting Married), to assemble a company with himself, Googie and Australian actors from England and Australia, and mount a
The M c a n u m ’s in their last p|ay together in Australia, Relatively S p e a k im ;^ *
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
production of W ilde’s A n Ideal Husband. It would tour Canada, then Australia, followed, he hoped, by formation of a national company with government sub sidies. The scheme never materialised. Towards the end of 1969, Googie had one of her biggest Australian stage successes for several years: Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite. In different acts she played a middle-aged woman trying to hold to gether her marriage, a flightly young blonde willingly being seduced by a former boy friend, now a successful Hollywood producer, and finally the mother of a reluctant bride. Never before had she displayed such versatility in one evening and it was all great fun. Her leading man, brought from America, was Alfred Sandor (now in TV’s The Young Doctors). Googie’s sole Australian film, Nickel Queen (and her first movie for sixteen years), came in 1971. It did not call for her to exert much acting prowess, but merely displayed an extension of her off-screen self; she was photographed looking most attractive in a succession of glamorous outfits. The picture, directed by McCallum, with Ed Devereaux, Alfred Sandor, John Laws, Ross Thompson, Tom Oliver and daughter Joanna in the cast, was a disappointment. Googie’s last Australian performances, in 1972, were with the Melbourne Theatre Company: M adame Ranevsky in The Cherrys Orchard and Mrs Cheveley in An Ideal Husband. Both productions were highly praised by most critics, but I was dissatisfied. On the first night direction of the Chekhov play seemed to me most tentative and, instead of ensemble playing, appeared geared to Googie as its Star; later, in the TV version, she and the production seemd a great deal better. The Wilde play disappointed even more. Googie (on opening night at least), seemed to have been misdirected and to have prior awareness when delivering an epigram matic line. Despite further attem pts to make her the Big Star, she was greatly overshadowed by other members of the company. I rate Mrs Cheveley right at the very bottom of all the performances I have seen her give. Regretfully I did not see her Lady Kitty in M augham ’s The Circle, which she played first at the Chichester Festival in 1976, then for a year at London’s Haymarket. From all that I have read and heard, it must really have been something. Now we shall see Googie, McCallum and Frank Thring playing the roles in The Kingfisher originally created by Celia Johnson, Ralph Richardson and Alan Webb. The play is by William Douglas Home whose many credits include The Chiltern Hundreds, The M anor o f Norstead, The Reluctant Debutante, The Secretary Bird, The Jockey Club Stakes, Lloyd George Knew My Father and The Dame o f Sark. And after this Australian season — what then for Googie? It seems probable she will be in the next Chichester Festival season, perhaps as Lady Bracknell in The Importance o f Being Earnest. 18
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
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4 Whiting Street, Artarmon 2064. Telephone 439 1962 19 Trent Street, Burwood 2134. Telephone 29 3724 50-52 Vulture Street, West End, Brisbane 4101. Telephone 44 2851 101-105 Mooringe Avenue, Camden Par*, SA 5038. Telephone 294 6555 430 Newcastle Street, Perth 6000 Telephone 328 3933 <20 Parry Street, Newcastle 2309. Telephone 26 2466 25 Molonglo Mall, Fyshwick 2600. Telephone 95 2144
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We’re only as good as the attractions w e present.... Th e T o w n s v ille C ivic T h e a tre 1978 program includes...Brian M ay and the M elbourne Showband*, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered* Suicide/When the Rainbow is E nuf”, (Adelaide Festival)* Judy Bailey/ Dutch Tilders*, “La Sylphide” (Qld. Ballet), “Slightly Jewish and Madly G ay”, Andy Stewart (Stadiums Limited), Queensland Symphony O rchestra (ABC), “In Praise of Love” (Twelfth Night)* “The Thoughts of Chairm an Alf” (QAC), “Snow W hite and the Seven Dwarfs” (Rudas), Long Island Y outh Orchestra,* Mike McClellan (QAC), “The Christian Brothers” (Nimrod)* Rolf Harris (ATA), Johnnie Ray*, Dick Emery (Vidette), Hans Richter Haaser (QAC)*, “Sleuth” (QTC) *Entrepreneurial participation by Townsville City Council.
We are now>bookingfor 1979. N ote: Two capacities available. Standard 1066 seats.
Divider curtain and moveable proscenium converts theatre to 382 “intimate” capacity. iff Forfurther information contact: John L. Lamb, Director, Townsville Civic Theatre, Box 5181, MSO Townsville 4810. Telephone: (077) 72-2677.
How many theatres can claim to have staged a play down a mine with the miners’ head lamps switched on to provide the footlights? In 1952, to the advantage of American oil corporations, the Menzies Government closed down the shale mine oil refinery at Glen Davis in NSW The miners reacted with a stay-in strike that had been in progress for two weeks when the Miners Federation invited Sydney New Theatre to perform their current play The Candy Store below ground. The experience at Glen Davis was one of the highlights of the theatre’s last years at the Castlereagh Street address. The major event however was the first season, commencing in 1953, of Reedy River, Dick D iam ond’s Australian folk musical play that had had its world premiere at Melbourne New Theatre not long before. Its plot revolving around a shearers’ strike of the 1890s, Reedy River intro duced to Australian audiences a number of traditional folk songs and some new ones in the folk tradition with music and lyrics by several contemporary composers and writers — for example the theme music for the Reedy River, song by Chris Kempster to words by Henry Lawson and “The Ballad of 1891” with words by Helen Palmer and music by Doreen Jacobs. There is little doubt that Reedy River featuring the Bushwhackers Band and popularising songs like “ Click Go The Shears” , “ My Old Black Billy” , “Eumerella Shore” , “ Widgiegoweera Joe” and many more gave the then infant Australian folk song revival its most im portant impetus. An LP record of songs from the show sung by members of the* Sydney production was issued by Diaphon and soon became a hit when played over a number of radio stations. New Theatre groups in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and later Newcastle, all mounted their own Reedy River produc tions which like Sydney and Melbourne, they performed not only in their normal venues but in numerous city, suburban and country halls. It is estimated that some 450,000 people saw these New Theatre performances of Reedy River and that 350,000 of these saw Sydney New Theatre productions. Publication of the play by H einem ann’s has introduced it
PART 2 COLD WAR AND AFTER Mona Brand completes her history of the New Theatre Movement.
into schools, where it is often put on by pupils. When the Masonic Club purchased the building, Sydney New Theatre was comp elled to leave 167 Castlereagh Street and Reedy River completed its successful season at the W aterside Workers Federa tion hall in Sussex Street, where for the next nine years thirty-three New Theatre productions were staged “ under the auspices of the W aterside Workers Feder ation.” The Sydney Morning Herald's failure to review New Theatre productions after their critic’s praise in 1948 of The Star Turns Red by Sean O ’Casey was soon followed by their refusal for a number of years to accept a paid advertisement. Today’s New Theatre Secretary, Miriam Hampson, recalls that a cheque sent as usual with the advertisement two weeks in advance, was returned. When the theatre queried this and made efforts from time to time to submit an ad across the counter, the explanation given was “ lack of space” . It was only after a personal discussion took place in the early 1960s between a Herald top executive and the late Jim Healy, Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, that advertisements and reviews of New Theatre shows returned to
the columns of that paper. (The story goes that Jim Healy mentioned the fact that wharfies load and unload newsprint.) Advertisements did appear in the less influential classified section of the Daily Telegraph, but the scarcity of reviews of New Theatre productions in the Sydney dailies between 1948 and 1960 removed the name of this group from general public notice. Only Tribune, some trade union papers, an occasional mention on the radio — plus all im portant “word of m outh” — informed theatre goers during those twelve years that twenty-one new Australian works were presented as well as plays of world renown like Six Men o f Dorset, The Alchemist, Juno and the Pay cock, An Inspector Calls, Lysistrata, An Inspector General, The Good Soldier Schweik, Arm s and the Man, The Crucible, The Biggest T hief in Town, Nekrassov, The Quare Fellow, and many others. And in those days few of these plays could be seen elsewhere in Sydney. These publicity difficulties were symp tomatic of the 1950s. In America McCarthyism reached its peak with the execution in 1953 of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg on charges of espionage still considered by many to have been fab ricated. The theatre and film world had suffered the gaoling of the “ Hollywood Ten” . Comparatively minor reverberations in Australia included the 1954 Petrov Commission, designed, in the opinion of many, to discredit the Labor Party and all left-wing associates. New Theatre expected Establishm ent disfavour, but some of it was surprising — for example the last minute cancellation in Sydney in 1954 of a western suburbs town hall that had been hired for a performance of Reedy River. In the same year an attem pt was made to prevent the showing of Better A Millstone (a play about juvenile delinquency) in a church hall in North Sydney. But 1962 saw a definite upswing in New Theatre’s fortunes. T hat year John B arnard’s production of The Long and the Short and the Tall by Willis Hall won first prize in the NSW Arts Council D ram a Festival. The theatre repeated this trium ph the following year with their entry of Our ‘Dear' Relations, my satire on the commercialism of M other’s Day with a cast including M artin Harris, Mark
Reedy River (1953) Camp fire scene, Brian Loughlin, Chris Dempster, Edm und Allison, Lionel Parker and Joe Moore
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Edwards, Jean Blue and Vincent Gil, directed by Nan Gow and Norma Disher and with a set designed by Robert Bruning. A performance of Reedy River in the Roxy at Newcastle by local players in 1957, led to the formation that year of Newcastle New Theatre. During its twenty one years this branch has staged some forty five major productions and holds regular workshops, play readings, poetry readings and film nights. Between 1962 and 1972 their home was “The Dungeon” — once a beer cellar in the basement of the Trades Hall. Performing sometimes there and sometimes at the University, and in recent years at the TPI Association’s Scott Street rooms where they are tenants, their productions have mainly been the same as those performed by other New Theatres. Their most recent production is the world premiere of the rock opera, Everyman and His Dog by one of their own members, Gary Roberts. An organisation known as New Theatre Australia was formed in the early 1950s to link all the State branches in a national body that held conferences every Easter to establish policy, exchange experience and plays, organise participation in the inter national peace movement and to plan New Theatre national dram a schools. These six-day schools were held each Christmas for ten years and rotated between the branches. Among leading theatre personalities invited to address the schools were Robin Lovejoy, Ron Haddrick, John Bell, Zoe Caldwell and Brian Syron. As New Theatres in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth disbanded leaving only Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle, the need for a national body became less im portant and it ceased to function. But mutual assist ance between the remaining groups con tinues in the form of play exchange, visits to each other’s productions and the provision of acting classes. In 1963 the Sydney theatre moved to St Peter’s Lane near Kings Cross where members and friends had converted a former indoor car park to an intimate theatre. The ten years spent there were marked by many successes and some good press coverage of The Wall, The World o f Sholem Aleichem, Andorra, M other Courage and many other productions including the six months season in 1967 of On Stage Vietnam. This ensemble effort by writers, director, choreographers and actors was almost certainly the first of the Australian documentary musicals. On Stage Vietnam in 1967, and Going, Going, Gone in 1968, used music, drama, narrative and vaudeville treatm ent of politicians to introduce a new type of format that was soon to be seen at the Jane Street, the Nimrod and the APG. But the St Peter’s Lane event causing the biggest public sensation was John Tasker’s production in 1968 of Jean Claude Van Italie’s three-part play, America Hurrah, the third segment of which was banned on moral grounds by the NSW Chief Secretary*. While the season continued with the banned segment replaced by a satire on the situation, a broad committee called “ Friends of America Hurrah ", prepared plans for a 20
T H E A T R E A U ST R A LIA N O V EM B E R 1978
one-night performance of the unaltered version. This played to a packed house in the Teachers Federation auditorium while thousands of people thronged Sussex Street outside hoping in vain to get in. Audience excitement ran high at the end of the third segment when the police attem pted to arrest the two heavily disguised “ dolls” in the cast as they made a dash for an auditorium door. They appeared to vanish, but protected by other cast members they shed their costumes and actually returned to mingle with other cast members who were trying to stop the police from tearing down the set to take it away as evidence. There were no prosecu tions, and some time later the confiscated pieces of the set were returned. Needing more space for major produc tions, workshop, acting classes, children’s theatre and street theatre rehearsals, Sydney New theatre moved in 1973 to the present address in King Street Newtown where, for the first time, it owns its own building — a former factory that members, unions and friends transformed into a modern “little theatre” possessing one of Sydney’s biggest stages. Two years later the Australia Council made a grant of $57,000 to help pay off the premises. Among the box office successes at Newtown have been the smash hit One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest directed by Stanley Walsh; John Tasker’s production of The Changing Room; and John Armstrong’s 1978 production of Friday the Thirteenth a play about Jack Lang, by Australian writer Kevin Morgan. During this same period Jerome Levy’s sensitive and superbly dressed The Captain o f Kopenick reminded audiences that the New’s tradition of presenting not only contemporary Australian, British and American works but also older plays of European origin was still alive and well. Over the years Melbourne New Theatre has staged many of the same plays as its Sydney counterpart, as well as some of its own locally written dramas and revues. Functioning now at the Organ Factory at Clifton Hill since moving from the Pram Factory (premises they originally found and shared with the APG) Melbourne New Theatre says it is “ concerned with presenting plays that not only appeal to but have direct bearing on the lives of everyday people.” The Melbourne Times is the only paper consistently reviewing their shows now, most daily papers including The Age having stopped sending critics to
am ateur theatres. Sydney New Theatre has experienced a similar handicap since The Herald advised in 1976 that they would no longer by sending critics to the “little theatres” — a decision that deals a blow not only at the little theatres concerned, but at the theatre scene generally when one recalls how many of today’s professionals received their early experience and press notices while appear ing on am ateur stages. Formed in 1932 Sydney New Theatre is now A ustralia’s oldest existing theatre, professional or amateur. Among the well known people associated with it at the beginning of their careers have been actors like Alan Herbert, Ken W arren, John Grey, D inah Shearing, Jean Blue, Hazel Phillips, M ark McManus, M artin Harris, Maggie Kirkpatrick, Jennie Cullen, Rod Williams, Howard Vernon, Carole Skinner, Tessa Malos, John Hargreaves, Vincent Gil and Lorna Leslie. Those who have both directed and acted include Jerold Wells, Jerome Levy, Edm und Allison, John Armstrong, Robert Bruning, Marie Armstrong and Nan Vernon, while guest directors and set designers who have helped to create standards for the New and consequently for the wider Australian theatre scene are Lloyd Lamble, John Tasker, M argaret Barr, Stanley Walsh, Brian Syron, William Constable, Elaine Haxton, Cedric Flower, Roderick Shaw and John Cervenka. But despite present publicity problems Sydney New Theatre last year reiterated its determination “ To continue its role as a socially relevant and committed theatre” — a policy that is harder to carry out today than in the past because of the difficulty of obtaining first Australian rights for the sort of plays that not many years ago only New Theatre would have performed. But although this provides new problems, it also brings new challenges; at the same time it is a source of satisfaction to New Theatre members that the pioneering role of their theatre has helped to open the way for a wider general acceptance of socially relevant drama. *FOOTNOTE All three parts of American Hurrah satirise the worst aspect of the American way of life. In the third segment two big dolls scrawl obscenities on the walls of a motel room. All photographs in this article have been supplied by the New Theatre, kindly loaned by Edm und Allison.
Here Under Heaven (1961) by Mona Brand, directed by Robert Bruning. L. to R. Jennie Cullen, Charles Johnson, Patsy Robertson, Eileen Ryan.
Good Soldier Schweik (1956) Les Hope as landlord, John Armstrong as Schweik(R)
Ron Challinor (Stanley Jefferson), Collette Mann (Kate Laurel) in the MTC’s production of Gone With Hardy. Photo: David Parker.
Definitely requires more re-writing GONE W IT H HARDY RAYMOND STANLEY Gone With Hardy by D a v id A lle n . Melbourne Theatre Company, Russell Street Theatre, Melbourne, Vic. Opened 21 September 1978. Director. R a y L a w le r ; Designer. S te v e N o la n ; Choreography, C o le tte M a n n ; Musical direction, D a v id A lla r d lc e . Stanley Jefferson. R on C h a llin o r ; Kate Laurel. C o le tte M a n n ; Jock McTavish. T o m m y D y s a r t; The Assistant, D e t le f B a u e r.
According to a programme note for Gone With Hardy “ although the initial idea for the play was generated by an actual relationship in the early life of Stan Laurel, David Allen has imaginatively supplied all the details and this is not a biographical work” . It would be interesting to know what facts the author had to work upon originally, and perhaps indication of what researches he made. Despite the pro gramme note, it is likely to create false facts about Laurel, which ultimately many will believe to be true. It is almost like trading in on a person’s name. If a play is
really good, then there is no reason why it should not rest on its own merits with a fictitious character. Stanley Jefferson is presented as a north country comedian working on the same vaudeville bill as Scottish comic Jock McTavish and Australian singer Kate Laurel. Kate and Stan become a double act with he writing the gags, devising the act and directing; soon she becomes his de facto wife and he takes the name ‘Laurel’ from her. She apparently has a husband back in Australia, which McTavish dis covers and blackmails her into giving him favours on threat of telling Stan. Stan eventually ends up in Hollywood where the possessive Kate proves a liability. McTavish, now a Hollywood producer, persuades her to return to Australia to obtain a divorce, with Stan indicating he will then marry her. In the meantime he teams up with Oliver Hardy. Soon after K ate’s departure he marries the first of his five wives and she attem pts a comeback in her native land, fully realising Stan has ‘gone with Hardy’. The piece is structured to afford opportunities for the three to perform variety numbers solo, in duets or trios. For the most part it holds together and, with
more work, could become quite a durable vehicle and achieve success wherever the great film comic’s name is known. It most definitely requires more re-writing though. One suspects that, since the play’s director is playwright Ray Lawler, he presumably will have knocked it into better shape than its original script. The problems of opening a play ‘cold’ here are of course as well known as the fact Broadway hits frequently have the advan tage of a ‘doctoring’ try-out tour. I suggest the MTC could at least have ‘workshopped’ this one; better still, it could have been given a Victorian country try-out. Whilst it is adm itted dramatic licence has been taken with Laurel’s life, certain misfacts come out in production which careful checking could have eliminated. There is really no excuse and director Lawler must share the blame. For instance: Ella Shields’ “ Burlington Bertie” seems to have been confused with that of Vesta Tilley, “ The Road to G undagai” was certainly not around in 1910 and K ate is far more likely to have performed at the Tivoli in Melbourne rather than the King’s. In 1912 Charlie Chaplin would not be known for his bowler, twirling cane and facial contorT H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
tions, which Laurel impersonates. In a 1920 rendition of Berlin’s “ P uttin’ on the Ritz” (1930) is a backcloth of shows not around that year (i.e. “ Wild Flower” , “ Lady Be Good” , etc). Then Stan occasionally hums “ Dance of the Cuckoos” (his subsequent theme tune with Hardy) which jars a little. Personally I thought the world war one song medley (and community singing from audience of “ Pack Up Your Troubles” ) unnecessary. Obviously it would be popular with matinee-type commercial audiences, but somewhat out of place with those patronising the MTC. Ron Challinor is little short of brilliant as Laurel. Always authoritative, he becomes a very believable character, serious and dedicated to building up the act and little by little taking on the mannerisms and guise of the film star. At times the likeness is uncanny. But nowhere does he fit in with the description given in the programme by film director George Stevens of Stan before working at Roach Studios: “ He laughed and smiled too much as a comedian. He needed and wanted laughs so much that he made a habit of laughing at himself as a player.” Throughout Tommy Dysart is a tower of strength as McTavish, finally evaporating into a very believable Oliver Hardy. As written though, the character of the Scot undergoes great changes. Originally a good Scottish comic, he deteriorates through drink, is argumentative and offstage a rather dirty old man; then suddenly he becomes strong, practical and a businesslike film producer. Colette Mann, looking good with a big personality, provides solid support, but too often her character — as written — is rather cliche-ridden.
A champagne and caviar evening TH E M ASTERS___________ RAYMOND STANLEY The Masters, combining some of the works of Noel Coward and Ivor Novello, compiled and written by J u n e B r o n h ill, O ls e n , B r ia n C r o s s le y and R e x W r e n n a ll. Opened 21 September 1978. Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, Vic. Produced by G e o f fr e y B e ll and R e x W r e n n a ll; Director, B r ia n C r o s s le y ; Lighting and design, R e x W r e n n a ll. With J u n e B r o n h ill and D e n n is O ls e n . Piano accompaniment, F r e d d ie P h illip s . (Professional) D e n n is
It is becoming quite fashionable to stage pot pourri attractions devoted to the works of particular composers such as Noel Coward, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Stephen Sondheim and (in Melbourne) George Gershwin. Such programmes can contain a lot of familiar and not so familiar songs of the composers, plus biographical details and anecdotes about them. The field is wide and the appeal enormous. As far as I know there has not been such a programme featuring Ivor Novello, although at one time one was rum oured for the M ermaid (to be directed by Robert Helpmann I believe). Then a few months ago in Hull a new musical was staged entitled Novello, tracing his life and 22
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
containing sixteen of his songs; but it does not appear to have been successful. It is therefore a surprise one should originate in Australia, where only Novello’s The Dancing Years has ever been professionally staged. But then perhaps not so surprising considering one of the originators of this show — June Bronhill — has starred in several English productions of Novello’s musicals. She it is who, along with Dennis Olsen, presents Novello as part of a double composer programme entitled The Masters. Maybe they had doubts about the box office appeal of Novello, and so threw in another ‘m aster’ for good measure — Noel Coward. Fair enough, particularly when one realises the careers of the two in some ways ran parallel courses. Both acted on stage and in films — frequently in their own work — contri buted m aterial for revues, and were the only British composers to provide full scale musicals in the ’30’s which had mini operettas encased. Novello was noted for his sentimental music, although Coward could also write in the same vein, and Novello was also capable of displaying a wit. Coward had the edge on Novello in that he also sang in some of his shows and revues, and always wrote his own lyrics. Except to send himself up (as in Careless Rapture), Novello rarely sang, and Perchance to Dream was the only musical he also contributed the lyrics; Alan Melville supplied them for G ay’s The Word, Christopher Hassall for all his other big musicals. Apart from interspersed medleys of both at the beginning and end of the show, the first half is devoted to Novello, the second to Coward. There are two grand pianos on stage (it has an elegant, tasteful setting), with Freddie Phillips at the keyboard of one most of the time, with just occasionally — when enacting a scene with Bronhill — Olsen having opportunities to display another of his many talents: pianist. The two talk, sing, dance, relate anecdotes and act out scenes, all beautifully entertwined without any awkward moments. Probably because less is known abuut Novello here, a general run-down of his career is given, broken up by numbers from his musicals. There are the inevitable songs like “ Keep the Home Fires
Burning” , “ W e’ll G ather Lilacs” and a full scene (plus songs) from The Dancing Years. There is also an over-long montage of num bers from G ay’s The Word, with some rather over-done ‘business’ intended to be funny, which could be deleted with profit. Cis Courtneidge’s show-stopper “ Vitality” sags because the original featured names of past English greats and — rightfully — the devisers have substi tuted these for people like Evie Hayes, Queenie Paul and Gloria Dawn. But the impact is lost. Highlights in the first half are Bronhill singing “ Someday My H eart Will Awake” , The Dancing Years’ numbers and an off-beat “ Shanty Town” (originally sung by Elizabeth Welch), with Olsen scoring in “ And Her M other Came Too” . The Coward tribute manages to avoid m aterial already featured in Cowardy Custard and Oh Coward!, but hardly any of it is ‘unknown’. There are several speaking oddm ents familiar through the recordings made by Coward with the late M argaret Leighton. Also there is a less familiar scene from Private Lives, exquisit ely performed, but perhaps holding up the action. However, it does serve to highlight the fact Bronhill possesses quite a flair for light comedy and some managements might take note she can do more than sing. O utstanding are Bronhill’s rendition of “ M elanie’s A ria” in French from Conversation Piece, her almost music hall interpretation of “ Chase Me Charlie” , the duo’s music lesson from Bitter Sweet and a very funny cockney rendition by the two of “ T hat Is The End Of The News” (written for Joyce Grenfell and the only num ber she perform ed on stage not written by herself), which gained most applause on the second night. For me the evening produces three rarities, each perfectly executed by Olsen: “ I’ll Make Myself at Home, D ear” written by Novello for the 1916 musical Theodore & Co, Coward’s “ She Was A Good Girl T hen” and “ Auntie Jessie” . All in all it is a champagne and caviar evening in the theatre, a delightful experience seldom encountered in these message-ridden and obscurity-minded seventies. Highest marks to all concerned. It is to be hoped a double LP souvenir of the evening will be issued, plus perhaps a couple of TV programmes made.
The Goethe Institute in association with the Victorian Arts Council is pleased to announce
Acompetition for children's plays.
Black’s Ballet Included in the range of ballet books from A & C Black are:
We are seeking scripts dealing with contemporary Australian subject m atter portraying everyday life. The plays should be suitable for the 10 - 14 age g roup.' Scripts are welcomed from professional and non-professional writers, young and old, indivduals and groups.
T e a c h in g Y o u n g D a n c e r s : L a w so n Gives essential information for both teachers and students on the relationship between co-ordination and chair reactions and dance movements. B e g in n in g B a lle t: L a w so n An introductory handbook for young dancers giving instructions for practice at home and how to choose a teacher and different types of training. K n o w in g In My B o n e s : F o r ste r This book explores the nature of movement and its quality of expression. A book of great interest to anyone involved in teaching the expressive arts. Available from
Ed w ard A rn o ld (Australia) Pty.Ltd.
A first prize of $1,000 is offered with a second prize of $500. Cast size should be limited to five or six. Preference will be given to full-length scripts (about 90 minutes) It is expected that the winning entry will receive a fully professional production, and the Victorian Film Corporation will consider the suitability of adapting the winning script to the film or television media. It is hoped that the winning script will be of a sufficient standard to be considered for publication. A second category covers shorter scripts on the same kinds o f subjects-fifteen to twenty minute sketches dealing with aspects o f contemporary life as they affect 10-14 year old Australians.
A fust prize of $300 is offered in this category with three other prizes each of $ 100. The judges are drawn from people active in children’s theatre - Helmut Bakaitis, Artistic Director, St. Martin’s Centre, Peter Tulloch, Artistic Director, Children’s Arena Theatre and Don Mackay, Director, Victorian Arts Council. The competition is jointly funded by the Goethe Institute and the Victorian Ministry for the Arts, and is being administered by the Victorian Arts Council. Entries should be typewritten on one side of the paper only.
The dosing date is 28 th Febuary, 1979 Entnes and enquiries should be addressed to The Victorian Arts Council, 9/545 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004.
373 Bay Street, Port Melbourne. 3207 Tel: 64-1346
For your ticket needs in Sydney and Melbourne ¡Harry M Miller’s
CComputicket Bringsthe boxofficetoyou. Where to get your tickets in Sydney.
Where to get your tickets in Melbourne.
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CITY MYER, Lonsdale St store, ground floor • CITY CELEBRITY SERVICES, Tivoli Arcade • CITY 1st Floor, 239-241 Collins St • BALLARAT MYER, Sturt St • BENDIGO MYER, 91 Pall Mall • CHADST0NE MYER, Level 4, adjacent Traveland • DANDEN0NG MYER, Level 3 • DONCASTER MYER, Level 1 • EASTLAND MYER Level 1, near Traveland • FRANKSTON MYER, Level 1 • GEELONG MYER, Level 3 • HIGH POINT WEST MYER, Level 3 • KNOX CITY MYER, Level 1 • NORTHLAND MYER, Level 1 • SOUTHLAND MYER, Level 3
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Telephone 63 2218 T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Smith’s production lets it down badly DREAM ERS A B SO LU TE
V I RICHARDS Dreamers o f the Absolute by P h il M o t h e r w e ll . Australian Performing group at the Pram Factory, Melbourne, Vic. Opened 27 September 1978. Director, L in z e e S m it h ; Producer, R ic h a r d M u r p h e tt ; Designer. P e t e r C o r r ig a n . Asev, R od M c N ic o l; Savinkov, B ill G a r n e r ; Kaliajev, J a m e s S h a v u s ; Pokitilov, P h il M o t h e r w e ll; Dora Brilliant, C a r o l P o r te r ; Sasanov, G r e g P ic k h a v e r ; Sarah Klitchogiou, R o b in L a u r ie ; Zabuhin. D ic k M a y ; Ratchauev, Jon H a w k e s .
Phil Motherwell’s play has to be regarded as a serious attem pt to view the daily lives and paranoias of a tiny terrorist group, and as such deserves serious consideration. W hat is (apparently) equally serious is Linzee Smith’s attem pt in his production to twist the play into something it is not. Smith appears to admire terrorism, and although it’s not really germane to this production, his activities and pronouncements indicate that he quite likes the emotional energy of terrorists and punks. Indeed this inten tionally punk production is a good chance to see the theatrical poverty of that musically poor fashion. Smith’s production, utilising a style of acting suited to the meagre ability and training of his cast, is a species of mere presentation; the actors do not act, they make statements. They employ no emotion or characterisation outside of their ‘real’ personalities. They stand on different parts of the set and pretend not to act, they pretend to be real. Or putting it another way, they act real. But not very well. They are not really acting. They are just speaking. However as we know that they are ‘actors’ (because we pay to see them in a ‘theatre’, and not just encounter them on the street) and as they do not act, they are not convincing. They are people acting badly the proposition that acting is false. They are fellow travellers masquerading as actors, and demeaning the craft. In much the same way this falseness of purpose pervades the political background to the production. Smith’s group are well known in Melbourne as pretending (or believing) that life is art, vice versa, etcetera. Thus it is im portant to them to be involved in ripping down the illusionistic basis for trad theatre. People are what they seem . . . actors are people . . . actors are what they seem, responsible for the material they purvey in the theatre. And in life. I here leave aside the interesting area of whether this moral theatre has any basis in the actuality of these people’s/actors’ lives. W hether or not they are ‘better’ people is not relevant here. W hat is im portant is that in this production they are presenting a play about terrorism, in the context of a coterie audience who is well aware of Smith and his group’s adm iration of terrorism. Thus a play which is critical of the romantic/idealistic motives of these 1905 Russian anarchists is turned on its head to treat them sympath etically. And thus become rubbish. 24
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W hat we see when we look at Smith’s group from the point of view of ‘real’ revolutionaries is a bunch of fellow travellers. These are people who are not involved in any political process, revol utionary or otherwise, who use the ultimate argument of degenerate hippies to support their ‘lifestyle’, that is they do their own thing, and who can fairly be regarded as armchair revolutionaries. They talk but do not act. They are dedicated followers of fashion. They change their theatrical style like other people change their socks. The text of Motherwell’s play deals with Russian terrorists in 1905 whose objective is to prove themselves against a pure ideal: if they kill an autocrat they die themselves in an inspirational manner. These terror ists are romantics, idealists, Utopians of a murderous kind; as Marx said, ‘Dreamers of the Absolute. To them politics is a species of religion; thus martyrdom is a legitimate form of interpersonal relation ship. The text is based in books based on diaries of the police and the double agent of the group. He is a most interesting person, one who managed to survive emotionally and intellectually selling his comrades to the cops and cops to the comrades. Motherwell’s play about loyalty and revolution, idealism and death is potentially very interesting. However Sm ith’s production with its punk intentionalism, and its non acting, and its homage to the detective story (cops and robbers, Bogart and Marlowe) lets it down badly. Smith in his search for immediacy and pace has only shown a dependence on outdated fashion, a voyeur istic belief in white working class zombieism: punk. It used to be called fascism. W hat is great though is Peter Corrigan’s design. His superb ramped, red construct ivist set shows that he, at least, has read the textbooks and learned from them.
Homely folksiness and sentimentality TH E E M IG R A N TS _________ JACK H1BBERD The Emigrants adapted by W a l C h e r r y from material collected, edited and written by A n to n io C o m in . Australian Stage Company, Playbox Theatre, Melbourne Vic. Opened 21 September 1978. Director/Designer, W a l C h e r r y ; Music Director, D o m in ic M u ld o w n e y ; Stage Manager, Y v o n n e H o c k e y . With J o e L a m o n t, M a r ie t t a R u p s , S tr a v o u la , J o h n V o m e r o ; Accompanist, M ic h a e l M o r le y ; Piano, A u r o r a M u r a tt i; Guitarist, S te p h e n M c K e n n a . (Professional)
‘The standard of acting and direction has fallen. In a desperate effort to find an Australian style phoney accents, move ments and use of language have begun to dominate our theatre as much as our television. Simple skills are being forgot ten. So is the fact that there is a limit to the entertainm ent value of Australian stereo types. We are becoming a boring society’. These rem arks are not from the pen of a journalist, a foyer jet-setter, nor a marooned and jaundiced Englishman, but from that of the Professor of D ram a at Flinders University, Wal Cherry (Biala,
Vol 2, 1977). They are a summary of Australian theatre over the last ten years and relate, critically, to the operations of the A ustralia Council, some of the effects of its policies, during that time. While there is the odd part-truth in what Cherry says, the sharp antiAustralian flavour of some remarks is intolerable and depressing from the head of a course who has in his intellectual and practical charge numerous Australians who live in the Australia of 1978. The situation is grim enough as it stands, with many of the country’s dram a schools and courses making only token or resigned gestures in the direction of Australian Studies — by which I don’t just mean theatre b ut as much of history, politics, literature, folk lore, sport, crime etc as is possible. If A ustralian society and theatre is becoming boring, then one of the urgent and splendid tasks before its involved individuals is to help shake that ennui by the throat, not only by reaching for classic and modern overseas precepts, im portant in itself, but also by critically scrutinising and positively confronting the home society. There needs to be an aggressive and creative tension between the local and the general, not the usual limp imbalance, so frequently the consequence of diffi dence, preciosity and cultural priggish ness. The standard of acting in Australia over the last ten years has marginally improved. The standard of direction has regrettably remained the same. There were far more phoney accents in the sixties than there are now, the phoniest of them all being A ustralian, if you can regard that as an ‘accent’, however, even authentic A ust ralian speech or speeches on stage will sound ‘phoney’ if you resent the whole endeavour. While there is still a lot of Deadly Theatre around, simple skills have not been completely forgotten. The only limit in entertainm ent value to Australians of the local stereotype is the universal limit of the stereotype; and what of recent Australian theatre, and there has been some, th at is richer, deeper, and broader? Cherry, a director of the recently formed Australian Stage Company, clearly hopes to redress some or all of these aberrations, because his Biala article is immodestly titled: ‘The A ustralian Stage Company: A Necessary Theatrical Alternative’. How unfortunate that the professor has to so rhetorically, unrealistically, overstate his case, that he feels compelled to swat and wipe aside something, even if it were a failure, crucial in spirit and energy to a developing theatre life in this country. It seems a noisome truism that, while never neglecting their pedagogic duties, many chieftains of dram a institutions are frustrated directors and idealists. One can understand and sympathise with the desire to keep a hand in, but when this desire comes hand in hand with a manifesto, panaceas, a company, one expects a little more than the production of The Emigrants exhibited. One expects even more, given the nature of the material, from a director and teacher of Brecht. An Australian Stage Company venture, and based on Italian material collected and collated by another professor, Antonio
j.c . WILLIAMSON THEATRES LIMITED T H E A T R IC A L S E R V IC E S MUSICALS FOR AMATEURS AND SCHOOLS Choose from a wide selection of old favourites and recent successes including “ Man of La Mancha” , ‘‘A Little Night Music” , “ Brigadoon” , “ The Desert Song” and many others. Enquiries to Mr John Bryson, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne. Phone 663-3211 COSTUME HIRE
M ariette Rups and Stravroula in the Australian Stage Company’s The Emigrants Photo: David Parker Comin of Flinders, The Emigrants is chiefly rem arkable for its homely folk siness and sentimentality. Essentially it presents a series of native songs and letters, supported by scenelets, announce ments, signs, and narrative flicks. This is a respectable form of theatre, but disap pointing when the m atter and its present ation borders on the earnest, the hum our less and melodramatic. The Emigrants, with its songs, its story, with its incipient themes of uprootedness, alienation and exploitation, screams out for a Brechtian or tough, ironic, highly theatrical treatment, otherwise all the perils are those of an abject Vale of Tears. The theatre should theatrically, dram a tically, earn its tears, not merely present them in a flask of Chianti. On the other hand, to quote BB, a theatre that can’t be laughed in is a theatre that should be laughed at. The music, traditional Italian songs and dances, arranged by Dominic Muldowney (Musical Director of the National Theatre, London) was incorrigibly supportive and expressively naive — never commenting or making distinct statements of its own. The
musicians, led by Michael Morley (who has written a book on Brecht), were coyly and conventionally hidden from view. The actors were more themselves or mere singers rather than actor-singers and creators of characters. So in a Brechtian or comic sense they had nothing to break out of, comment on, or transform into. W ith a paucity of character or stereotype, n at urally the dram a lacked focus and comprehensible development, not to mention theatricality. The most inventive part of the evening was the use of props, materials, and elements of costume, as organically transforming expressive devices, a procedure that has been successfully exploited by some of the best new theatre over the last ten years.
A large range of period and fancy costumes is available for hire to cover all musicals and plays. Contact Mrs Gwen Rutledge, JCW Hire Dept, Cohen Place, (Rear Her Majesty’s Theatre), Melbourne. Phone 6 6 3 -2 4 0 6 THEATRICAL PROPS AND FURNITURE Props, furniture and cloths available for hire for the stage, films, publicity, etc. Enquiries to Mr Stan Davies, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne. Phone 663-321 1
The only recent event I can compare The Emigrants with, because of its central song-structure, is the APG’s Back to Bourke St. Though without the potentially substantial themes of the Australian Stage Company show', Back to Bourke St was much superior in its wit, edge and effervescence, its commenting coloration and bouyant theatricality. T H t A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Inordinately, unreasonably funny BEDROOM FARCE GREG CURRAN Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn. The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust at The Theatre Royal, Sydney NSW. Opened 7 October, 1978. Director, P a t e r W illia m s ; Original Design, T im o th y O ’B r ie n & T a z e e n a F ir t h ; Original Lighting Design, P e t e r R a d m o r e ; Lighting & Technical Director, W a lt e r V a n N i e u w k u y k .
Ernest, R o n H a d d r ic k ; Delia, R u th C r a c k n e ll ; Nick, B a r r y C r e y t o n ; Jan. C a r m e n D u n c a n ; Malcolm, P e t e r R o w le y ; Kate, J a c k ie W e a v e r ; Trevor, S h a n e P o r te o u s ; Susannah. K a te F i t z p a t r i c k . (Professional)
Shane Porteous was always an earnest sort of actor, keen it seemed, to impress himself upon a part, or the consciousness of an audience. In a review I wrote in 1971 about him as Thoreau, I noted that, “ as the part incorporates much gangling and bright eyed cheerfulness, it’s small wonder he’s something less than riveting” . In the British import Alan Aykbourn’s Bedroom Farce, Porteous has a chance to go the whole hog in this particular brand of acting. And by way of paradox, he’s much less resistable, far more pleasing. He plays Trevor, a thum b sucking m other’s boy married to the gypsy-like Susannah, a demented miss with wild hair and brightly jumbled attire who recites a secret litany for self confidence at moments of ex tremity (delicious Kate Fitzpatrick). Trevor is* pathetically anxious to please, not only his wife, but his former girlfriend (Jan), and the friends whose housewarming party he and Susannah have cleared with their domestic carry on. But he still manages to ruin everyone’s evening. In an engulfing raincoat left by a departing guest, he looks engagingly goofy. Despite the fact that his very presence spells trouble, that he’s a walking disaster area, no one can resist him. The mummy in the case (ie Trevor’s) is Delia (Ruth Cracknell). She’s suburban, prosperous, middle class cosy but some times unpredictable, a bit domineering in a nice way (she doesn’t really approve of Susannah as a daughter in law but keeps that to herself and husband Ernest) relentlessly proper about unmentionables (discuss marital maladjustments with your doctor she says, they take an interest in such things, indeed her own doctor takes a gruesome interest) formidable inner rituals (making up for an anniversay dinner accounts for almost an entire scene. The acquiescent Ernest is a comfortably successful man on the surface. Privately he’s rather dithery about anything out of the ordinary; high points in the rich tapestry of his existence include checking the damp in the spare room and eating pilchards on toast in bed. No particular reason why the son should be such a 26
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L. to R. Ruth Cracknell, Ron Haddrick and Kate Fitzpatrick in a scene from Bedroom Farce. Photo: Victor Forstmann
specifically obvious wreck, but this is a certain type of comedy, perhaps even a farce. Requests for vital info, dramatic coherence and so on will be treated as so much nit picking, and therefore ignored. The party wrecked by the em battled couple has been given by housewarming cuties of wedded bliss Malcolm and Kate (Peter Rowley and Jackie Weaver) Susannah has caught hubby rather innocently kissing Jan (Carmen Duncan) and jum ped to hysterical conclusions Trevor goes to Jan ’s place to explain his innocence to her husband Nick (Barry Creyton) who is well-to-do and trendy, and therefore more or less calm and cool about what may or may not have happend. Nick is more interested in his own problems, he has back trouble and is laid up. Susannah goes over and keeps Ernest
and Delia up, and Jan and Nick are up. In fact everyone is up. On leaving Malcolm and K ate’s, Trevor said he’d come back and spend the night. Although he’s forbidden Trevor to darken the doormat, Malcolm bows to the inevitable and fills in the small hours making a do-it-yourself chest of drawers. Naturally Trevor comes back and wrecks that. The play does end at some stage. In the Theatre Royal version the mechanism of the piece (which is too neat to survive a bare description) is not too obvious, the general performance is smooth, the timing spot on, and, since a deal of the dialogue is very good, much of the evening is very funny indeed. Unfortunately it is not very meaningful. There is a lack of depth in the character isation. This m atters less in some cases
than others. A constellation of stars so bright they have to be listed alphabetically is not the best start to the realisation of the play of any complexity unless they are all great actors as well. Moreover this staging (by Peter Williams) of Bedroom Farce has a method of overall presentation so bland and uncommitted, so unaccented and lacking in dram atic and geographic base that, despite a set which is said to be similar to that of the London production (or maybe the same as), one seemed in neither Sydney nor London, Eastern suburbs nor home counties. An undertaking like this brings the $64 million question-will the stars play the roles, or the roles play them? On this occasion a bit of both. Carmen Duncan as Jan is as gracious and pretty as she’s been on TV, but, except in the most general terms, very little in her performance tells me about the character she’s playing. Moreover her readings of lines and physical gestures seem unassimilated, unconvinced, and accordingly unconvinc ing. As her husband Barry Creyton, relaxed and recumbent, is rather more successful, suggesting the smooth interior behind the smooth exterior. It’s not a very interesting performance though, rarely surprising us with establishing details of character that aren’t grinding solely on the mills of the narrative; there are insufficient clues to tell us this chap is really alive. Peter Rowley as Malcolm festers and simmers and boils and gets into a
tremendous flap. He is a great favourite with the audience a highly expert comic who garners all his laughs, but he’s not Malcolm, just a funny actor with familiar mannerisms. Mr Rowley deserves to be imaginatively cast for a change. Jackie Weaver as his better half is better. But finally her wistful and appealing little orphan antics remind us that we’ve seen all that before too. Ron H addrick is laboriously comical as Ernest, his contrived looking expressions and roguish delivery are miles from his excellent performance in David W illiam son’s W hat I f You Died Tomorrow, and suggest a ponderousness of approach at odds with the mercurial mastery of Ruth Cracknell (who was also his wife in the Williamson play, and Shane Porteous was the son) Ms Cracknell plays her role on invisible stilts, head and shoulders above most of the rest, and much of the play too. No laugh remains ungarnered, no sigh unsighed, exclamation unexclaimed, double take neglected, boggle unboggled, eyebrow unraised, mascara unapplied, inflection uninflected (Who are these people? she imperiously demands of Ernest when he reads her a complicated section of Tom B row n’s Schooldays in bed. But he’s started in the middle. Hence her query).
umably because it’s damp, while the distraught daughter-in-law bunks in with her. Ms Fitzpatrick as the mad one then proceeds to have a nervous breakdown under the covers. The two women roll about the bed and fall out, the audience is doing something similar in the stalls. Susannah also has a habit of retching every time she mentions Jan’s name, and going into a decline when it’s mentioned by anyone else. All this is inordinately, unreasonably funny. It requires a sort of naughtiness from a comedienne, the desire to go a bit too far, to be wicked, to have your wrist slapped by the director (or playwright if he’s around). Kate Fitzpatrick has this quality, and so does Ms Cracknell, they make a brilliantly comical duo of in-laws.
When Susannah comes to wake up Ernest and Delia, the latter decides he’ll have to sleep in the spare room, pres
I think I’ve made it clear that, despite distinct reservations, Bedroom Farce is great fun and, on it’s own level, it works. Most of the things I’ve seen at the Royal (so called “commerical” theatre) have made me wonder about the sanity of audiences (or perhaps my own). At least this is pleasing. It’s also a green light for non-government subsidised ventures to have a go, especially in the light of recent events. As the director of this play, Mr Williams’ work has surface effectiveness, and little more. His significance is elsewhere. As an entrepeneur he is blazing new trails. He could become the Frank Tait of the 1980s.
his play in a club boardroom, uses six characters only, and bases dramatic interest on the machinations by board members to dislodge a failing president, a faltering long-term player and a reliable if expendable coach, achievements that will supposedly secure the premiership for the club. Stated thus baldly, the play conceivably might have emerged as an Australian equivalent of a deadly earnest CP Snow epic, or as a vitriolic tub-thumping piece offering little relief from the opposition of stark black and white. Fortunately, Williamson has again engineered a stun ning series of emotional gradations and inflexions within a tightly organised
scenario: his skill in reproducing idiomatic dialogue, well demonstrated in The Removalists, here results in line after line of laconic humour, through which his characters cumulatively unfold their attitudes, ambitions and double-dealings. Thus The Club achieves in stylish fashion a dualism compounded on the one hand of superficially slapstick comedy and of a struggle of ethics on the other hand, an achievement gained, I think, somewhat at the expense of a certain hum an quality in the writing. As with The Removalists so with The Club: exactness in dialogue and the search for telling theatrical gesture seem param ount. In an excellent cast this production was
TH E CLUB, S IS TE R S ADRIAN WINTLE The Club by D a v id W illia m s o n . Rivenna Trucking Company Theatre, Wagga, NSW. Opened September 13. Director & T a rry O ’ C o n n e ll; Wardrobe, E le a n o r designer, M c D o n a ld ; Set construction. B o b B a in e s . Gerry Cooper, M a r tin S h a r m a n ; Ted Parker, J o h n F r a n c is ; Laurie Holden, T o b y P r e n t ic e ; Danny Rowe, K e n M o f fa t; Jock Riley, B ob B a in e s ; Geoff Hayward, L e s W in s p e a r .
Much as I resist indiscriminate use of the word “brilliant” it deserves to be employed in summing up David W illiam son’s The Club as performed by the Riverina Trucking Company under Terry O ’Connell’s assured and stylish direction. W illiamson’s bitingly funny football play which incidentally lifts the lid on 20th century permissive boardroom politics drew from the Trucking Company cast the kind of inspired teamwork that has characterised the best of the Company’s productions during its short and vigorous existence. One could only speculate, unfortunately, about the quality of the concurrent productions of The Club in New York and at Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre, but I certainly can’t imagine a more telling entourage than the actors under scrutiny, nor a production so crisp, honed and unified. Like W illiamson’s earlier play The Removalists, which the Trucking Com pany produced last year and which explores police attitudes, The Club deals with a particular institutional subject, the world of pro football. Williamson locates
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dominated by John Francis, as the slipping president Ted Parker, and Bob Baines, as Jock Riley the jingoistic, opinionated Old Boy of the club. Mr Francis showed high technique in the gradual crumbling of the president, from a blustering forcefulness to a whispered and venemous retreat, while Mr Baines made of the aggressive Riley a thoroughly credible buffoon, his high point the sequence where, unwit tingly, he takes a trip on pot. M artin Sharman oozed conciliatory charm as the committee member Gerry Cooper; Les W inspear’s star footballer Hayward revealed a well sustained mixture of warped hum our and boredom; Ken
Moffat was a controlled rank and file player, rising to anger without over balancing into incoherence; and as the beleagured coach Laurie Holden, Toby Prentice created a sympathetically ex pressed portrait of a man torn between the rival claims of honesty and expediency. Deciding that a late-night presentation using an all-female cast would perfectly counterbalance the entirely masculine Williamson play, Terry O ’Connell, Ken Moffat and members of the Trucking Company put their heads together to devise a suitable piece. From these prosaic beginnings emerged Sisters, a moving account of Australian
World W ar 2 nurses living and dying in the Pacific. Freely alternating ballet, song and prose, and using very simple stage effects, the five players and pianist potently unveiled such factual incidents as the voyage of the “ Vyner Brooke” , the weary tedium of wartime nursing in Singapore, and the massacre of Banka Bay. Sisters secured performers of radiance and dignity in Kim Hardwick, Kim Hillas, Barbara Kamler, Jennifer Leslie and Jay Pulver, with Toni W ebb as pianist in Ken M offat’s haunting music for which Terry O ’Connell and Myles O ’M eara provided the lyrics.
One hell of a jump in moralities
language and perception remain richly alive. And even if Joe isn’t, his grotesque death remains an unnerving curtain. The Q T heatre’s Sloane captures much of Orton but this is no cut throat razor production. It comes out really in Leone Sharp’s set. The set is very imaginative in a difficult enough staging area, its pinkwhite wallpaper with protruding rose motifs, pink lounge chairs and rugs, brown tone doors are really Kath, or one very obvious aspect of her: cloying, sweetly sick rather like a large box of chocolates that one unthinkingly consumes in an evening. The stage perim eter is a collaged compo site of bricks, pipes, rubble, rubber thongs — about eight inches high and one is inclined not to notice it. Orton, to be sure, wanted this physical setting of K ath’s homely home ‘in the midst of a rubbish dum p’ to take on deeper social resonances. For example, K ath’s ludicrous sense of gentility, her baby talk and her full-vowel language hide a multitude of sins. And, make no mistake about it, Orton was interested in the sins of the multitude, not just the appearances. The Q T heatre’s production does not venture too far into the junk yard. But Peter de Salis’ Ed was great. Orton himself saw Ed as ‘the actual pivot of the play’ and it’s not difficult to see why. E d ’s pass-key to life is his noxious sense of ‘principles’, his respectability (‘the possessor of two bank accounts’), his aspirations to middle-class values — which barely hide a moral prude, a weakling given to easy duplicity, cruelty and manipulation. As one English critic put it Ed aspires to every good Tory cause. Ed is one of a type that would have been deeply offensive to O rton’s voracious appetite for life: Orton the unashamed homosexual, who loved the sensual, the intellect and Kenneth Halliwell. de Silas’ chain smoking, leather gloved, unsmiling, if fawning, brittle-faced Eddie was perfect. He conveyed why Ed always calls Sloane ‘boy’ (the counterpoint to K ath’s Sloane as ‘baby’) — the moral voyeur of righteousness, ‘am azed’ at Sloane’s amorality while stalking him for his sexual prowess, de Silas managed that difficult Pinteresque like moment when Ed falls to Kemp’s feet to beg forgiveness after all these years, recovers instant poise (‘Words, Dad. A string of words. We’re together again’) and shortly afterwards forgives and forgets Sloane’s murder of Kemp, de Silas used O rton’s lethal language well to cut back at Ed revealing the character’s
cruelty and yet make all of this wildly amusing as O rton would have wanted it. This I thought was especially highlighted by E d’s first entrance when a long, uneasy silence came over the audience as the dialogue shifts from the familiar hetero sexual of K ath and Sloane to the blackly menacing homosexual overtones of Eddie. A rthur Dicks’ Kemp was well portrayed. But the production as a whole did not build that necessary and inevitable m ount ing tension that surrounds Kemp’s relationship to Sloane. June Coliis was a very creditable Kath: pathetic with or without false teeth, led by her enormous sexual needs but trapped within the four walls of rose-pink gentility. Coliis’ teary breakdown was moving and uneasily funny — just the right blend for Kath. But there was too much monotone earlier in the play to make the manipulative K ath of Act Three entirely acceptable. And this is what Orton was on about. In the race for Sloane’s body Kath and Ed throw aside all moral pretense. Not that Orton himself was a moralist but he was too sharp to allow any of his characters to disguise their underlying desires for long with any veneer of respectability. In O rton’s world desires rule behaviour. Sloane himself is neither adm ired nor condemned, and Rick H erbert in the part went a long way to capturing this though lacking clarity in Act One. Orton thought Sloane worked only superficially, that it ‘had got into com partm ents’ and that ‘people will put things into com partments. It’s very bad in class, in sex, in anything.’ T hat of course puts a tall order on any production of Sloane. It should, ideally, unsettle an audience not just amuse them. The fact that Orton resisted com partments and made that W IL D L Y amusing is hardly as Ed would have it ‘an arrange ment to suit all tastes’. It is one hell of a jum p from Joe O rton’s sense of morality to Adolf H itler’s. And what better way to gauge that gap than by spending an evening at home with the H ilter’s, even if it happens to be their last night in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery. The idea is good: a two-acter, divided each half into long, sustained mono logues, first Eva’s then Adolf’s. Their last night before suiciding as Nazi Germany finally crumbled about their heads. A night spent in narcissitic remembrance of things past — Eva’s something of emotion recollected in tranquility’, Adolf’s a little more vehemently. The idea lends itself to a
ENTERTAINING M R S LO A N E . AN EVEN IN G W ITH ADOLPH H ITLER TONY BARCLAY Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton. Q Theatre, Penrith, NSW. Opened 13 September, 1978. Director, R ic h a r d B r o o k s ; Designer, L o o m s S h a r p ; Lighting Design, M ic h a e l C o h e n ; Stage Manager. T r e v o r C o n n e ll. Kathy, J u n e C o liis ; Sloane, R ic H e r b e r t ; Kemp, A r t h u r D ic k s ; Ed. P e t e r d e S a lis . (Professional) An Evening With Adolf Hitler by J e n n i f e r C o m p to n and M a tt h e w O ’S u lliv a n . Actors Company, Sydney. Opened 29 September, 1978. Director. M a t t h e w O ’ S u lliv a n ; Stage Manager, P e t e r P it c h e r . Eva Braun. B e v e r ly B la n k e n s h ip ; Adolf Hitler, M a tt h e w O ’ S u lliv a n .
Joe Orton had a mind given to much mischief and not a little menace, and a language at once lucid and sharply articulate. T hat much was more than evident when his first major success Entertaining M r Sloane opened at the New Arts Theatre, London, in May 1964. The then odd affinities with Wilde and Pinter, together with an almost reckless attack on bland gentility, were dutifully noted, But O rton’s dubious ‘morality’ troubled gen teel and academic sensibilities alike, not that the two are poles apart. Sloane, after all, commits two murders and receives no admonishment. Sloane was discomforting but very, very successful; in short, it worked, though only superficially to O rton’s thinking, a m atter I will return to shortly. But those after all were the slavish ‘sixties when the word ‘m odern’ took on deeper if more specious semantic and ethical connotations than any decade since the ’twenties. If audiences can now comfortably engage Pinter with a ready made catch of critical idiom (’comedy of menace’, ‘play of memory’ et al) it also follows that Orton is ‘respectable’ stuff, his dram a a solid cornerstone of things thoroughly modern British. But really Pinter is not ‘com fortable’ and Orton certainly not ‘respectable’ — though both can be played that way. O rton’s is an original voice of his decade, an oblique reflection of a society in deep conflict. Not that Sloane has paled with the passing of fourteen years, its cut and thrust of 28
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possible exploration of their strange relationship and to tie that into the complex figure of Adolf Hitler, author of Mein K a m p f and shattered German futures. But it doesn’t work. It’s obvious that Compton and O ’Sullivan’s script aims at more than the general theatre-foyer chat like “ gee, ma, it makes you realise that great figures of history are real human beings too” . But it is a little static, boring and sentimental: it needs a more detached shaping, especially to clarify that pivotal relationship: Germany, not Eva, was Hitler’s bride. Beverly Blankenship gave Eva a dreamy
lyricism, pin-pointing well that mixture of insecurity and possessiveness, which the audience immediately translated into domestic nostalgia, though the Eva of this production was also depicted as vain and superficial, her ‘love’ for Adolf blinding her not only to his insanity but also the things dearest to his heart. Matthew O ’Sullivan had a more difficult task and most of the second act seemed lost to the audience — a fault of the script, perhaps, more than the acting. The script moves uneasily about the concepts of ‘will’ against ‘conscience’ and ‘intellect” as espoused by Hitler. Moreover, it lends
itself to sentimentality and I doubt if the separation between public and private figure was as clear as the production intimated. Indeed the outside world (Hitler’s past, the crumbling present) and the inside world (Eva’s ‘Addie’, the passionate husbandsm an of German supremacy) are clearly impositions on the part of the writers. It was difficult for this reviewer to adjust to O ’Sullivan’s Hitler and the real Adolf, am phetamine-addled and obsessive theorist of Fascism. But I did go with a open mind. Maybe I missed the point.
The need to fulfill the author’s intentions
of the Nazi ideal in particular, and the chaotic brutality of man at war in general. On the other side of the coin is the coach party of Baptist ladies represented by the uncompromising Miss Judith Fellowes. Their religious platform is equally far removed from Christian charity as is witnessed by the self-righteous hounding of the central character.
girl — by all accounts as much a victim of her emergent libido — robs him even of this lowly job, just as in years past he had been defrocked as a minister for “ forni cation and blasphemy” . The relationship of Shannon and Miss Jelkes provides the sustaining interest of the play. For him, whose life has collapsed to the point of a previous breakdown and is brought to the edge again here, a facing up to the futility of past hopes must be made. The sustained feverishness of Max Phipps’ performance convinces that here is a man struggling to exorcise his private devils — not by clutching on to any faith or moral code, but accepting the needs of his flesh; the sex and alcohol that the manageress can provide in abundance. At his core is a loneliness, far removed from the self-reliance of the Hemingway kind, a loneliness which Miss Jelkes, bereft of the old man can also no longer blind hereself to. She flirts with the idea of transferring her doting to Shannon, but with only two unfulfilled past encounters behind her he proves too much to take. Judi Farr builds in the part to an inner almost mystical, serenity which suggests that the character will come through and reassemble the tatters of a beggar’s existence. The play is one of powerful moments, dense and rich in the writing but with a tendency to collapse into dreariness or mawkishness; director Ted Craig managed to avoid both of these without ever diluting its strong brew. The only quibble with James Ridewood’s otherwise superlative setting (and best use I’ve ever seen made of the D ram a T heatre’s stage) was the extent of its super-realism. Williams wants us to see both inner and outer of the Hotel rooms, something largely denied here, just as the souls of the principal characters — tethered but thrashing like the iguana — are also being revealed. W idowers’ Houses proved to my mind much less in tune with the author’s intention though directed in an apparently clear cut fashion in this production. The narrative line is simple enough. Boy, Dr Harry Trench, meets girl, Blanche, while on holiday in Germany. Pa, rich Mr Sartorius, acquiesces so long as his daughter will be accepted into the titled society of the young man. Back in Surbiton, this duly agreed, a snag occurs. Pa’s gains are ill-gotten from slum landlordism; the beans are spilled by Lickcheese, dismissed rent collector and working class scapegoat. Boy and girl quarrel so the engagement is broken off.
N IG H T OF TH E IG U A N A W ID O W E R S HOUSES ROBERT PAGE The Night o f the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. Old Tote Theatre Company, Drama Theatre. Opera House Sydney NSW. Opened 20 September 1978. Director, T e d C r a ig ; Designer, J a m e s R id e w o o d ; Lighting, J e r r y L u k e ; Stage Managers, J o h n F r o s t, R a g in i W e r n e r .
Shannon, M a x P h ip p s ; Pancho. A le x P o p e ; Maxine Faulk, M a g g ie K i r k p a t r i c k ; Pedro, A n t h o n y Z e a n e ; Wolfgang, M a r k H e m b r o w ; Hilda, P r u e B a s s e tt; Herr Fahrenkopf, F r a u F a r h e n k o p f , D o r is G o d d a r d ; Hank, P e t e r F is h e r ; Judith Fellowes, L y n n e M u r p h y ; Hannah Jelkes, J u d i F a r r ; Charlotte Goodall, L o r n a L e s le y ; Nonno (Jonathan Coffin), R o n a ld F a lk ; Jake Latta, G o rd o n L is h m a n .
(Professional). Widowers' Houses by George Bernard Shaw. Old Tote Theatre Company, Parade Theatre, Sydney NSW. Opened 4 October 1978. Director. G e o r g e O g ilv ie ; Designer. K r is tia n F r e d e r ik s o n ; Lighting, J e r r y L u k e and J o n a t h a n C id d o r ; Stage Managers, J o h n W h it h a m , N ic h o la s S c h lie p e r . Waiter, J o h n S to n e ; Cokane, N o r m a n K a y e ; Harry Trench, I v a r K a n ts ; Sartorius, P e t e r C o llin g w o o d ; Blanche. J a n e H a r d e r s ; Porter, G e o r g e L e p p a r d ; Maid. A n n ie B y r o n ; Lickcheese. K e n H a n n a m .
Tennessee Williams is one of those rare writers who is “ looking for sense where possibly there is none” . Unlike the author of that line, Beckett, he does not pare the world down to a vision bleak and austere, but almost the opposite — conducting his search for meaning against an exotic tapestry, albeit of misfits. Their refuge in this case is the Costa Verde Hotel, losing its battle against the encroaching jungle somewhere on the west coast of Mexico. The setting reflects chaos and the reassertion of natural forces over m an’s attem pts at a civilised veneer; its laws are proverbially anarchic and omni vorous. Like the central symbol of the iguana, being flattened for the table, tethered and thrashing out its urge for freedom, it compels the whole atmosphere of the play. Though it was written in 1961, the time is the 1940’s and the issues reverberate out to the political concerns of the age. We are a decade on from Glass Managerie, in the war that play was trembling on the brink of. Here a German family of blond, athletic dummkops disport themselves in flimsy black bathers and are irrepressible in their biergarten boisterousness. Their rejoicings at radio broadcasts announcing the indiscriminate bombings of the London blitz are a terrifying remembrance
Maggie K irkpatrick (Maxine) and Max Phipps (Shannon) in the Tote’s Night o f the Iguana As with these two groups, all save one who come to this place have their driving force or anchoring faith. For Maxine Faulk, the widowed hotelier, it is a predatory sexuality feeding on the only locals — two half-naked natives who also serve as porters. They melt into the setting (despite Double Bay hairstyles) and even their mistress is almost at home here as her life and dwelling is remorselessly claimed by the jungle. H annah Jelkes has her spinsterish respectability as all that is left of a wasted youth. Her devotion to her grandfather’s once minorly recognised poetic powers has resulted in the two of them ending up impoverished itinerants, reduced to moutebanking her portrait sketches and his poetry to the patrons of seedy hotels like this. But as the appropriately named Jonathon Coffin (and nicknamed Nonno) intones his impressive swansong before the thin light of his nonagererian years gutters, the grandaughter feels the flicker of latent sexuality beginning to kindle. Adrift physically and morally is T Lawrence Shannon, tour guide, arriving with the unwilling ladies for an unsched uled stop in search of succour in an old stamping ground. Carnality with a young
1HI A I R ! A U ST R A L IA NO VI M B! R 1978
But upright Trench finds he too is tarred by the same brush for his private income is from none other but a mortgage on the same slum properties. Some months later . . . Lickcheese, now doubly class traitor, turns up having made his pile in the even more disreputable role of middleman, and offers Sartorius a nefarious scheme involving improvement of the tenements for greater compensation when the whole area is to be improved. Trench must be brought in. Boy and girl are left alone — they make it up, and the play ends with wedding bells and plenty of cash in the offing. The problem is that the curtain should not come down to a round of applause for capitalism, but contempt for the whole system. The pleasantness of the produc tion has turned an unpleasant play on its head. Shaw saw it unequivocably as depicting “ middle class respectability fattening on the poverty of the slums as flies and filth” and was equally clear about its didactic intent. Peter Collingwood as Sartorius seems little more than a doting father who has raised himself up by his bootstraps. His early arguments on the lines that someone has to provide housing for the poor and that there is no point in bettering conditions as they will only be abused, seem quite acceptable. After all the good Doctor Harry accepts them, especially when he sees his own part in it. “ Every m an” , says Pa very reasonably, “who has a heart must wish that a better state of
things was practicable. But unhappily it is not” . Shaw does not want, however, as the original critics saw only to well, the inevitable middle class audience to sit back in smug acceptance of such senti ments, but to feel the bite of the satirical attack against them. Such an onslaught on the values of the middle classes, broad base of the whole Victorian keep-thescrews-on-the-poor system, is what earned this, his first play, the outraged response of “ despicable” and “ sordid” in its own time. Even the boy gets girl ending should not be what it seems here. Blanche (Jane Harders) is a product of the system — when her response to how the Sartorius’ have prospered is to hang on to the money but keep the stink from their noses, P a’s reply has tremendous irony if played properly — “ I see I have made a real lady of you” . Though she is a beautiful dominant woman, an example of GBS’ life force, she is a negative evil and brutal one; her malicious torturing of the maid — not the teasing seen here — proves that. In this production, for some reason, Harry Trench makes it up to her with a big kiss at the end. In the stage directions it is she who “crushes him in an ecstatic em brace” . The ending should show girl getting boy, with boy as victim of passion as maid was of rage. And when all that is part of a villianous scheme even the wicked Sartorius begins to flinch; “(revolted) Do you think, Lickcheese, that my daughter is to be
Missed the vital element of melodrama
whom General St Pe has kept waiting for seventeen years, is eternal fidelity; Gaston, the young secretary is innocent virtue; and the G eneral’s daughters, adolescent infat uation — all points of view Anouilh has treated seriously in other works. And the wife’s and mistress’s fake attem pted suicides parody ‘dying of love’. So when the piece is played as naturalistic comedy, aspects such as the repellent daughters, the romantic reconstructions of first meetings, and the utterly unlikely denoue ment, become simply embarrassing and out of place. The long — sometimes, it seemed, interminable — speeches about honour and lost youth could also have benefited from a less heavy handed treatment; though they do sit uncomfortably in the writing. But Phillip Ross as General St Pe looked neither the late 40s that the text precisely indicates, nor the dashing — if ageing — toreador with the ladies who has induced a beautiful young girl to almost waste her youth for him. Though supposedly a contrast, Joe James as Doctor Bonfant was more dashing, in spite of a subdued portrayal, and gave a lightness of touch to the wit that was lacking in Philip Ross’ performance. Judy Fisher as the bedridden M adame St Pe was undoubtedly the piece de resistance in spite of her youthfulness in the part. Her vicious, hysterical but calculating portrayal of the vengeful hypochondriac was the only double-edged moment of the production. Unfortunately even this was undermined by an extraord inary piece of direction which made her jum p up and down on the bed a full ten
TH E W A LTZ OF TH E TO READORS LUCY WAGNER The Waltz o f the Toreadors by Jean Anouilh. Marian Street Theatre, Sydney, NSW. Opened 15th September, 1978. Director, B r ia n Y o u n g ; Designer. D o u g A n d e r s o n . General St Pe, P h illip R o s s ; Mme St Pe, J u d y F is h e r ; Ghislaine, L o u is e P a jo ; Dr Bonfant. J o e J a m e s ; Gaston, D a m ie n P a rk e r; Dressmaker, F e li c i t y G o rd o n ; Daughters, D e b o r a h T r e n g o v e , M a r g ie M c C r a e ; Father Ambrose, J o h n L a r k in g ; Maids. D e n is e O tto . IProfessional)
Anouilh’s melodrama/farces embody the same themes as his serious and tragic plays — romantic love, purity, idealism and compromise — but he attem pts to manipulate the lighter forms in order to laugh at the ideals he sets up. His humorous portrayal of them is not altogether lighthearted, however; the characters and their actions often become grotesque and horrifying parodies of their better selves. Waltz o f The Toreadors is by no means so black a comedy as the earlier Ardele, which uses the same characters, but nevertheless it is not mere farce. The programme note describes the play’s two levels as “ a blustery riotous farce . . . and a sardonic lament of lost youth,” but it, and Brian Young’s production seem to have missed the vital element of melodrama and self-send-up with which Anouilh makes his hardest point. Many of the characters represent stock romantic attitudes; Ghislaine, the mistress 30
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made part of a money bargain between you and these gentlem en?” The audience should feel even greater repugnance at this parody of a romantic ending, just as we should at the whole self-fulfilling argu ment about the desperate poor who will (ie can only) abuse improvements. Harry Trench is too amiable in Ivar K ants’ portrayal, only the “ rather boyish” side of the character comes over, not his moral slide which begins from the moment he tacitly agrees to continue drawing interest on the dirty money. Norman Kaye as the “ affected” Cokane fared a little better, though the character’s repeated admonitions about “ social tact” seemed merely foolish, not the dulling oil that keeps in motion the crushing “ springs and wheels of a great aristocratic system” . The Fabian doctrine which Shaw espoused of “ gradualness” , as opposed to M arxian conflict, depends primarily upon recognition. None of the characters here are for approbation, their moral turpitude should be obvious and increasing dis enchantm ent be the dom inant response as the action progresses. For once Kristian Frederikson’s sets, looking rather half completed than done on the cheap, did neither him nor the production great credit. George Ogilvie’s direction did not seem, by losing sight of the ironical/satirical tone, attuned to the sharpness and downright hum our of Shavian wit. In missing the comedy much of the seriousness was lost as well. minutes before the supposedly shocking revelation that she is quite capable of walking and her paralysis is shammed. Louise Pajo and Damien Parker were as nice as the young lovers could be in this naturalistic setting, as were the other smaller roles. But the mistaken playing style made the play appear an under written and unsatisfactory farce with un-integrated moralising passages; and the miscasting detracted from the sparkles of hum our th at remained.
. r& g
Bankstown Town Hall
OPENING: 13thOCT. until Christmas^ THE COMPLETE NIGHT OUT 7 . 3 0 p m to M i d n i g h t
* PRE-D IN NER DR IN KS * 3 CO UR SE M EAL * 4 1/2 HO URS EN TE R T A IN M E N T p r e s e n t e d by t h e Q T h e a t r e :
Buskers • Traditional Music Hall
Authentic Melodrama with lots of audience participation Sing along • Dancing W AITER SERVICE TH R O U G H O U T
Bankstown Town Hall 709 4255
Ivan King, Richard Williams, Alan Cassell and Leslie W right in the National Theatre, Perth’s Richard I I
Very little sense of ensemble R IC H A R D II KATHARINE BRISBANE Richard II by William Shakespeare. National Theatre Company. Playhouse, Perth WA. Opened 12 September, 1978. Director. S te p h e n B a rry; Designer, S u e R u s s e ll; Lighting. Duncan O rd ; Stage Manager. G e o r g e T s o u s is ; Dramaturg. C o llin O ’ B r ie n . Richard. R o b e r t V a n M a c k e le n b e r g ; John of Gaunt/ Gardener, E d g a r M e tc a lf e ; Edmund Langley. Iv a n K in g ; Henry Bolingbroke, A la n C a s s e ll; Thomas Mowbray, R ic h a r d W illia m s ; Aumerle, C h r is H o ld e n ; Duchess of Gloucester/Duchess of York. R o s e m a r y B a r r ; The Queen, L e ith T a y lo r ; Bushy, Gardener. Exton, B e v a n L e e ; Salisbury, Bagot, Groom, G e r a ld H itc h c o c k ; Green, Scroop. M ic h a e l L o n e y ; Bishop. M ic h a e l O ’ R o u r k e ; Northumber land, L e s lie W r ig h t ; Henry Percy, R ic h a r d W illia m s ; Willoughby, A la n F le t c h e r ; Fitzwater, A n d y K in g ; with R h o n d a F lo tt m a n , T r e g o n n in g .
J u lia n
N o e l,
G le n n
S w if t ,
Our first sight of Richard II in the current Perth Playhouse production is of a crowned figure clothed in white and gold, orb and sceptre raised, conjuring from the flies a golden throne. It descends, he takes his seat, and the quarrel between Mowbray and Bolingbroke which opens
the play, proceeds. Shakespeare’s Richard I I is a play about kingship, a dialogue upon the weight and nature of the crown: the insubstantial appearance of that empty throne being whisked from here to there by the stage management remained with me for the rest of the evening. For Robert van M ackelenberg’s Richard is a vain and theatrical man; one who listens little and talks much, giggles while his country burns and takes good advice from no-one. His court and his rivals think him a bore and an incompetent; and it is only too natural that as soon as the unjustly exiled Bolingbroke resets his feet on English soil the whole nation should flock to join the rebel forces. All this is to be found in the script. But there is another, less tangible, element also to be found in the script; and in the context out of which the play originated: the king’s ‘second body’ as it was called, the divine nature bestowed on him by God at his coronation. It is this nature that makes rational men submit, awed, to unjust and undeserved punish ment; that makes old York, the king’s deputy, tremble at Bolingbroke’s invasion; and that makes the usurper at the end take
a crusade of penance to the Holy Land. Opposing common sense is the knowledge that the mysterious ways of God, of who the King is a part, are beyond our comprehension. The play is most delicately balanced in its engagement of the human and the divine, the rational and the spiritual. Against Henry’s practical politics are R ichard’s metaphysical conceits: the essential differ ence between the two men, in Shake speare’s argument, lies in the mystical nature of the coronation. The problem with van Mackelenbe.rg’s performance — and Stephen Barry’s production — is that the divine dimension is missing. The play is conducted entirely on a rational level; and it leaves Richard without the resources to match the bluff, pragmatic nature of Alan Cassell’s Henry. This Henry is not very bright, nor does he have much imagination or humour; but he is transparently a better proposition as ruler than the tiresome young man who keeps holding up the action with sad stories of the death of kings. The crunch comes in Act IV when the two men confront each other as Richard is brought to formally abdicate his crown. This is one of the great scenes in T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Shakespeare as Richard makes the im patient Henry sweat for it, indulges himself in his last moments of royal power and at the same time weighs with great dignity the cares and responsibilities transferring from one king to another. The great ritualistic threnody (With mine own tears I wash away my balm, W ith mine own hands I give away my crown . . . ) may in one sense be a piece of self-indulgent peevishness but it is also a litany of undoing that transmogrification repre sented by the coronation. The Richard van Mackelenberg showed us in this scene was cold and relentlessly self-indulgent. Cassell’s Henry treated him with im patience and contempt, as did the rest of the court, chafing with irritated boredom, searching begrudgingly for a mirror as Richard found one excuse after another to draw out the moment of surrender. The performance was admirable in its way; but it diminished both Richard and Henry. It showed them not as officers of a divinely created world order but individuals fight-
Glorified projectlecture KEEP ON T R U C K IN ’ FR A N C ESC A CLIFF GILLAM K e e p O n T ru ckin ' F rancesca devised and directed R a n d a ll; Stage Manager. L iz D o n a ld s o n . With P a t S k e v in g t o n and D e n is e K ir b y . (P rofessional)
by C h r is t in e
Of all the “ revolutionary” cultural movements which characterised that mad, sad wondrous decade “ the Sixties” , it has been the rise in feminist consciousness which most culture pundits of the seventies have fixed on as the most im portant, both in terms of its larger implications and its visible continuing impact on all our lives. The revolution has moved more slowly than some radical feminists would wish, all too rapidly for some diehard male chauvinists but it has kept moving, inexorably. A measure however of the distance it still has to go might be the fact that there has been as yet no noticeable change in the ratio of female to male dramatists. Keep on Truckin, Francesca does not itself contribute to any redress of the imbalance, since it is not strictly speaking a drama, and has not been so much written, as stitched together. The show is basically a kind of docu-drama — two performers give recitatations from a range of feminist writing, (mainly poetry) and the recitations are linked together through the use of taped material and slide projections, as well as by passages of dialogue which sketch a relationship between a young radical feminist and an older woman whose life has been changed by the movement, but who is well aware of some of its shortcomings. The assembly of this m at erial was undertaken by the director, Christine Randall, and the show is fittingly, an all female affair with Pat Skevington and Denise Kirby performing and stage management and design by Liz 32
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ing for their place in the sun.
not required to speak.
But there was a deeper problem in the performance than the interpretation I have described; and that is the verse. Much of the dignity of the royal characters lies in the rhythms of the verse; and it seemed to me that almost at no time during the performance were the rhythms given the weight due to them, nor the verse brought alive as drama.
The set, by Sue Russell, basically a circular turntable jutting out into the audience, also by its very flatness created unnecessary obstacles to the heirarchical nature of the play. The very structure of the play is a seesaw of one m an’s rise and another’s fall. The verse is full of rising and falling imagery; and when the King says at the lists in Act 1: “ We will descend and fold him in our arm s” ; or in Act III, “ Down, down I come; like glistening Phaeton, W anting the manage of unruly jades” , then it can only seem pomposity since he has nowhere to go.
There were moments: notably from Rosemary Barr as the Duchess of Glou cester, Edgard Metcalfe as the Gardener and Leslie W right as Northumberland; and the moment in Act V when the deposed Richard on his way to Pomfret Castle says a gentle farewell to his Queen (Leith Taylor). But on the whole I found it the kind of old fashioned Shakespeare production in which the actor attem pts to be ‘real’ despite the verse; and in which the minor characters, lavishly dressed, stand around in a semi-circle taking a polite but passive interest in the proceedings when Donaldson. Ms Randell has given us a concise overview of the various facets of the woman’s movement, including material deriving from the pragm atist socialwelfare oriented libbers and also from such extremist wings of Valerie Solinas’ SCUM — The Society for Cutting Up Men. This sensible balance and generally non-hysterical review of the problems women face in a sexist society and the various ways which the movement has devised to cope with them encourages me somewhat in registering my dissatisfaction with the show, since an adverse criticism is unlikely to draw, from one so obviously sensitive to the shortcomings of the rhetoric of radical feminism, a simplistic accusation of male chauvinist prejudice. I found the show, then, fairly dull largely because it seemed so static, non-dramatic. Various of the individual pieces were sensitively and powerfully delivered, and Ms Kirby particularly handled a marvellously lyrical, gently ironic and most moving passage on some of the deeper implications of sisterhood and female identity, a passage taken from The Three M arias’, New Portugese Letters, with telling virtuousity. But on the whole, the range of feminist perspectives covered is by now familiar to most of us, even too familiar, given the effects of media over-kill, and not even the inclusion of a wryly satiric sequence from the parodic Heat Report — on Female Anim al Sexuality, could sufficiently lighten the oh-so-serious tone of moral improvement which otherwise characterised the show. I thought that the original linking material, the dialogue between Experience and Youth, old and young Sisters, contained the inklings of a rather more dramatic treatm ent of feminism than the pageant like pastiche offered, and it’s a pity more work wasn’t done to develop this. Had it been developed there would, to my mind, have been more justification in running Keep on Truckin ’ Francesca over a four week season in The Greenroom. I simply do not see the point of tying up a theatre space well-suited to the trying out of
Overall I found it a disappointing production: the politics confusing, the action slow and the speech uninviting to the ear. I felt very little sense of ensemble; and one has the right to expect this from a State company; or of a point of view projected by the cast. An empty and insubstantial royal throne of kings con jured out of the flies. experimental and new dram a with a kind of glorified project-lecture such as this (complete with visual-aural aids), no m atter how salving it might be to the collective conscience. (It was after all no more than a salve, since the show did not attem pt to galvanise its audience into action in the way its vaguely Brechtian form at first suggested it might.). As theatre, then. I’d have to call Keep on Truckin ’ Francesca a failure. But as a concise overview of feminism in the 60’s and 70’s and as an exercise in conscious ness raising I can see a lot of point in such a show being toured to schools. I’m surprised that the Theatre in Education wing of the National Theatre does not seem to have any involvement in the show, and I would hope that they seize the chance to utilise the energy and good sense which has been put into it by performers and directors alike in the area for which finally, the kind of show it is makes it best suited. And after all, the optimum point at which to strike a really powerful blow for the revision of sexist attitudes in our society must surely be in the immediately post-pubescent male and female con sciousness.
Art which concealed the artifice BETW EEN TH E LINES COLLIN O'BRIEN b> M a r c u s C o o n e y . Hole in the Wall WA. Opened 6 September. 1978. With as Henry Lawson
B e tw e e n th e L in e s
A le x a n d e r H a y IP rofessional)
“The art of the theatre” intoned Harley Granville-Barker, “ is the art of acting first, last and all the tim e” . His dictum seems to me fundamentally true, a recognition that at the moment of per formance all other aspects of production such as lighting, design and even direction exist to maximise the possibilities of that actor in that particular role, consistent
Theatre/SA with one of the many valid interpretations of the script. It is because GranvilleBarker’s claim is true that your aficionado of the theatre finally finds himself primarily actor-oriented. Certainly I would prefer to see a skilled actor at work on familiar material — say Rob Alexander as Jaques —than indifferent new work.
Strachan — quality of all great clowns TH E S ER V A N T OF TW O M ASTERS MICHAEL MORLEY The Servant o f Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, translated by and N ic k E n r ig h t. State Theatre Company of SA, Playhouse, Adelaide SA. Opened 29 September 1978. Director, E d m o F e n o g lio ; Designer, A x e l B a r tz ; Lighting Design, N ig e l L e v in g s ; Dance, Movement, M ic h a e l F u lle r ; Assistant, K e r r ie M c A r th u r ; Stage Manager, P e t e r
R o n B la ir
Which brings me to Alexander Hay, unquestionably one of the finest actors around. His playing of Henry Lawson in the Marcus Cooney onehander Between the Lines gave me one of the most pleasurable evenings I have spent in the theatre. It was a performance for the connoisseur of acting, crammed with art which concealed the artifice. An Aust Lit student of mine, one who I suspect but rarely visits mummers, remarked that it was the first time he’d seen an actor who didn’t come across as an actor playing a part, but seemed to be the person he was playing. An astute, perceptive comment; and I think he would have been even more impressed had he met Mr Hay in mufti in unbuttoned mood, so to speak — and been thus made aware of just how much the actor’s portrayal of Lawson was craft. Even the makeup was astonishingly like Lawson, as a quick check of a ten-dollár bill (if you had one) would confirm. Alex Hay’s playing conveyed with subtle conviction the fragility of an alcoholic near the end of his tether, every gesture and tone appearing completely natural. Mr Hay’s voice has a richness of timbre and range reminiscent of Alec Guinness, but so skilfully are these qualities deployed that one never has the sense of artifice, of the Beautiful Voice, as change of rhythm, emphasis and tonal command lead us from moment to moment. Truly a rem ark able and memorable performance. Praise too for Marcus Cooney’s script. He eschews the more obvious Lawsonia, the sentimental and the doggerel. The play is built on a novel and subtle idea, that of a reading of selections of his work by Lawson. But he slips from straight reading — which would make the show a simple reconstruction of a reading, a la Emylyn Williams’ Dickens — to reminiscence of both pleasurable and painful past events, accompanied and fuelled by half-bottles of spirits. We are thus an audience on two levels. I found it a telling device, deftly handled by both playwright and actor. I believe that the play has been presented only once before, and for a short season. It deserves to be toured, not only here in the Western Third, but all over Australia.
Pantalone, R o b in B o w e r in g ; Clarice, M ic h e le S ta y n e r ; Dottore, H e d le y C u lle n ; Silvio, T o n y P r e h n ; Beatrice, D a p h n e G re y ;( Florindo. P a u l S o n k illa ; Brighella, B r ia n J a m e s ; Smeraldina, C h r is M a h o n e y ; Truffaldino, T o n y S t r a c h a n ; Pulcinellas, N ic k E n r ig h t, M ic h a e l F u lle r , P e te r S c h w a rz , W a y n e J a rra tt.
Goldoni’s Servant o f Two Masters makes use of that most popular of farce conventions, the double or split identity. In various guises the motif occurs in Terence, Shakespeare, Feydeau, Nestroy, Beckett and Brecht. In, for example, The Comedy o f Errors, Shakespeare makes things relatively easy for the actors by having two sets of identical twins. But Goldoni’s Truffaldino finds himself getting more and more harrassed as the two sinecures he’s hoped for turn out to require the energy and logistic sense of a sergeant major who also happens to be a head-waiter, postman or porter when the occasion warrants it. Truffaldino, the servant on the make who decides that two heads are definitely better than one, especially when they are
on the same body, is a marvellous part for the actor who can cope with the role’s demands. And in Tony Strachan, visiting director Edmo Fenoglio could hardly have found a more adept and invigorating performer. I doubt whether there are more than two or three actors in Australia who could have brought to the role the qualities Strachan displays with an at times almost disconcerting prodigality. He can dance, tumble, mime, engage the audience in banter artfully contrived to appear spontaneous, balance lines and foodtrays with the same deftness, and at the same time act as the focal point for the production in such a way that he is never upstaging the other performers. It is a performance of enormous panache, cocki ness and occasional affectation, yet one that always avoids the pitfalls of self centredness or smug display. Strachan has the quality of all great clowns — he manages to be both self-contained and apparently diffident at once: and he has the very rare ability (probably acquired from his own experience in street theatre and clown acts) of being able to focus and hold an audience’s attention and interest. It is encouraging to see the State Theatre realizing how such talents can be put to use. If there were one criticism to be made of his performance, it would be that vocally at this stage of his career, he lacks colour and variety. His delivery occasionally be came a little monotonous and forced. But these are minor objections. I have seen few more exuberant performances in some time, and in terms of physical agility and
Pulcinellas in State Theatre Co’s Servant o f Two Masters. Photo: David Wilson T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
command of expressive gesture and move ment, he lost nothing in comparison with one of my personal milestones in clowning roles — Ekkehard Schall’s Arturo Ui for the Berliner Ensemble. It was clear from the production as a whole that much of the credit for its strengths should go to the director. In almost every respect this was the most disciplined ensemble playing I have seen from this company. Lines were given point, attention was paid to style, blocking was always illuminating or offsetting the text, and movements had a precision and fluency that they have almost invariably lacked in past productions. There was a fine performance from Robin Bowering as Pantalone which avoided stock old man gestures and vocal mannerisms. His delivery of the lines and comic timing were equally assured and pointed. Full marks also to Chris Mahoney’s ebullient, forth right and buxom servant Smeraldina: as a somewhat more_sensible observer of the follies of her betters, she displayed a nice line in common sense and comic remarks. The director’s treatm ent of the young lovers Clarice and Silvio managed to steer a path between exaggerated send-up and saccharine sentimentality. Michelle Stayner and Tony Prehn moved on occasion like the puppets the young lovers are — in comparison with the vigour and vitality of the other characters — but this convention was used to good effect. And the form er’s Clarice, often behaving like a shrew accustomed to getting her own way,
was a welcome departure from the endless and cliched series of china doll heroines one is all too frequently palmed off with in badly conceived ‘commedia’ productions. In the breeches role of Beatrice and her brother, D aphne Grey was at her most convincing in the opening scenes. There after she became a little too hearty, though her diction throughout was clear and avoided the swooping intonations which have sometimes marred other perform ances. Hedley Cullen’s Dottore managed to be ostentatiously dull — a pity, as the part has more scope than was realised in this performance. And Brian James’ Brighella was at times a little pale, though his and the director’s view of the role was unusual and convincing. One of the finest moments in the entire production came when the older clown removes both his and Truffaldino’s masks and shows the latter and the audience the glimpse of a world far removed from Goldoni’s lively and colourful Venice. It was a sudden tableau of resonant stillness, both wintry and intensely human, in which the persona/ actor tension became part of a Pirandellian vision of the stage-world relation ship. If there were nothing else in the production, it would remain worth seeing for this image alone. But there are other features of Fenoglio’s treatm ent which distinguish this is the best designed and best-lit production I have seen at the Playhouse. The set is functional, effective, poetic and uncluttered: actors’ carts are dismantled
and become a low stage on small trestles — the traditional area for com media’ performances. Masked Pulcinellas present a mimed tableau vivant of the play’s action at the opening and later reappear as waiters, servants or simply stage-hands. Backdrops are clearly recognisable as such, doors are canvas slits, the canal is a wide ribbon of blue material (more care could have been devoted to the m anip ulation of this), Brechtian scene captions are flown in and we are always aware that is is a perform ance we are watching. I have seldom seen a more imaginatively lit production; in particular, the tableaux at beginning and end were a visual delight in themselves. So too, the music was completely appropriate and not, as in the past, dropped in to prop up a production which elsewhere displayed a paucity of imagination. Of course there are flaws: the tempo sags before and after the interval, and there is the slight suspicion that Tony Strachan’s performance begins with such energy th at he has to work hard to find further momentum. The other perform ances are at times a trifle too obviously concerned with style, more in the vein of arch comedy of manners than the rather earthier, more everyday milieu that Goldoni evokes in the text. But these are minor objections to a production which reflects well on all involved, and which shows that Adelaide can benefit consider ably from the stimulus and imaginative discipline of a director like Signor Fenoglio.
S O U T H A U S T R A L IA N IN S T IT U T E O F T E C H N O L O G Y North Terrace, Adelaide S.A. 5000
GRADUATE DIPLOMA IN ARTS ADMINISTRATION The Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (Arts) course conducted by the South Australian Institute of Technology provides the professional specialist with an understanding of the functions of management with a specific orientation to arts administration. Persons interested in undertaking the course in 1979 are invited to obtain application forms and information on course aims and content from:
S.A. Institute of Technology, Information Centre, Ground Floor, Main Building, Cnr. North Terrace & Frome Road, ADELAIDE S.A. 5000 Telephone: (08) 223-3866 Ext. 300 & 376 Personal enquiries may be made to Ms. Elizabeth Sweeting, School of Business Administration, S.A. Institute of Technology.
CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS 31 OCTOBER, 1978. LATE APPLICATIONS WILL BE RECEIVED UP TO 30 NOVEMBER, 1978. 34
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Theatre / Queensland
Dramatic value of poetic texts TH E A N C IE N T M AR IN ER O ED IPU S A T COLO NUS VERONICA KELLY The Ancient Mariner, based on Coleridge’s The Rime o f The Ancient Mariner and Christabel, scripted and directed by P e t e r J o r d a n . Queensland Festival of the Arts, St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane. Opened 28 September 1978. Choreography, P e t e r L u c a s ; Costumes, T h o m a s V a le S la t t e r y , K a th r y n P o r r ill; Stage Manager, D a v id L e e s , Ia n W e b b ; Lighting, R ic k B illin g h u r s t . Wedding Guest, R ic h a r d M ic h a e l; Child, B e n G o tto S m ith ; Christabel, Bride, J e n n i f e r F lo w e r s ; Geraldine, V ic t o r ia A r th u r ; Sailors, G r a e m e H a t t r i c k , R u s s e ll H o w e ll, B e r n ie L e w is , P e t e r M u r p h y ; Ancient Mariner, F r a n k G a lla c h e r ; Sir Leoline, D o u g A n d e r s o n ; Polar Spirit, R ob S c o tt; Albatross, J a n e t G o ld s m ith ; Death, R u s s e ll H o w e ll; Life in Death, P e ta G o tts c h a lk ; Dead Sailor, R u s s e ll H o w e ll; Pilot, P e t e r M u r p h y ; Pilot’s Boy, B e r n ie L e w is ; Hermit of the Wood, D o u g A n d e r s o n .
(Pro/Am) Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles. Camerata at Lakeside Forum, University of Qld, St Lucia. Opened 30 September 1978. Director. D o n B a tc h e lo r . Oedipus, R o b b ie W a r w ic k ; Antigone, M a r g a r e t F in u c a n ; Countryman, Ismene, Creon, M ia R e tr o t; Theseus, Polynices, J u d ith B r o w n -B e r e s f o r d . Chorus, N a r e lle A r d lc ia n o n o , S te p h e n B il l e t t , R o s a lin d B r o w n B e r e s fo r d , B e th C a w t e r , P a u l E p e r je s i, K a th le e n G ilf e d d e r , R o la n d , G u id ic e , D a r y l H e w s o n , S h ir le y L a m b e r t , L y n M o o r f o o t, M y le s N a u n to n - T h o m a s , D e b r a S u lliv a n .
The Queensland Festival of the Arts, now associated with Brisbane’s annual spring festival, W arana, provides an appropriately civic-proud and religious framework for two dramatic events which exploit and celebrate the suggestive physical potential of non-theatre spaces. In the neo-Gothic St John’s Cathedral, Peter Jordan’s conflation of Coleridge’s The Rim e o f the Ancient Mariner and Christabel produces a poetic and truly awe-full dram atic and musical spectacle which amply answers prior speculations as to how the theatricalisation of the potent Romantic symbolism of the poem could be effected. Well, they did it; The Ancient Mariner is the best thing that ever happened to me in a church. The show shares with Cam erata’s considerably more modestly conceived Oedipus at Colonus a radical emphasis on the dramatic value of a poetic text intelligently enunciated, eschewing temptations on the eerie sim plicity of naked fire — torches and candles — for visual adjustment towards symbolic receptivity. Good subliminal stuff, yet the many shivers up my spine in the Mariner were not merely caused by the pre-existent rhetoric of vasty arches and cavernous obscurities, but by passages of totally authentic dramatic realisations. The dance and death of the nature-sprite Albatross (Janet Goldsmith) were consummately presented, as was the pivotal moment where the Albatross (now incarnate in taxidermic form) “ did fall like lead into
Franch Gallacher as the M ariner with Janet Goldsmith, The Albatross in Peter Jordan’s The Ancient Mariner the sea” . These had the ritualistic force of the rare uncanny fusion of the spiritual with its appropriate physicalisation. Given the combined attack of Coleridge, the cathedral itself as both actor and ambiance, Prue Gibbs’ exquisitely evocative music (is there a record of it in the offing?) and the talents of some of Queensland’s best non-insitutionalised professional actors, how could The Mariner fail? W ith its large aspirations, it could have, but it didn’t. The focal contributions of Victoria A rthur (Gerald ine) and of Franch Gallacher as a Celticly haunted M ariner of superb conviction and presence, merit specific approbation in a uniformly distinguished ensemble. Peter Jordan impressed three years ago
with his Blake’s French Revolution — also in a church — and his authority in the area of the Romantic mythic canon is now proven. I’m still slightly bemused as to the thematic rationale of the blending of the Gothic comic-book Christabel with The Mariner, but despite the rather esoteric link it made good dramatic material; an imagistic flow of tableaux with a powerful musical cohesion. The Mariner isn’t afraid of subjectivity, and its spectacular theatrepoetry germinates in the imagination besides intriguing the intellect. When Jordan gives us his next church oratorio — Les Fleurs du mal? Prometheus Un bound? — let’s hope the lucid impact of his ambitious theatricalisation isn’t unneces sarily intricated by private glosses. And T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V E M B E R 1978
let’s hope too that we don’t have to wait another three years for it; professional Brisbane theatre needs this brand of fine collaboration in an authentic theatrical statement even more than our pubs, currently, need Four-X. These titanic and seminal efforts should be more than triennial fiestas. Meanwhile, in the frog and heronhaunted environs of the University of Queensland’s lakeside forum, Don Batchelor’s Oedipus at Colonus, directed for Camerata, beautifully exemplifies what can be done with am ateur actors in putting the text into context as an integral event. By the sole light of flickering torches, the ancient daunting script plays with the conviction of a premiere, with female leads, masks, doubling, and a chorus which is indeed a Chorus and not an em barrassed pack of extras playing a crowd scene, the lovely Ode to Colonus, spoken against the competing cries of the resident waterbirds, drove home the sheer impact of the aura lent to any specific natural locale of which a poet has voiced, with love and pride, its pains and hopes. The City Dionysia would recognise this W arana offspring. The Athenians, of course, subsidised for a once-a-year blow out, and both The Mariner and Oedipus are in varying degrees subsidy-dependant (in the case of Camerata, a special grant from the D epartment of Cultural Affairs made possible the engagement of a professional director). But our own sacred and civic areas exist all year round, so need we, must we, wait until each spring for the presentation of our own indigenous Holy Theatre?
Spears’ presence has meant a different approach K IN G R IC HARD DRY RUN RICHARD FOTHER1NGHAM King Richard by S te v a J S p e a r s . La Boite Theatre, Brisbane, Qld. Opened 22 September 1-178. Director, S e a n M e e ; Designers, M ic h a e l M a llo n , G r a e m e J o h n s to n ; Stage Manager, P h ilip D u k e . "King" Richard Brown. G e o f f H is c o c k ; Dundon, B r ia n R ig g ; Sgt Harris, N o r m u n d s B u iv id s ; Stuart Cobble, J o e P o d o s k y ; Sue, S o r r e ll E d w a r d s ; Tony Bailletti, J im P o r te r ; Policemen, T e r r y R o b e r ts , J o h n N u g e n t. (Amateur) Dry Run by John Murray. Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane, Qld. Opened 21 September 1978. Director, B ill R e d m o n d ; Designer. M ik e B r id g e s ; Lighting, K e n R a y n e r ; Stage Manager. V ic t o r A s h e lf o r d . Myra Kendall, K e r r y M c G u ir e ; Danny Fabricant, T e r r y B a d e r.
Steve Spears’ experiments in form have led him this time to the detective story genre, and his presence in Brisbane during the rehearsals for La Boite’s premiere season of King Richard have resulted in a 36
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
production which is not only one of the major theatrical events of this year, but also one that is according to Spears himself very close to the style in which he would like to see the script performed. The play concerns the power struggle between two men. The first is a Premier of Victoria hoping to make a vast fortune by putting his legislation where his money is, and to win votes by appearing to effect liberal reforms in pollution control and prison reform. A simple car emission device (amazingly effective) has been invented. The Government has the patent rights, and is trying to get prisoners in Victoria’s jails to build them at negligible cost to the public. On this pretext the Premier is legislating to make the device compulsory on every car. His opponent is ‘King’ Richard Brown, triple m urderer and the leader of an unofficial Union of Prisoners. He begins by demanding award wages for the prisoners building the devices, but quickly becomes aware of further implications. The Premier hopes to provoke jail riots (most probably by arranging Brown’s death in his cell) after the legislation is passed, and then ‘reluctantly’ offer the contract out to private enterprise. N at urally the firm the Premier secretly controls will win the contract. Throughout the play the Premier tries to keep his plans moving, and Brown tries to collect the evidence he needs to expose the Premier, and get that evidence to the outside world. This reads rather like (and could be successfully played as) an Australian version of The New Avengers or Callan; in other words stylish, humourous, but with a wink and a nod that there but for a little dram atic shaping and enlargement goes real life. There are plot twists and turns, false leads and revelations, and a curiously open ending, where one is left hopeful but not certain that Brown has won. It is in the question of style however that Spears’ presence has meant a different approach. The production has been heavily screwed down into naturalism. As one less than happy audience member said, it was like Cop Shop with subtext. I personally think the style was right for the play, and it was certainly right for the times. In a week when our TV screens were full of vox pops expressing universal disgust at the corruption and unaccount ability of our local politicians, it was grimly satisfying to indulge in the relent less and meticulous exposure of political corruption on a grand scale. Steve Spears has bounced off into fiction from the immense popularity of the factual ex posures of Reports and Royal Commission findings into politics and the police in Australia. And (unlike fact) there are no missing links, no ambiguities. The article of faith for Steve Spears is that such things do happen, and director and cast are to be congratulated for an unflinching loyalty to that belief. Meanwhile over at Twelfth Night a palpably silly comedy called Dry Run is proving quite popular. It’s very well acted indeed, particularly by Kerry McGuire. It’s directed in the never-overestimate-theaudience’s-intelligence style by Bill Redmond, with a good Furniture show
room set by Mike Bridges. I hope all find regular employment in the theatre pro fession; they deserve it. I can’t think of any other reason for mentioning play or production, and I’m sure no-one has worked on it for any other reason. T hat this however should be used as a practical example of why Twelfth Night should continue to receive major public subsidy staggers me.
Softness at the core of this production TH E C HERRY ORCHARD JEREMY RIDGMAN The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. Queensland Theatre Company, SGIO Theatre, Brisbane Qld. Opened 20 September 1978. Director, J o e M c C o lu m ; Designer, F io n a R e illy ; Lighting, D e r e k C a m p b e ll; Dance, B e v e r le y N e v in ; Stage Manager. J a m ie H e n s o n . Lopahin, A lle n B ic k f o r d ; Dunyasha, G illia n H y d e ; Epihodov, P h il M o y e ; Firs, E d w a r d H o w e ll; Madame Ranevsky, M o n ic a M a u g h a n ; Charlotta, P a t B is h o p ; Anya, R o s e m a r y R ic k e tts ; Varya, K a te S h e ill; Gaev, J o h n K r u m m e ll; Semyonov, D e s R o lfe ; Yasha, B r a d le y C a m p b e ll; Trofimov, D o u g la s H e d g e ; Passer-by, L e s E v a n s ; Clerk, D u n c a n W a s s ; Station Master, L e s E v a n s . (Professional)
Half-way through the first act of the QTC’s production of The Cherry Orchard M adame Ranevsky stares out of the window. “ Oh my childhood, my innocent childhood!” she intones, gazing wistfully across the wilderness of the SGIC stage into a forest of black drapes. The absence of any sign of that eponymous symbol of wealth, Russia, temps perdu, what you will, is a tangible manifestation of the softness at the core of this production, proof that the deeper, resonant layers of Chekhov’s masterpiece are being carefully avoided. O ther inappropriate concrete elements prove equally emasculatory. The set for the first and final acts, a room of cavernous proportions, has clearly never been a nursery and in the play’s dying (sic) moments, the thuds of the axes against the trees are reduced to a paltry tapping barely audible beyond the third row. Joe MacColum has quite rightly sought to emphasise Chekhov’s comic intentions, but unless the complexity of that comedy is realised, the panic behind the farce, and the disorientation beneath the eccentricity, then The Cherry Orchard is doomed simply to wilt and wither. The company is far from being an ensemble, something which shows in the flacid approach to potentially vibrant dialogue: the maze of cross-purposes and non-sequiturs is never fully explored. Pat Bishop’s fascinating and ultimately sinister Charlotta and Gillian Hyde’s self-mocking Dunyasha provide perhaps the most compelling performances of the evening. As she proved recently in Clowneroonies, Miss Hyde has all the makings of a true comedienne. The Cherry Orchard is arguably the greatest dram a the 20th century has produced, but I fear for its life. If it is not to be relegated to the ranks of untouchable classics, it needs more committed repre sentation than this.
Strongest cast Fortune have fielded LU N C H TIM E SEASON MARGUERITE WELLS Fortune Theatre Company. Lunchtime theatre season, Canberra Theatre Foyer. The Centenarian by P h ilip R y a ll. Director, R a lp h W ils o n . Clive, J o h n C u f fa ; Shirl, M a g g ie C o d y ; Gran, P a t H u t c h in s o n . 11 -15 September. Nathan and Tabileth by Barry Bermange. Director, P a m e la R o s e n b e r g ; Music, D ia n a A s h c r o ft J o h n s o n ; Costumes, T h e lm a W h it e ; Carpentry, C o lin V a s k e s s . Nathan, J o h n T h o m p s o n ; Tabileth, P a t H u t c h in s o n ; Bemie, N e d M a n n in g . 18-22 September. The Education o f Skinny Spew by Howard Brenton. Director, P a m e la R o s e n b erg ; Costumes, T h e lm a W h it e ; Carpentry, C o lin V a s k e s s . Skinny Spew, B ill G in n a n e ; Mrs Spew and others, P a t H u tc h in s o n ; Mr Spew and others, J o h n C u f fe . 25-29 September. Heads by Howard Brenton. Director, P a m e la R o s e n b e r g ; Costumes, T h e lm a W h it e ; Carpentry, C o lin V a s k e e s . Rock, J o h n C u f fe ; Brian, B ill G in n a n e ; Megan, P a t H u t c h in s o n . 25-29 September. (Professional)
I do think it will be so nice, when the covered walkway between the Canberra Theatre and the Playhouse is glassed in, don’t you? I mean the ladies in the box office will be so much better off out there. They won’t have to sell tickets to the accompaniment of Fortune Theatre per forming in their foyer any more, and they’ll have a grandstand seat when the Governor-General arrives for the first nights of all those ballets and operas and things that get to go on inside the theatre. Of course, it might be better for Fortune Theatre too. They won’t have to perform to the tune of the tinkling change in the box office, and since there might not be so much chance of their disturbing the real business of the theatre — making money — they might even be allowed to move their stage away from the wall. It’s one of those funny-if-it-weren’t-sotragic stages. You know the sort — thirty feet wide and eight feet deep, decently tucked away in the corner with two floor-to-ceiling windows as a sort of mad environmentalist’s parody of a cyclarama. Of course the windows are cunningly hidden with a black backdrop, but the glorious light of heaven still makes its presence felt. And best of all, stage left is uncompromisingly solid government-built brick wall. So with translucent black backdrop behind them, brick wall to the left of them and audience in front of them, close enough to touch, there is only one way for the benighted actors to get off stage — the way they came — stage right. One comes away suffering from a niggling ache in the suspension-of-disbelief. In the last season for instance, Ahmed, on his way home late at night, stopped for a chat with Norm, and when he decided that things had gone a bit too far, tried to continue on his way home by going back the way he came, thus implying that he
Pat Hutchinson (Mrs Spew), Bill Ginnane (Skinny Spew) and John Cuffe (Mr Spew) in Fortune’s The Education o f Skinny Spew. had just dropped in under the lamplight in order to get bashed up, and he really must be going now. Only a niggling ache, but none the less, an ache which could easily be cured by moving the stage away from the wall. Undoubtedly there are reasons why this can’t be done, reasons more probably connected with not looking gift foyers in their mouths, than with theatrical common sense. Ralph Wilson, who directed Philip Ryall’s The Centenarian, the first play in the season, has a magical knack. It is either a magical knack of squeezing good performances out of his actors, or else a magical knack of choosing good actors. Either way, John Cuffe and Maggie Cody, as the mortuary attendant and his wife inconveniently bereaved of an incon veniently long-lived G ran (Pat H utch inson), three hours before her glorious hundredth birthday, were the strongest cast Fortune Theatre have fielded in their short professional life. The play, which was workshopped at the Playwrights’ Con ference this year, is situation comedy, and
definitely inconsequential, except perhaps to the recently bereaved. Anyone hoping to be bereaved shortly should find it just what the undertaker ordered. It is a funny play and, as any public servant can tell you, what one needs at lunchtime after a dispiriting morning of public servanting is to be cheered up, no m atter how ghoulishly. Plays that threaten the existen tial insecurity are definitely not for the two-parliamentary-questions-and-a-ministerial-before-lunch crowd. As N athan, a tremulous old man, his memory so far gone that only Tabileth’s climbing into bed with him convinces him that she is his wife, John Thompson gave what must have been the performance of a career. His usual, rather supercilious man-of-the-world suavity is not endearing, but then directors will insist on casting actors in parts where they get to play no-one but themselves. A Tabileth’s ‘old soldier’, living half in placid content, half gently but wildly lost in anxiety for confirmation of his own sensations, John Thompson was truly touching. T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V E M B E R 1978
Fortune Theatre stresses that the Foyer is ideal, because they can use ‘represent ational’ sets. Unfortunately, in Nathan and Tabileth this meant a great deal of mime which demanded more technique than the cast had to give. Doors which are opened, but not closed, are, in the normal course of events, even in a ‘represent ational’ production, still open five minutes later. Simple mime takes only a little thought and concentration, and a little deftness in establishing an invisible set, can save an ‘inform al’ production from becoming a slipshod one. In Heads the only piece of action which was not just talk, took place behind flats,
inevitably, I suppose, since it consisted in the chopping off of Brian’s highly intellec tual head, and the placing of it on Rock’s highly physical body. Megan, discontent with one brainy weakling lover and one brainless muscular one, thus created a brainy muscular man with a brainless weakling, and girl loses both boys in the end. The whole thing is not much more than an amusing conceit, and, if you’ll pardon the pun, a highly cerebral one at that. Bill Ginnane as an anything-but-skinny Spew made the sort of robust and hideous baby that any besotted mother would dote on spite all. The billowing white sheet
which represented the sea in which the infant fiend drowned his parents was not a good device: the whole play lent itself more to visual representation than Heads had done, but once again that representation was more slipshod than informal. Undoubtedly, Fortune T heatre’s lunch time seasons in the Theatre Foyer are a success, since people come to one play and come again. Undoubtedly also this is partly because people will go to see a play at a theatre even though it is not in the theatre. There’s nothing quite like being legit, even if it means paying the price of spending the whole season making sure you don’t walk through that blasted brick wall.
In a word, trivial
Alma de Groen are probably the best. Robert Lord, who had a play workshopped at the first Playwrights Conference, and Jennifer Compton are theatrically less ambitious than Richards or de Groen, Roger Hall, to judge him by Flextime, is the least interesting of all. He is a kind of micro-Williamson. Flextime is, in a word, trivial. It is unoriginal formulistic drama, the longest string of one-liners I’ve seen. Adding to this is a startlingly mediocre production by John Tasker, in which he fails to energise his cast for the barb-throwing and witticising throughout.
The story recalls four days in the life of a Public Service office. All of them are there: the young nasty joker; the veteran; the foreigner (here a Welshman); the neophite who knows more about drink and sex by the end of the play; and the fat lady. She is the brunt of a lot of jokes about her size. To make a long story short, they are all revealed to have mini-tragedies lurking. The veteran’s wife has left him. The foreigner’s wife also leaves him, to go back home. The neophite is frustrated by religious conviction. And the fat lady has a mum at home. There is also the boss who comes in from time to time, giving the others a chance to snigger behind his back and abruptly shuffle papers. All of H all’s characters aspire to the stereotype. In that sense, it is precisely that brand of caricatured satire which is perfectly palatable to the real people he is depicting, in this case public servants. They can laugh at themselves and feel utterly tolerant. This is the liberals’ accomodation to satire, more a celebration than an excoriation. Two of the actors displayed an ability to cope with the timing. Jim W right plays the technician who bolts in on occasion to grab chairs from under people, or to take orders. Every time he entered, the play began to kick. He enlivens it, as a character, in the same way the removalist does in W illiamson’s play. Paul Corcoran as the neophite was excellent. He managed to make a hum an being out of a cliche. John Tasker chose a completely n atu ral istic mode for this play. It is what is usually done in Australia when the piece is seemingly realistic. After all, the logic goes, don’t people in an office sit most of the time? We want this to look real. The problem here, though, is that there is little real about five people speaking for two hours in one clever line after another. This kind of comedy distills reality; and the direction has to equally distill gestures, movements, and tones. They sat there like a drawing-room full of deadweights. Roger Hall was originally an English man, and the programme explains that this is one reason why he can write “ with such hum our and compassion” . In a sense, New Zealand has suffered as we have. Certain polished modes of expression from England have become our paradigms of theatricality. In the long run, this stifles national expression more than it stim ulates it.
F L E X T IM E _______________ ROGER PULVERS Flextime by R o g e r H a ll. Canberra Theatre Trust in association with CTC 7, Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre, ACT. Opened 28 September 1978. Director, J o h n T a s k e r ; Assistant, W ill T h o m p s o n . John, P e t e r N e ttle to n ; Hugh, I v o r V iv ia n ; Jim, B ill G in n a n e ; Beryl, B e r n a d e tt e V in c e n t; Michael, P a u l C o r c o r a n ; Boss, J o h n M ic h a e l T h o m p s o n ; Wally, J im W r ig h t .
New Zealand has produced a variety of rather fine playwrights. Max Richards and
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Gone With Hardy was given a workshop at the 1978 National Playwrights’ Conference and first professionally performed by the Melbourne Theatre Company at Russell Street Theatre on September 21st 1978. It was directed by Ray Lawler and designed by Steve Nolan. The original cast were:
D A V ID ALLEN David Allen was born in Birmingham England in 1936. He completed an honours degree in English at Liverpool University in 1958 and spent seven years teaching drama and English in secondary schools. From 1966 to 1970, David Allen worked in Uganda, East Africa as an education officer; he was involved with writing for education television and teaching. He founded “Theatre Ltd” with African playwright Robert Serumaga, and directed plays by Serumaga, Athol Furgard and Shakespeare. Returning to the UK in 1970, David Allen took the professional directors course under Hugh Hunt at Manchester University. He directed productions at Manchester School of Theatre and Theatre 69 and was appointed assistant director of Manchester Library Theatre. In 1972, David Allen was appointed lecturer in drama at Salisbury College of Advanced Education, South Australia. He has written and directed for the College and for various Adelaide groups, including Adelaide University Theatre Guild and Adelaide La Mama. David Allen co-founded Troupe, Adelaide’s ‘Alternative’ Theatre group, in 1976. He has written — and had produced — four plays by Troupe: a version and adaptation of
Stanley Jefferson Kate Laurel Jock McTavish
CHARACTERS IN T H E PLA Y Stanley Jefferson Kate Laurel Jock McTavish In America, just before the First World War, an English comedian teamed up with an Australian singer and dancer to form a vaudeville act. They called themselves Stan and Kate Laurel. Later, Stan went on to become one half of the famous comedy pair — Laurel and Hardy. Kate was shipped off back to Australia. This play is about Stan and Kate.
by David Allen
Henry V, I f Ever I Get Back Here I ’ll Stay, Behold The Gay Marsupial and Don’t Listen To Gouger.
In July 1978, David Allen was appointed to the SATC Board of Governors.
A CT O N E Spot on Stan. He is in his late twenties and wears baggy trousers and shirt. It is the year ¡910. He is on the stage o f an empty theatre in a small town in the mid-west of America, experi menting with comic characteristics. Stan faces the audience: A mirror. Immobile, deep in thought. Slowly brings up hand and tentatively scratches head. Thinks. Turns scratch into well-known cupped hand hair-ruffle. Smiles with pleasure. Stylises the cupped hand and the 'idiot' smile. Extends the gag: Tries to pull cupped hand off head: It won’t budge! Hits it hard with other hand. Pain! Nurses hand and cries silently: The well-known cry-baby’face. Relaxes and wanders away, thinking. Blackout. Lights up. Jock is rehearsing. A caricature Scot, in costume. As he sings, Kate wanders on, hesitant, putting on a bold front — looking for someone. Jock:
I’ve got a furry sporran And I call it Little Ben! I’ve had it here for fifty year — And it’s nineteen hundred and ten! Yes! It's nineteen hundred and ten And I’ve suddenly got a yen... Excuse me! What! Oh, aye, girlie...! I'm looking for... Don’t I know you...? ...Mr Stanley Jefferson... ...I’m sure I know you, girlie... ...about a job... ...aye, I’m sure I do! (grabs Kate: breaks into song and dance) Och, it’s nineteen hundred and ten And I’ve suddenly got a yen... K a te : Let go, ya dirty old bugger! K a te : Jock: K a te : Jock: K a te : Jock: K a te : Jock:
Ron C h a llin o r C o le tte M an n T o m m y D y s a rt
J o c k : Gi’ us a feel o’ yer titties! K a te : Geroff, yer drongo! J o c k : Just a wee feel...a wee touch...? K a te : I’ll kick yer in the crutch! J o c k : Promises, promises...!
She knees him. Cry o f pain from Jock. Stan has wandered on again. He is practising funny leg actions and becomes deliberately entangled. K a te : You asked for it! Bloody old fool...!
Jock limps off. Kate, noticing Stan, straightens herself up. She is in her thirties, a little worn but tough, vivacious. K a te : I’m an artiste... J o c k : (offstage) Jesus Christ, ma goolies! K a te : (half to Stan) I’m no bloody Scotch
harlot... J o c k : (offstage) Jesus Christ! K a te : He won’t touch me again...
Stan continues entangling his legs. Kate watches him. Stan grins at her. K a te : Does that old wreck belong to you? S ta n : The one in the kilt and the tarn o’
shanter? K a te : The one with the horny hands! S ta n : That’s Jock: he’s a Scot. K a te : I’d never've guessed! S ta n : He likes big women, porridge with salt on it and Bell’s Highland Whiskey. He sings songs about his furry sporran and roamin’ in the gloamin’. K a te : If he roams near me again he’ll be singing them in a high squeaky voice! (pause) What are you doing? S ta n : Practising. K a te : Does it hurt? S ta n : Frequently. K a te : Contortionist? S ta n : Masochist! K a te : You should take something for it!
Stan unwinds himself and offers his hand. S ta n : Stanley Jefferson. K a te : Kate Laurel.
They shake hands formally. Stan eyes Kate speculatively. Walks around her.
There is no particular setting: The mood is ’backstage’, film lots, agents offices, provincial theatres ¡807-1924; America and Australia. Costume and lighting changes show the passing o f time and place. There should be a rack o f costumes on stage for the actors' use, and all props should be readily available. Wherever possible, the actors should remain on stage. S ta n : Are you good, Kate? K a te : I’m a good girl. S ta n : Are you any good though? K a te : Depends. S ta n : You’re Australian. K a te : As Ned Kelly. S ta n : (deadpan) I never caught his act. K a te : (also deadpan) Great finale,
(demon strates) Rope round the neck. ‘Such is life!’ Down goes the trap. Choke, choke! S ta n : (stilldeadpan) You were there? K a te : (also still deadpan) Gave him a kiss, a pat on the bum and pulled the lever. Mother had to lift me up, of course... S ta n : ...of course... K a te : ...I was only a young thing at the time.
Pause (friendly) What are you doing in America, Kate? S ta n :
K a te : The same as you. S ta n : Nobody’s the same as me. K a te : Cocky! I heard you were looking for a
partner. S ta n : I’ve got a partner!
Light up on Jock, caught swigging a bottle. K a te : You can do better than that! J o c k : What’s that? Do better than me? Yer
tight-buttocked old bag yer! Let me tell you something! Six years ago — when I first come here — nineteen hundred and four that was — I was earning...well never you mind...but it was more money than you’ve ever seen! Aye! (swigs) They rolled in ter see me and me sporran. The New York City Music Hall was so packed they had people sitting on the stage behind me! What about that then! People were paying two dollars just ter get a glimpse o’ ma arse!
Points behind with his bottle and almost falls over. Staggers out o f spot. K a to : Is all that true? S ta n : Most of it. He was making two thousand
dollars a week. K a ta : Two thousand! Him? S ta n : Him. He made them pay him every week. T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V E M B E R 1978
Cash. All in small bills. K a te : Where did it all go? S ta n : On porridge with salt, Bell’s Highland Whiskey and big women.
Jock staggers back into spot. Jo c k : Jinks, Stanley! You’re an awful liar, sure you are...
Staggers out o f spot. Spot out. K a te : I think you can do better than him. You
need a woman. S ta n : Frequently. K a te : 1 mean in the act.
Pause. S ta n : What do you do, then? K a te : You name it! S ta n : (wearily knowing) Sing, I suppose?
Kate throws out her arms and lets rip with one high thrilling note. S ta n : And dance?
Kate does a quick tap on the spot and ends coyly looking over her shoulder at Stan. S ta n : I need a straight man. A straight man. K a te : I do impersonations. I’ve seen Vesta
Kate grabs a top hat and monocle and starts to do Burlington Bertie’— I’m Burlington Bertie, I rise at ten thirty...
Stan watches. A spark o f interest. He decides to test her. Can she pick up a routine? Stan catches Kate’s attention. He does his headscratching routine. She imitates him. He sets off round the stage doing his famous loose-limbed march. Kate falls in with him. Stan does his double shuffle to keep in step. Kate imitates him. They alternate going in and out o f step. Kate becomes Hardy-esque and as the routine grows there is heard faintly in the background the ‘Cuckoo Waltz’ associated with Laurel and Hardy. Eventually Kate stops and gives the audience a long slow weary exasperated look (the Oliver Hardy slow burn). Stan goes right off stage — and springs back almost immediately with a notebook and a snappy reporter’s hat. Another routine. Kate picks it up but the information is genuine. S ta n : (American accent) Tell me, Miss Laurel, what brought you to these United States? K a te : What? S ta n : (heavily patient) What brought you to these United States? K a te : Oh, yes! (Gauche Australian country girl) I dunno its name. S ta n : Its name? K a te : The boat that brought me. Dad put me on it at Sydney. It was night and I was sea sick all the way. S ta n : (scribbling) I see: Sick at Sea Soubrette Skips Ship San Francisco. And then? K a te : Looking for work. Journeys by train. And stage-coach... S ta n : Stage-coach! K a te : Must have been the last one...! S ta n : Of course! And then? K a te : I cooked on a ranch and was a waitress in Cleveland Ohio. I sang and danced in Chicago. I missed Australia. S ta n : (scribbles) Kate Craves Kangaroos. Maiden Mourns Marsupial. K a te : Then I met the doctor. S ta n : (looking up) The doctor? K a te : In a bar... S ta n : Drinking? K a te : He was. I was serving. He offered me an engagement. S ta n : Matrimonial? K a te : Travelling. Dancing and selling. S ta n : A tent show? K a te : Not always. S ta n : Mostly? K a te : Sometimes we played in permanent structures. 40
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V E M B E R 1978
S ta n : ‘Permanent structures'? K a te : Yes. S ta n : Was it a medicine show? K a te : High class medicine. Certified. S ta n : Rattlesnake bites? K a te : Lumbago and sciatica! S ta n : High class? K a te : Certified. I did a hula-hula, (shows
now. He tried to put his hand up my dress. Jo c k : (as spot finally goes out) Only because I knew what you were .. .
Pause. Stan practises various clov:nfaces. him)
It’s from the South Seas. S ta n : I know where it’s from. K a te : Australia’s in the South Seas. Doctor Cureall thought it would be appropriate. S ta n : (dropping American accent) Doctor Cureall? K a te : Yes. S ta n : Cure-all?Crikey!
The routine is over. K a te : It was a very high class show. Nobody
was allowed to come round the back of the tent afterwards. S ta n : Or the ‘permanent structure’? K a te : No. We played the desert towns. You’d be surprised how many miners suffer from lumbago. S ta n : No I wouldn’t! Did you rub their backs? K a te : (with dignity) Only after they’d purchased a bottle. S ta n : So you did rub their backs. K a te : (coy) Not when I was doing the hulahula.
She demonstrates again, dancing seductively round Stan. S ta n : (watching her) Unthinkable! Spot on Jock infull performance regalia. Jo c k : She’s a whore, Stanley. I should know! K a te : Slandrous old sod! (to Stan) He had his hand up my dress! Jo c k : Me and the world, girlie! I know you, by Christ! I’ve played Down Under. All those dusty towns, all those wet-thighed, wide-eyed corrupt little virgins... Light change. Music: ‘Road To Gundagai’ very fast. Jock is on stage, Australia, Doing his act. Jo c k : Where the hell am I? (staggers round) Wagga what? Woollamoo — who? What year is this? 1897? It must be Australia. Australia! Jesus Christ, that's a long way from Scotland. (something on his foot) What’s this then? feels it) Kangaroo shit. I reckon. (Flicks some into Audience) What do you reckon, pal? (tastes it) Aye, definitely kangaroo. Bland and boring like this whole bloody country, (booing) And the same to you. pal! (takes a drink. Spills some on outsized sporran) See this! See this! Ma wee lurry friend, ma-constant companion. Ma own personal travellin’ pussy. Miow! Nice pussy. (strokes sporran) Pussy want drinkie? (sticks bottletop in sporran) That’s better, (sly look) Which reminds me. Is there any wee girlie out there who'd like to take me to supper after the show? Any raw-boned local maiden who’d like a bite o' kangaroo and chips0 Perhaps a stroke o’ ma wee furry friend, (dirty laugh) Aw ccome on! I’m no that bad! I’ve got all ma own teeth!
(grimaces obscenely showing black spots) And you should see ma muscles! flexes arm) What about that for a swellin’? (dirty laugh) Well then . .. (changes tack) Any young lady out there like to get into the theatre? I've got connections yer know, (strokes bottle) I heard that, pal! You've got a mind like a shit-filled haggis! No. but seriously . . . seriously . . . I'm here in this country lookin’ for talent (I’m always lookin' for talent. I'll tell you that!) No, but seriously, there must some ambitious little girlie out there somewhere. . . (almost to himself) some wet-thighed, wide-eyed corrupt little virgin . . .
Spotfades on Jock. K a te : 1 wasn't corrupt. And I'm not corrupt
S ta n : Who told you I needed a partner? K a te : Eddie Varley. S ta n : Eddie Varley, eh? K a te : Yes. He said you used to work with him. S ta n : He used to work with me. (hard) Him and
his wife. Pam. That was his wife’s name: Pam. Called ourselves Eddie, Stan and Pam. K a te : Not 'Stan, Pam and Eddie’? S ta n : No. K a te : You weren’t first? S ta n : I’ve said. K a te : Why not? S ta n : Eddie. Stan and Pam sounded better. My idea. K a te : Oh yes? S ta n : My act. My ideas. My talent. K a te : Get you! S ta n : I like to run things. K a te : Do you? S ta n : You may get to find that out. (pause) Where'd you meet Eddie? In a bar? K a te : How’d you guess? S ta n : I know Eddie. K a te : Wrong. He wasn’t drinking. S ta n : That makes a change. K a te : He was serving: we both were. Between engagements you see. S ta n : I see. K a te : He talked a lot about you. S ta n : I bet. K a te : No, he was full of compliments. He said you used to do imitations of Chaplin.
Stan stops doing the general clovenfaces. S ta n : That’s right. I did Charlie, (demonstrates: Walk and shy approach to girl — in this case Kate. Kate plays up appropriately) I was his understudy once. K a te : Understudy? You! S ta n : Don't be cheeky. We all have to start somewhere — even Australians! K a te : Why'd you break with Eddie? S ta n : What did he say? K a te : He didn’t. S ta n : I was too good. K a te : Oh you kid! S ta n : I kid not. That's why we broke up. I was getting all the laughs. They were just feeds. Eddie didn’t like that. K a te : And Pam? S ta n : She was with me. K a te : I bet. S ta n : All the way. K a te : You don't say. S ta n : So Eddie started hitting the bottle. K a te : And Pam? S ta n : No. just the bottle! K a te : Quick aren’t you! S ta n : have to be! (pause) Anyhow, one night in New York Eddie took over the set: the gags, the punch lines. K a te : You let him? S ta n : Deliberately. K a te : What happened? S ta n : (turns dov.n thumb) Disaster. The whole act. I made my point. K a te : Cunning. S ta n : Strategy. Eddie got very upset. Sarcastic. Abused the audience. ‘You dim Yankee buggers!’ he yelled. He'd had a few of course. K a te : Of course; S ta n : You can't do that sort of thing in America — especially New York: 'you dim Yankee buggers!' You can't do that. K a te : Of course not. (pause) He didn’t tell me all that. S ta n : He wouldn't. It doesn't matter anyway. Last time 1 saw him we were friends again.
(funny look) Sort of. K a te : What does that funny look mean? S ta n : Perhaps your his revenge. K a te : What! S ta n : Just a thought. And here's another. I don't think you'll do. K a te : You haven't tried me properly. You haven't seen what I can do! S ta n : I've seen enough, and I've got a feeling . . . K a te : Lucky you! I'm going to sing . . . Sets herself up. S ta n : No. you're not . . . Kate pushes him aside and does the first verse and chorus o f 'Gundagai', exuberahtly extravagant, with gestures. Very broad but skilled and enjoyable, Stan keeps on trying to interrupt and getting pushed aside (we sense he is deliberately doing this, aware o f its comic possibilities) with the last line Stan sets himself up fo r a slap in the mouth and the inevitable pratfall. Kate looks down at him. K a te : (this is now a catchphrase) Contortionist? S ta n : Masochist. K a te : You should take something for it. 1 will now dance. . . Kate does a tap routine to Gundagai'. /4s she passes Stan the second time, he grabs her ankle from floor freeze. K a te : Let go of my ankle. S ta n : Is this your ankle? K a te : I am dancing! S ta n : I don’t need a dancer. K a te : What do you need? S ta n : A straight man. K a te : (relaxing) When do I start? S ta n : A straight man’s got to know comedy. Timing! K a te : (complacent)She’ll be right! S ta n : And visual stuff. Mime. K a te : I can do ‘Man chasing butterfly’ (shows him) S ta n : (up by now) Don’t bother. . . K a te : ‘Girl treading in dogshit . . . ?' S ta n : ..... I’ll postpone the pleasure .. . (turns away) K a te : (Grabbing ■him by the collar and swinging him round to face her) What about ‘Pom with a stick up his bum!’ S ta n : face to face) You're very aggressive, aren’t you? k a te : It's my nature. Give me a go. S ta n : Give you a go at what? K a te : Being your partner. S ta n : You’ve got no experience. K a te : Yes I have. S ta n : I don't need a hula dancer. K a te : Eddie Varley thought I’d suit. S ta n : I bet. K a te : He said l had the makings. S ta n : Did he have lumbago? K a te : What? S ta n : Did you rub his back? K a te : I'll rub yours if you like. S ta n : Oh no you won't... K a te : Anything else? S ta n : Don't be indecent. And one other thing. K a te : What? S ta n : You're standing on my foot! Blackout. Gundagai’ very fast. Lights up. Jock is on. J o c k : What.’ Where? Oh! Aye — !. There yu are! Now, the winner of the Bundaberg Novelty Dance Competition of 1897 is ... it's here somewhere, (reaches in sporran and pulls out bottle) Now, how d'ya reckon that got in there? (takes a swig. Forgets audience fo r a moment) What’ Oh, aye! Now the Arthur Jefferson Prize for the Choicest Bit of Fresh Colonial Talent is ... (reaches in and pulls out pair o f frilly knickers)... that reminds me... I must get my bicycle pump fixed! What? Oh — ! Aye — ! The
winner of the Jock McTavish Award For (reaches deep in sporran and winces) Eccentric Dancing Down Under goes to...Ker-ist! (peers in) I must get that fixed too! finally pulls out scrap o f paper) At last! Here we are! The prize goes to your own, your very own — Nellie Katerina Wintulich... (applause) What a lovely name! Come on, Nellie Kate! Come and get it! (leer). Gundagai' Jock is off. Light change. A hint o f domesticity. Kate is sewing a hole in Stan’s pants or socks. S ta n : You changed your name. K a te : Nellie Kate Wintuluch! Wouldn’t you? S ta n : My father was A J Jefferson: England’s greatest showman... J o c k : (offstage) And Scotland's...! S ta n : ...and Scotland's. Yes, Arthur J Jefferson, the impressario. I’m proud of his name. K a te : What did the ‘J’ stand for? S ta n : Nothing. The old man just thought a middle name sounded more important. Yes, Arthur J Jefferson! K a te : Nice for some! You weren't called Nellie Katerina Wintuluch were you? You weren’t brought up on a cattle station with a mob of rough men. You weren’t hungry for something different. Anything different! S ta n : I had my difficulties, you know. K a te : (reflective) I was determined I was going to conquer the world. So I went to Brisbane. Got my first dancing job there. I felt marvellous. ‘Goodbye Nellie Wintulich' I said to myself. No more drudgery! No more: ‘Nellie, where’s me dinner? ‘Nellie, have yer seen me bloody boots?’ God! I hated that name: Nellie Kate Wintulich! Wintulich! S ta n : Where did ‘Laurel’ come from? K a te : (coming out o f reverie) What? S ta n : ‘Laurel’? Where did you pick that name up? K a te : My mother's name: Lorelei, (pause) Lorelei — Laurel. Get it. S ta n : Got it! K a te : Her maiden name was Lorelei Brandt. S ta n : Very pretty. German? K a te : Clever, (pause) Father was a real Fritzie. A peasant. Mother hated him. She was a schoolteacher, a pastor’s daughter. They met at a church social. The one graceful thing he could do was dance. She was swept off her feet. (Laughs gently at joke) There’s a photograph of him with her on his arm — very stiff, with a great shining well-scrubbed face. I suppose she mistook it for elegance. She soon learnt. He was an animal. He ruined all the boys. When he died she burnt all his clothes and sold the bed they'd slept in. And I got rid of his name and took hers. Kate Laurel. A new life. S ta n : (impressed) Crikey! (does his head scratch) K a te : (imitating him) Crikey! They look at each other. K a te : (seductive) Want your back rubbed, sport? S ta n : (coy) Crikey! Freeze. Light change. Stan and Kate very close, perhaps sitting on bed. S ta n : Stanley Jefferson and Kate? Pause. Kate snuggles up to Stan. K a te : Kate Laurel and Stan? Pause. S ta n : You must be crackers, (uncertain) Kate starts to undress Stan. S ta n : (thinking about it) Stanley and Kate Jefferson? Kate pauses fo r a moment and then continues undressing Stan. K a te : Kate and Stanley Laurel1? Pause. S ta n : You can't be serious, (even more uncertain).
K a te : ‘Laurel’ sounds better.
Kate begins to unbutton her blouse. Stan realises Laurel' does sound better. S ta n : Stan Laurel and Kate? Kate stops unbuttoning. S ta n : (very quickly)Stan and Kate Laurel! Kate considers fo r a moment. Then smiles and continues unbuttoning. Blackout. In blackout. K a te : Contortionist? S ta n : Masochist! K a te : You should take something for it. Like me! Spot on Jock. Train sounds. Train music. Jock does travelling routine. Towards the end. he is joined by Stan and Kate. J o c k : (train rhythm chant) Big theatres, little theatres, Large and small, Come and see Ameriky, Come and see it all. Chug-a-lug to Tennasee Puff along to Maine Slide across to Arkansas Then it starts again — Texas, Kansas, Oregan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michegan: burlesque and double-talk! Illinois, Conneticut — you only have ter ask 'er And she’ll tag along behind yer until yer reach New York! Train whistle. (Jock, as porter) New York! K a te /S ta n : New York? J o c k : New York! (to audience) 1912! Blackout: Lights up on Kate and Stan. Kate talks to imaginary agent. K a te : Good afternoon, sir. We are vaudeville artistes looking for employment in your theatre. You may have heard of us. My name is Kate Laurel and this... Silent Film' music. Routine with a strong element o f ‘Laurel and Hardy' in it. Kate turns round to introduce Stan. He is looking the other way. She looks where he is looking. He is obviously eyeing up some girl. He waves to her and she clearly waves back and beckons him. He points to himself: Me? Kate watches angrily, arms akimbo. Stan does his loose-limbed walk over to the girl. Kate gives a Hardy' look at the audience and follows. Stan sits by the girl and chats her up in mime (more
Colette Mann as Kate Laurel in Gone with Hardy. T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM BE R 1978
like Chaplin at this stage o f his career). Kate stands behind him. Stan doesn't know she is there. Kate taps Stan lightly on the shoulder (very much the 'Hardy' fastidious tap). Stan brushes his shoulder: A fly? Kate taps again. Same reaction from Stan. A nd Again. Same reaction! Furious. Kate grabs Stan’s shoulder. Stan freezes. Realisation. He carefully feels Kate's hand. He feels up her arm to her face, standing up without looking around. Explores face. Slowly turns round, hand on face, and gives Kate a sheepish grin. Kate slaps his hand down (very ‘H ardy’) grabs him by the ear and marches him back to the imaginary agent... End o f music and routine. K a te : ...and this, as I was saying, is my de facto husband, Stanley... Stan does cry-baby face. Light change. Spot on Jock. A quick vulgar rhyme. J o c k : See ma furry sporran, I’ll no tell yer where it’s been — But it’s had its day. I’m sad ter say — The year’s nineteen thirteen! (To audience) My, but time flies when yer havin’ fun! Just take a look at these two! (indicates Stan and Kate). Light change. Stan and Kate in bed? Stan with a glass o f whiskey. Long silence. Kate puts out her hand. Stan automatically passes the glass to her. She drinks, and he takes it back. K a te : Cissy Morgan’s getting married. S ta n : Again? K a te : Things don’t always work out. S ta n : She must be forty if she’s a day! K a te : No, she’s not! (pause) And what difference does that make? S ta n : She should know better. K a te : Forty’s not old. S ta n : It is with Cissy Morgan. Have you seen the size of her? K a te : Life begins at forty. S ta n : Yes, if you’re an elephant! They live to a hundred and fifty. K a te : She wants to settle down. S ta n : ...the elephant?...! mean Cissy?... K a te : Don't be so bloody hard, Stan! There’s a cruel streak in you. S ta n : Cissy Morgan's a stupid cow — or elephant, whichever you like — She’s past it! Why doesn’t she give up? K a te : I used to work with her. S ta n : 1 know. You’ve told me. Often! She was past it then. K a te : She was from my part of the world. A Kiwi. S ta n : Very appropriate! A fat bird that can't fly. K a te : She’s always talking about going back to New Zealand. S ta n : (drinks)Oh yes. K a te : Perhaps she will. Now she's getting married, (takes glass from Stan and drinks) I'd like to go home some time. S ta n : (takes glass back) Would you? (drinks) I'll have to stop this... K a te : What? S ta n : The drinking. K a te : It’s nice and cosy. (Takes glass again) Just a trip. S ta n : To Australia? K a te : Yes. S ta n : Tell me about it. K a te : Mm? S ta n : Tell me about Australia. K a te : (out o f the blue) Marry me, Stanley. S ta n : (quick as a flash) No. Tell me about Australia. K a te : (mock coy) Make an honest woman of me. 42
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
S ta n : Dishonest are you? I’d wondered why the takings were so low. Went to treat the band to a snort, opened the cashbox — et voila! (that’s French) what do I find? Three quarters, one dime and a photo of Chaplin signed: ‘Sorry I left my wallet at home — best wishes, Charlie!’ K a te : I'd like to be respectable. S ta n : And respected? Who wouldn't? Are all Australian women like you? K a te : (reflective) Children... S ta n : (patronising joke) Oh surely not! A little unsophisticated perhaps... K a te : I would //£? children...! S ta n : You mean you don’t now? I thought all Aussies liked kids. K a te : Stop it, Stan! You know what I mean. I warn children. Pause. S ta n : Does your bum itch? K a te : What? S ta n : If your bum itches, it’s a sure sign you really want kids. There’s an old Lancashire saying: 'A rare itchy bum shows the babbies’ll cum' K a te : I hate you. S ta n : Could be worms, mind you! Worms give you an itchy bum. And you get worms chewing your finger nails — like you do — and not washing your hands after the toilet. Now if you want to be respectable, Kate, you must stop chewing your nails — or you must make sure you wash your hands straight after the toilet. None of us kids chewed our nails. The minute we looked like starting mother’d put mustard on our fingers — you know I can remember the taste to this... K a te : (breaking in) I’ve had offers. From other artists! S ta n : That midget in Michigan? K a te : Firm proposals... S ta n : The dwarf in Duluth? The giant in Jersey? K a te : Marriage proposals! S ta n : I liked the giant. He had worms — snakes actually — I recommended my mother’s cure: Doctor Dick's Dainty Drops... K a te : 1 wouldn't be treated like this in Australia... S ta n : I suppose you told the Jersey Giant about the medicine man you used to work for. Now I bet he had something for worms. Doctor Cureall’s Quick Crawler Killer. Or what about his Balm for Bum-Biters... K a te : (yells) I want a husband! S ta n : Then you’d better go and find yourself one. (gets up. takes doll from props) Here's a family to be going on with! (throws it to Kate). Stan goes off. K a te : following) Very funny. Stanley! Now you come here!
Light change. Silent Film' music routine. Stan and Kate standing in bus queue. Kate is nyrsing the doll: A crying baby. Stan, doing a Chaplin, raises his hat politely, admires baby. Looks closer: Is it his? Hides face from Kate behind hat. Kate sees friend in distance. Asks Stan to mind baby while she goes and talks. Stan, still hiding face, reluctantly agrees. Baby cries: Stan rocks it. Considers putting hand over its mouth, but changes it to a wave when Kate turns to wave to him. The baby wets him. Dawning realisation. Stan makes as if to throw the baby away, but changes movement to rocking as Kate turns round again and almost catches him. Smiles at her. She thanks Stan, takes the baby. Kate looks at the baby, looks at him: Is he the father? She coyly points out the similarity. Stan denies it, hides face, runs off. Light change. Spot on Jock. J o c k : I hate ma furry sporran
I’ll tell yer that, ma friend! It does nae work — it needs a perk Ter goet it on the mend! Lights on Kate. She sits morosely, swinging doll by the leg. J o c k : (to audience) Mother and child! Jock vzanders over and sits by Kate. J o c k : Hello Kate. K a te : Hello Jock. J o c k : How’s the bairn? K a te : Don't be funny! J o c k : Gi’ing it a wee suckle, are yer? K a te : I’m not in the mood. J o c k : I could do wi’ a bit o’ tit. K a te : You'll get a bit of fist in a minute! Kate brandishes the doll at him. J o c k : O.K.! O.K.! (pause) D’yer mind if I smoke ma pipe? K a te : Do what you like. Jock puts his hand up her dress. She pushes it away. Except that? J o c k : Where's Stan? K a te : Working on a routine. J o c k : Gi’ me a kiss? K a te : Smoke your pipe. J o c k : Gi' me a wee feel (handon her knee) K a te : Geroff! J o c k : Just a wee feel! Kate takes a pin from her hair and sticks it in his hand. J o c k : Ker - ist! Nurses hand. Y'gave me a feel in Bendigo. Remember? K a te : That was a long time ago. And you lured me backstage. J o c k : ‘Lured’? Jinks yer didna take much ‘luring’! K a te : My mother told me to go round. She trusted everybody. Jock: Aye. I remember yer mother. (sentimental) Poor Irish widow lady. K a te : German. J o c k : Oh aye, German! K a te : We ran a cattle station. J o c k : That’s right. It’s coming back to me now! K a te : (pause) You don’t remember at all, do you? J o c k : Of course I do! The poor wee rich girl wi’ the plaits and the frilly white dress, (pause) Gi’ an old sad case like me a wee kiss and a smell of your garter? K a te : No. J o c k : Let me hold yer little girlie hand then? For old times sake, (pause) If you don’t I’ll tell Stan you’ve got a husband in Australia! K a te : That’s not true! J o c k : There’s some things I remember. And I keep my ears open. I’ve heard you talking to Cissy Morgan. K a te : You old bugger! It isn’t true. J o c k : Isn’t it? Come on! Let me hold yer hand? Pause. K a te : All right. But no finger paddling. Jock holds her hand. Pause. J o c k : He won’t marry you, yer know. K a te : Yes he will. J o c k : No. He’s not domestic. K a te : Yes he is. A family man. Proud of his family. Especially his father. J o c k : Proud of his showmanship. Stan respected his father as a showman. I knew old A J Jefferson in Glasgow. He could be a real bastard at times. But a great showman, (pause) He wrote a play once, yer ken. Called it ‘Lost In The Jungle' D'yer know why? Because he’d been offered the loan of a real live lion for two weeks. He jumped at the chance. Wrote the whole play round that lion. Wrote it in one weekend and that poor mangy old beast was in every scene — usually
j ; j ! j j \
with two or three actors daubed in pig’s blood rolling round the stage and screaming their heads off. Trouble was the lion was harmless and looked it. Nae teeth. Could hardly stand. So they had to have a boy in the wings wi’ a long pointed stick poking it up the arse to make it roar. Only the sound was more like a feeble moan — and the pitiful animal never moved. Just stood there, (pause) The public rolled in. (pause) Terrible show, (pause) Stan was the boy with the stick. K a te : He’ll come back home with me — to Australia. J o c k : (sings) I'll take you home again, Stanley, To where the wattle meets the sea. Bollocks! K a te : He needs me. He was looking for someone like me. Stop paddling! J o c k : Gi’ us a touch? K a te : No. J o c k : He’ll dump you, Kate. You wont entice him Down Under. Now me, on the other hand... K a te : Stop it! J o c k : He’s a worker. Ambitious. Eventually you'll be a drag. K a te : He needs me! J o c k : Hell as like. K a te : He'd like Australia; it's beautiful. J o c k : You got out quick enough. K a te : I was young. J o c k : He’d hate it, then? Sunny oblivion. I’ve been there. America’s the place for him. Australia’s for last resorts. Like me. K a te : I don’t believe you. J o c k : Take your clothes off. K a te : No. J o c k : I’ll tell him about the husband. He'll believe me. (pause) He’ll want to. (pause) Come on. Just a look. K a te : (pause) All right, (starts to unbutton blouse). Light change. J o c k : (to audience) Lovely! (sly) Amazing what you can get if you only ask nicely, (pause) Incidently, they’ve asked me back to the Antipodes — dyer like that, pal, ‘Antipodes’? I’ve had an education, yer ken tell. Aye well, I might go. A Cultural Evening in the Bush with Jock McTavish — something like that, something wi’ a bit o’ refinement! (thinks) Aye! (wanders off, muttering) Bagpipe lessons optional, lassies under thirty no charge... Lights up on Stan; practising his comic Running Around The Corner’ technique. Tries it two or three times. Unsatisfactorily. Kate comes in and watches him. K a te : I'm hungry. Stan ignores her. I’m hungry. He still ignores her. As he lines up fo r another run she grabs him by the trousers at the back. Classical comedy restraint. Stanley! S ta n : Cook something. K a te : Why don't you ever do the cooking? S ta n : You're better at it. K a te : No, Em not. I'm a rotten cook. I just do it. You never offer. S ta n : Let's eat out. K a te : No. We’ll stay in. And you can cook. S ta n : (exasperated) What? Cook what? K a te : (smug) Whatever there is. S ta n : (lining up fo r another run) I fancy ham and eggs. K a te : No ham. S ta n : Eggs? K a te : One left. Pause. S ta n : Tell you what. Kate. You go out. Buy some more ham — and some more eggs, bring them back here, and I'll cook them. K a te : No, Stanley. You go out and buy them, bring them back and cook them.
S ta n : Sod it, Kate! That’s not fair! You’ve got to do your fair share! K a te : You don’t! I cook and clean and rehearse and perform. S ta n : I rehearse and perform. A nd I manage the act. A nd I think up the material. A nd I direct it all. All you’ve got to do is follow me, do the chores, and give me time to work on the gags. K a te : Why? Why should I? S ta n : Because if you don’t, there'll be no gags and no act. We’ll be out of work. On the Bowery. K a te : There you go! If you don’t think up the gags, there'll be no act! I think up material as well! S ta n : When? What? K a te : The hopping gag. S ta n : We couldn't use it. K a te : You wouldn’t use it. S ta n : Sod it all to hell, Kate! It wasn't funny! It wouldn't have worked. K a te : You din’t try it. How do you know? S ta n : Experience. K a te : What experience have you got of kangaroos? S ta n : Don’t be stupid! K a te : Don’t you call me stupid! S ta n : It is stupid! And you know it. You're just being awkward. K a te : (obstinate) No, I'm not. Kangaroos are a novelty. A new twist. It would have been funny. S ta n : Kangaroos aren’t funny, they’re grotesque. K a te : Only in your opinion. S ta n : Opinion based on experience, Kate! On training and know how and nouse! On working with Charlie and Fred Karno! On seeing Dan Leno and Little Titch! K a te : Boring, boring! I’ve heard it all before. S ta n : But you haven’t bloody well listened, have you! (pause) (calmer) Look, Kate. Of course I'm not saying that kangaroo's can’t be funny. You can get a gag out of almost anything if you do it right, if you do it with taste... K a te : (mocking) Taste! Taste! Stick a carrot up me bum and call me Bertie! S ta n : You know what I mean. K a te : No I don't. It was a good idea. Jock thought so. S ta n : I don’t believe that. Not Jock. Unless he was feeling you up again.
K a te : He doesn't! I don’t let him! Pause. Exchange o f glances. S ta n : They always remind me of rats... K a te : You don’t know a good idea when you see one... S ta n : Kangaroos...ugh...(shudders) K a te : We could have had two pouches and big
tails and funny feet... S ta n : I saw some in London Zoo before we sailed... K a te : And we could have hopped to that song...what was it? S ta n : Winter. It was wet. Two bedraggled rats sitting in the corner of a cage... K a te : (sings) We’re two roos, got no shoes (hops) Hop! Hop! Hop! S ta n : Sit down, Kate! K a te : (sings) If you stick things in my pouch You’ll make me cry out ouch... S ta n : For God’s sake, Kate! K a te : What? S ta n : Shut up! K a te : What have you got against kangaroos? S ta n : They’ve got no style; they’re clumsy. K a te : That's all you know. You haven't seen them in the bush. S ta n : And I don’t intend to. That’s one thing you can be absolutely sure of. Get cooking! K a te : Get cooking yourself. S ta n : Ham and eggs please. K a te : No ham! S ta n : Eggs then! K a te : One left. S ta n : I’ll have it. K a te : Right. Breaks it over Stan’s head. S ta n : They're flying low tonight. Blackout. ‘R oad to Gundagai' veryfast. Jock is on. J o c k : Kerist! It’s you lot again! You don’t change much, do yer? Not much change out of you since I was last here. What's that pal? (looks down at sporran, now somewhat the worse for wear) My wee, furry friend? Ah, the moths have been at it. I'm fightin’ a losing battle there. I've tried stuffin' it wi' wee white balls but it's no use, fightin’ a losing battle, and that’s a fact. (Takes a swig) Now where are we? Let’s see? Nineteen Fourteen. That's where we are. The great year. Year of years. Annus mirabillus — as the Greeks say. Annus mirabillus — that’s me!
Colette Mann (Kate Laurel), Ron Challinor (Stanley Jefferson) in the MTC’s production of Gone With Hardy. T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Miracle arse; that sums me up. (Turns bum to audience and lifts kilt fo r a quick flash) Enjoy that did yer? Well, enjoy it while you can. Nineteen Fourteen. You'll be out there soon, you sons of Australia, shaking the shit from your shoes, eating rat pie, tossing in the trenches. Weeeee here comes a whizz hang! Oops! A bit of shrapnel up the kilt (does fu n n y walk) and bang goes yer whizzers — and yer prospects. (Shouts) What about your prospects Kate? Things still going well for you in Ameriky? Kate is writing. Stan enters, skittish. S ta n : I say, Kate, mate! K a te : Go away, Stanley. I’m writing. S ta n : (leaning over pretending to read) Deer Muvver, I miss you a lot — and the sheep — but I have found the love of a good man called Stan. K a te : Get away, you larrikin. S ta n : Larry Who? K a te : I'm writing to Ted, my brother. S ta n : Poor Ted. K a te : He’s joined up. S ta n : I hope he is. Otherwise he’ll leave bits of himself all over the place. K a te : He’s going to fight. Mother will miss him. S ta n : (sings serious) Oh mother, I’m going to fight for the King Oh mother, the hells are starting to ring The bells they are ringing, the drums they do sound In a month and a half I’ll be lain in the ground. K a te : He’s going to do his bit. S ta n : And I shall do mine. Shoulder arms and march away... K a te : As far away as possible... J o c k : Left, right, left, right, left, right! Stan marches around the stage, Jock joins him. so does Kate. They halt and put on appropriate hats. S ta n : There was an Englishman. J o c k : A Seottie. K a te : And a Digger. All: And they went to War. K a te : Gallipoli. J o c k : The Somme. S ta n : Hollywood. K a te /J o c k : Hollywood? S ta n : Hollywood. You'll see. Attention! About face! Quick march! They march round stage. Stan is last doing his famous double shuffle to keep in step. J o c k : Halt! Jock becomes a sergeant. Stan and Kate become
Laurel Hardyfigures. Now I'm going to turn you two into soldiers if it's the last thing I do. K a te : Excuse me, Mr Sergeant. J o c k : What is it? K a te : Well you see, sir, myself and my friend here, Mr Laurel, would like to beg your indulgence... S ta n : But if it's already been begged, we’ll go and beg somebody else’s... J o c k : What? K a te : Quiet, Stanley! Please excuse my friend. No, you see sir, we were led to believe that while members of the armed forces we would be employed in areas appropriate and suitable to our talents. J o c k : Oh, you did, did you? K a te : Something in the entertainment line perhaps. Isn’t that so, Stanley? S ta n : You're darn tootin'. J o c k : (glaring at Stan) Something in the entertainment line eh? K a te : Yes sir, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. J o c k : Something in th e . entertainment line. Well let me think (v.alks round them) The entertainment line. (Kate and Stan smile at each ohter encouragingly. Jock snaps his fingers. They jump.) Got it! (Goes and fetches two brooms. Hands one to each) There you are. Stan and Kate look at them. Pause. K a te : Excuse me, Mr. Sergeant sir. J o c k : Well? K a te : These are brooms. J o c k : No they're not. Stan and Kate look at the brooms and at each other: incomprehension. K a te : They’re not? J o c k : They' re not. K a te : (very carefully) Well could you tell us what they are. J o c k : That’s a trombone: and that’s a banjo! (Stan and Kate took at the brooms again) Play them! Entertain me! (more astonishment) (with menace) I said play them. Stan breaks into his cry-baby routine: Kate looks frightened. Jock roars. 1 said play them! (Kate and Stan half heartedly pretend to play the brooms) No, no, no! Not like that. That’s not how you play a trombone. You play a trombone like this! (takes broom from Stan and begins to sweep the floor) Now you try it. (Stan cautiously begins to sweep) And you play a banjo like this, (takes Kate's broom and sweeps) See (gives it back. Kate sweeps). Good, good!
Sweet music. A beautiful sound. Keep it going boys, (beats time) Keep it going (marches o ff stage). Kate and Stan sweep. Then Kate stops, realising. She looks at Stan who still sweeps, building it up to a lyrical sweeping dance: 'Skaters waltz in background. K a te : Stanley! Stanley! What are you doing? S ta n : I'm playing this trombone. Kate does slow burn to audience. K a te : Stanley! That is not a trombone! S ta n : It's not? K a te : No, it’s not! Stan scratches his head and looks at broom. S ta n : But the Sergeant said... K a te : That is a broom! I know what he said. But don't you see: he's trying to make suckers out of us. Now stop sweeping! (reluctantly Stan .siop.sVTake a rest. Kate leans on her broom and contemplates the view. Tentatively Stan copies her. Pause. Stan looks at Kate. Looks at broom. Slowly lifts it. Kate looks sideways at Stan, then with exasperation at audience. Stan carefully puts broom into place as i f it were a trombone. Puts it to his mouth. Kate sighs. Stan blows. Surreal ist¡cally a wild jazz trombone chorus bursts out and Stan erupts into a mad frenzy o f playing. Kate jumps in astonishment, then grabs own broom and chases Stan off-stage... K a te : Get out of here and leave me in peace! Laughter from Stan. Light change. Jock. Stan and Kate march back on stage: Routine. Marching/Dance recruiting. J o c k : Dyer want ter join the army, D'yer waht ter fight the Hun? Dyer want a go at Johnny T urk Yer'll have a gang of fun! K a te : Then lift yer trusty rifle And hump yer bloody pack We'll march you to Gallipoli And then we’ll march you back S ta n : We’ll march you out to Flanders, We'll malch you to the Somme, We’ll march you strong, and march you long. You Aussie, Scot, and Pom. All: We'll be cold in the trenches! We’ll freeze from head to toe So, lads, we think, on second thoughts. We might not even go... S ta n : (speaking) Yes, considering our prospects here! All: (loud) We certainly won't go! Blackout.
END OF ACT I
JudyBarry WRITERS' AGENT
MICHAEL LANCHBERY WED
NOV. 29th — DEC. 23rd
Ellery Crescent, Acton. 47-4222 44
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
HARVEY UNNA & STEPHEN DURBRIDGE LTD Authors’ Agents — London 25a Yarranabbe Road Darling Point Sydney NSW 2027 Phone: (02) 328 1875 Telex: 24482
William Shoubridge, Sydney & New York; Alan Brissenden, Adelaide
BALLET 78 In Sydney this year from November 2nd to November 4th there will be, in the Opera House, a gathering of all the performing dance companies in Australia brought together under the title of Ballet 78. Hitherto the series has always played in Canberra under the aegis of the Canberra Times. Just why the change should come about now I’m not sure. Presumably it’s because the Opera House offers scope for a larger audience to look at the different companies, it seating more than does the Canberra Theatre. This year the companies taking part will be the Australian Ballet, the Dance Company (NSW)', the Australian Dance Theatre, The Queensland Ballet and the West Australian Ballet. New to the venture this year, and hopefully from now on a permanent component, will be the Aborig inal Dance Theatre from Arnemland. Only the Dance Company and the Australian Ballet will be presenting works especially created for the event, the other companies offering works that are already within their respective repertoires. Financial difficul ties (amongst other things) making it impossible for them to premiere works. Frankly this depresses me. The original idea for the Ballet Festivals was to act as a showcase for new and/or promising indigenous choreographers. It was an opportunity to see works performed out of the “workshop” situation, to see them and dissect them and to talk with their respective creators. Now it has changed its emphasis onto the companies as such. Now presumably what we will be asked to comment on will be the differing and relative qualities of the dancers within each group and the overall “image” they are projecting. It would seem that there aren’t any new faces around worth showing off. It is also noteworthy that only the national and major state companies are represented, the smaller, eclectic and “ fringe” companies like the Dance Exchange and the One Extra Dance Company aren’t even getting a look-in.
To a certain extent, even the new works are hardly in the way of being unknown quantities. Graeme Murphy will create something new for the Dance Company and his “ style” is already familiar to Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane aud iences; the only total unknown (to me at least) is Gerard Sibbritt who’ll be choreo graphing on the Australian Ballet.
Perhaps the various companies don’t have faith in the untried choreographers; perhaps they can’t find them; perhaps there aren’t any. Maybe I’m judging the whole venture in the wrong way. Sydney at least has never seen the companies from Queensland, Western Australia and the Victoria/South Aust ralia shared Australian Dance Theatre T H E A T R E A U ST R A LIA N O V tM B L R 1478
BALLET ’78 — A MAJOR GATHERING
and it will be a fine opportunity for audiences to aquaint themselves with them. The whole Festival will also be an excellent opportunity for the companies involved to meet, see and appraise each other; for the dancers to discuss differ ences and similarities; and for critics and Artistic directors to get an indication of where the dance in this country is going at the moment. It isn’t very easy. The companies to a great extent work in isolation, there isn’t the furious cross fertilisation here that there is in Europe and America. In some ways th a t’s good, it gives those involved the chance to form ulate their m anner and style in their own time and according to their own volition. It can also hold back a lot of growth and inhibit stimulation from other styles and the sense of competition. A Dance Festival cannot, however, be judged in the same way as say the National Playwrights Conference, the logistics are more involved. It is one thing to sit down and pull apart a script and another thing to create a ballet with a body of dancers out of the air as it were, especially if there is no great chance that those works will be picked up and put into a reportoire. One hopes of course that this sort of “ work in progress” facet will happen but, within the short space of the Festival, with the bother of setting up the Opera Theatre for the various performances and the time taken up with rehearsals, I doubt if there will be much opportunity. From what I gather, there is going to be a seminar of sorts during the event where dancers and invited critics (including Clive Barnes) will be able to discuss the works and argue the toss about the state of Australian Dance. As with every kind of Festival of this sort most of the interesting and fruitful discoveries will be made away from the stage, during those chance discussions and seminars. On paper it looks like a fairly wide cross section of works are going to be per formed. The Australian Dance Theatre, resurrected in 1976 under Jonathon Taylor will present Flibbertygibbet, a droll piece of knockabout choreographed by Taylor. The ADT is essentially a “ modern” company yet one, gathered at least from past evidence on a classical technique. The ADT has a vast repertoire, with some very potent works in it. Flibberty gibbet how ever doesn’t strike me as being either a very worthwhile dance piece or hardly representative of the ADT. The Queensland Ballet, based securely on a strict classical style will present G arth Welch’s The Visitor a piece th a t’s been with them for some time but never seen beyond that state’s boundaries. The Queensland Ballet has a wide enough structure to be able to incorporate both such work’s as the Bournonville classic La Sylphide and A Little bit o f what you fancy by Leslie White. It being the only subsidised company in Queensland it has perforce to be an eclectic company. Welch’s The Visitor merges both contem porary and classical styles within a dramatic framework. Not all companies can or want to manage that, it will be 46
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
interesting to gauge their degree of success. The West Australian Ballet will be bringing over Night Songs choreographed by Jacqui Carroll, a person who has already received attention and has choreo graphed for most of the various companies in Australia. Night Songs is a lyric piece for three boys and six girls according to the minimal explanation offered me by the company and as such presents their entire company on stage. The Western Australian Ballet, like the Queensland group has to be eclectic, it has to offer a glimpse of as many styles and formats as possible. It has to cover an enormous geographic area and for a lot of its audiences, act as their first introduction into the dance world. The company also gives, like all the companies apart from the national one, classes and performances for schools. This company has a repertoire that can spring from the feathery divertissments of Flower Festival at Genzano to the “ dram atic” stylizations of Peter D arrell’s Prisoners. It, again like the Queensland Ballet is ham pered by having to make every performance a mixture of styles and techniques and it has been proven that such erratic backgrounds rarely engender truly creative work. It is unfair to prejudge of course, but I feel that this Dance Festival, in trying to keep its options open and its spectrum as wide as possible is in danger of being too diffuse to be any good. The Dance Company, as I have said, will be presenting a newr w'ork by Graeme Murphy, currently the great White Hope of Australian Dance. It is the only one that is offerred to chance to be totally contemporary in style and to follow its own light as to what it wants to perform, the style it is going to adopt and to choose the choreographers who are going to shape its definite, percievable future. As mentioned earlier, The Aboriginal Dance Theatre has for the first time been invited to perform at a strictly choreo graphic Festival. The work to be presented (various tribal dances from Arnemland) are going to be appraised and judged, for better or for worse on purely dance terms. In the past such things have been a token gesture, an em barrassed shrug at our native dance heritage. Therefore this appearance is quite a breakthrough for them. The Aboriginal Dance Theatre has hopes of building upon its traditional pieces and gradually getting newly choreo graphed works mounted especially for them and maybe with time finding choreographic talent within its own ranks. It has a shining example before it of what Arthur Mitchell in America fashioned out of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Basically Ballet 78 is concerned with the companies it has at hand at the moment. It is trying to find a common arena for all these different styles and performing groups within the far flung environment here in Australia. It is not trying to do any ground-breaking at the moment but rather to offer a chance for dancers et al to meet and work together, to air their gripes and to offset the danger of having individual talents working in uproductive isolation.
AUSTRALIAN BALLET Alan Brissenden The Board and M anagment of the Australian Ballet had plenty of reason to feel pleased with certain aspects of the Adelaide season in August of this year. Anne W ooliams’ new version of Swan Lake attracted full houses at the Festival Theatre and, more surprisingly, the second week’s programme, all modern works, drew audiences averaging about 1600 in the 1827 seat auditorium. This was despite reviews which were less than rapturous for the first and the presence of an original work by an Australian choreographer in the second — the num ber of subscribers had increased, but so had the num ber of casual buyers of tickets. It was clear from the opening night that the corps de ballet was dancing well, especially in the lively gaiety of Act 1 of Swan Lake and the soft romanticism of Act II. It was even more clear that Marilyn Rowe and Gary Norman in the leading roles were in need of a first rate, dramatically orientated producer to make them aware of the content of those roles, to bring them into rapport with each other and to infuse some sense of urgency into their performances. Ross Stretton and Michela Kirkaldie were in these respects much better, particularly Stretton, who even managed to do something with the closing scenes in which the action just fades away, as if Miss Woolliams had had enough of it all halfway through the fourth act and leapt for the ending without enough explanatory steps in between. Kirkaldie is not yet completely enough equipped technically to explore the intricacies of this most difficult of classical ballerina roles, fine dancer though she is. Christine Walsh tackled it with an engaging softness which was right for Odette, b ut which she could not convert strongly enough into the hardness and guile needed for Act III — a fledgling Swan Princess, trying her wings, ably supported by a young Siegfried in Craig Sterling. On these performances, it appears that the company does not now have a ballerina of sufficient dram atic and technical accomplishment to present Odette-Odile satisfactorily. This despite the fact th at in her debut last year, when partnered by Kelvin Coe, Marilyn Rowe gave a perform ance th at was as remarkable for its delicacy in the white acts as it was stunning for its brilliance in Act III. As well, in several other aspects, however small, the production has lapsed. The chandeliers in Act III were hanging crookedly, there were wrinkles in the backcloth, the men needed a lesson in how to wear their gorgeous Renaissance clothes, and too often the dram atic attention of the corps de ballet was scattered instead of being focused on the action. Programm e II showed the Kylian’s
Symphony in D is a lasting success, neat, amusing and just right for the zippy classicism that the young dancers of the company can handle well. Falco’s Caravan doesn’t wear so happily; despite Ross Stretton’s zany and lissome performance in the leading role, the ballet is too long and the finish too diffuse. Robbins’s Afternoon o f the Fawn had an excellent performance of cool sophistication by Rowe and Norman, soft romanticism by Jones and Burch and too much detach ment by Kirkaldie and Sterling. And the one original work for the whole 1978 season — Graeme Murphy’s Tekton: as the revised version of Poppy has shown, Murphy is a choreographer who needs to be continually working on his ballets while they are in performance. Even though the Australian Ballet flew him to Adelaide for two days’ rehearsal before it went on, Tekton is still, as it was at its premiere in Sydney, a rather muddled work, with too little clear direction of thought and too much aimless running around. It was as if the choreographer, given so many people to use, felt he had to do something, anything, with them, but hadn’t worked out just what. The most exciting Aust ralian choreographer at present, Murphy was nevertheless not the right choice for the Australian Ballet this year. (Jacquie Carroll’s Lotos-Eaters for the Australian Dance Theatre is far more satisfying than Tekton, more thoroughly thought out, more economical, more complete.) Not that Tekton is an utter failure; the choreography for the two leading couples particularly is characteristically interesting and inventive, and received fine perform ances. But with just one work in a whole year, where is the encouragement to the development of dance in Australia that there should be? Just one work in a whole year which includes revivals of Fille M ai Gardee, and Coppelia and a blockbuster Spartacus by a visiting choreographer — an appalling record for the national company. It is bad for the audiences, bad for the dancers, who are getting no infusion of creative ideas, and bad for the state of dance in the country as a whole. In his report for 1974, the company Administrator, Peter Bahen, remarked, ‘It is essential that new and experimental works should be introduced from time to time. Like oysters or asparagus these may need an acquired taste. But it is up to us to see that the public is given a chance to acquire this taste as painlessly as possible. Otherwise we would be falling down on our job’. Four years later he had changed his view, saying that the dancers are classically trained, that the public has shown ‘a marked preference for the traditional classical and romantic story ballets’. He went on, ‘We cannot afford to disregard their wishes. This does not mean that we have constantly to repeat ourselves and concentrate only on 19th century works. Certain contemporary pieces based on the classical technique, such as Onegin or Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Widow and The Display, and indeed such m aster pieces as Glen Tetley’s Gemini and John Butler’s Threshold, both based on a “ free” technique will always be part of our
Marilyn Rowe (Odette) and Gary Norman (Siegfried) in AB’s Swan Lake repertoire. But whether we should also be doing the way-out type of modem experi mental work (sometimes consisting of obscure plot, cacophonous music, contor tions and writhings) seems more and more questionable. Particularly as, in recent years, a num ber of developing State dance groups who employ modern techniques such as those of M artha G raham and Merce Cunningham have been catering for audiences with a taste for the avant-garde. We should not try to compete, for instance, with the Australian Dance Theatre in Melbourne and Adelaide or with the Dance Company of New South Wales. But it is absurd to think of the Australian Ballet with its 63 regular and six guest artists, ‘competing’ with either
the Dance Company NSW or the A ust ralian Dance Theatre, §ach of which has fewer than 20 dancers. The Australian Ballet is the one national touring company, the only one to be seen in all States and abroad. It must accept its responsibility to develop ballet in all its aspects, to inform instead of merely indulging the current taste of its audience, and to fulfil the obligations of its subsidy to advance the art which it serves. The new Artistic Director has a signif icant and challenging task, and must be supported in a forward looking policy by the Board and Administration if the company is once more to succeed artist ically as well as financially. Alan Brissenden is dance critic of the Adelaide Advertiser. T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
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T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM BE R 1978
Alan Brissenden The revitalized Australian Dance Theatre celebrated its first anniversay with a two week season in June at the Festival Centre’s Playhouse, the best theatre in Adelaide to see this company. And, before the end of the fortnight, audiences had begun to build in a way which showed that these dancers were at last gaining the attention and understanding that their achievement demands. They made their first appearance in May 1977 at the children’s festival, ‘Come O ut’, with a lively presentation of dance history, The Rise to Fame o f Vaslav Smith, which is now a regular part of their programme for schools. But their real debut was at the Opera Theatre in June, with an ambitious season of three prog rammes, the repertoire completely English — ten new and reproduced works by the Artistic Director, Jonathan Taylor, and his chief assistants, Joseph Scoglio and Julia Blaikie, and two by other former Ballet Rambert colleagues Christoper Bruce and Norman Morrice. There was no doubt in the minds of anyone seeing them then that the new company was already technically polished, well-groomed and intelligently able to express the content as well as the form of the works they were presenting, but audiences were thin. After appearing with the other Aust ralian companies in Ballet '77 in Can berra, the Australian Dance Theatre toured country districts in Victoria and South Australia — it is funded jointly by both states — and made its Melbourne debut in October, distinguished by Jon athan Taylor’s new Australian work Bull Creek. Developing his intention to en courage local choreography, in November Taylor mounted a workshop season of seven new ballets in the Space, which produced an outstanding work by Jacqui Carroll, which should go into the reper toire, a successful comic ballet by Julia Cotton and a fast moving, lightweight piece by the visiting American Sara Sugihara. Only one of the seven, Tony Strachan’s pretentious expression of Aust ralian attitudes to women, was a failure. Cheryl Stock’s experiment with electronic sounds created by the dancers as they moved on wired platforms was interesting rather than effective, but Pamela Buckman’s solo for Joe Scoglio showed a choreographer in the making. The deve lopment of choreographers within the company will be slow and mistakes must be allowed to be made, but this season was a fine start. Jonathan Taylor’s dances for Tippett’s M idsum m er Marriage at the Adelaide Festival in March this year were a dazzling highlight of the opera, even though they did not bring out clearly enough the female predatory quality called for in the sexual relationship represented. The
dances will unfortunately never be repeat ed because they were choreographed for a particular stage setting — a setting extremely dangerous to dance on, com posed as it was of a series of tilted circular ramps, covered with hessian, rising from a highly-polished, slippery stage floor. Taylor in his choreography and the dancers in their performance coped so superbly with these extremes that one reviewer of the opera declared that the set was obviously designed for them. (It was not: two of the dancers had injuries during the brief season.) The company’s own Festival season was a disappointm ent, as William Shoubridge has already noticed in an earlier Theatre Australia, and Taylor himself admits to some regret, while pointing out that people he would like to get from America, such as Glen Tetley, Eliot Feld or Twyla Tharp, are all very busy and very expensive. Next year Christopher Bruce is coming to produce one of his current works, Black Angels, and choreograph another on the company. Bruce’s W eekend and Wings are already among the most durable of the company’s repertoire, and it was especially good to see Wings again in the recent Playhouse season. Its images of flight, its transm uting of relationships by putting them into an avian instead of a hum an mode, have an effect which is both disquieting and reassuring. It reaches into the deeper recesses of consciousness in the way that great art and music do. The other repertoire works in the two programmes were Flibbertigibbet, enrich ed with more matter, and even better than before, Bull Creek, given for the first time in Adelaide and, in retrospect, satisfactory rather than stunning, S ta r’s End, not seen since Ballet Victoria’s final tour, and Listen to the Music, a macabre, really funny work which has gained with increased performance. The value of building the repertoire and nurturing the company as an ensemble is becoming very clear. New in the first programme was Womb Walk, Julia Blaikie’s second work for the company, which has been included in the Melbourne season ending on 2 September. The music, The Body, is by Ron Geesin and Roger W alters, of Pink Floyd, but the ballet begins with the sound of a body being dragged along a floor. A heavily pregnant young woman and her husband are on stage and are gently assailed by a group of characters (called the ‘Jumblies’ by the choreographer) who represent the spiritual, outer regions of the couple’s emotions and memories. The woman is taken away then returns, having had her child: the man becomes absorbed in himself, so that there is a separation between them. The image of isolation develops as the man is enfolded in a silk cloth by three others and then bundled up on a table towards the back of the stage. The woman is now surrounded by her own feelings and ideas, but she is reunited with the man again and they are taken by the six other dancers who sit them down on a comfy lounge in front of the telly, give them cups of tea and go off. Surprisingly and amusingly the television set blows up. Left to themselves — their memories,
Julia Blaikie, John Nobbs in ADT’s Lotos Eaters Photo: David Simmonds
John Nobbs in ADT’s Womb Walk Photo: David Simmonds
after its M elbourne season the company went on to Albury, Shepparton and Bendigo. It would seem that the country is being more perceptive than the city in its appreciation, but word is gradually reach ing those who enjoy dance and they are discovering th at the Australian Dance Theatre really is good. After dancing in Brisbane for the first time and giving a Young Choreographers’ season at its own
Balcony Theatre in Adelaide the company joins everybody else at the Sydney Opera House for Ballet ’78 before returning to Melbourne for a season at the National Theatre, 13-25 November, this time a workshop programme. But don’t be fooled — the Adelaide ‘W orkshop’ season at the Space last year was a full professional performance of new works, and all but one of them was worth presenting, and worth seeing. T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
AUSTRALIAN DANCE THEATRE — FIRST YEAR
emotions and other selves outside the room — they turn to each other and kiss. In developing her theme of hum an relationships Julia Blaikie spends too much time on arranging movement for its own sake and not enough on refining the expression of her ideas through the movement. The ballet has been shortened since its first performance, however, and the images may have become more sharply defined, but it is still rather fluffy and undeniably lightweight. Michael Pearce’s pastel costumes and scrim walls, which finally drop down to separate the couple’s reality from their non-material selves, are in tune with the gentle air of the work as a whole. There is more intellectual toughness in The Lotos Eaters, Jacqui Carroll’s new work, choreographed to early Webern music (four of the ‘Five Movements for String Orchestra, Op 5’; ‘Passacaglia, Op 1’ and Nos 3 and 4 of the ‘Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op 6’), which had its prem iere on 27 June. It begins with six dancers lying apart from one another on a darkened stage, curled around coils of rope which ascend to the flies. A man and a woman, separate from the group, gradually bestir themselves and dance together, langourously, emotionally almost passive. The ropes are drawn up so that they dangle, just more than head high. The others emerge from their torpor one by one and relationships seem to begin to form. The men swing the girls on the ropes, gently. Passions almost rise, but never to more than smouldering point, conflicts develop, but fail to reach a climax. The principal pair are left alone on the stage. The man clowns, hanging upside down on the rope. The others return, the conflicts are renewed but suddenly the ropes fall with an ominous rattle and the dancers are left almost, it seems, unsupported. They sink to the ground again. This satisfying and haunting ballet, which Melbourne may have to wait until January 1979 to see, is performed with sen sitivity and extraordinary control by a group led by John Nobbs and Julia Blaikie. The choreographer, responding with great delicacy to the music, plays the dancers and the audience like a taut string of elastic, now tightening, now relaxed, using a range of movements which blend into one another so subtly that the patterns seem continuously evolving, yet each section being allowed to be complete in itself. Like Wings, The Lotos Eaters is a work which will become richer in its evocations with succeeding performances. Between its Adelaide and Melbourne seasons, the Australian Dance Theatre had the most successful country tour by a dance group in South Australia and Western Victoria in recent years, perhaps ever. In South Australia the sponsoring Arts Council was delighted with the average attendance of 348; the five towns visited were Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Broken Hill (NSW(, Loxton and Millicent. At M ildura, in northwest Victoria, people had to be turned away and two perform ances are planned there on the next tour: Portland, Robinvale and Horsham were the other Victorian centres visited and
International THE NEW YORK CITY BALLET
He is in fact a principal, not a corps member. But when it comes to that miracle of team work and group precision, Agon, he must bend his talent along with the rest, bury personal magnetism and become a glass through which the glory of the movement becomes param ount. “ I am thirty now so there are a few years left” , said Barishnikov, when he first New York, it would seem, has these days announced that he would be joining gone dance mad. There are now over five NYCB, “ I had the same (Leningrad Kirov) thousand disquotheques in th’s city from training that Balanchine himself had, I the plush, Lanvin-scented glossiness of just want to dance the great works that Mr Studio 54 and Regine’s to the scruffy little B has created” . lofts in Soho or up in the Upper West Side. There is also the hope that Mr B will The Turning Point is one of the highest create great new works on him, but here grossing films in the city (along with the doomwatchers say Kirov training is Saturday Night Fever) and two of the one thing, but M r B has changed the face highest grossing shows on Broadway are A of dance, in America at least. When you Chorus Line (still) and Bob Fosse’s new think of American dance, slick, speedy show Dancin ’ (of which more later). and cool, you are thinking of Balanchine Just peruse some of the daily listings at dance. the Ticketron outlets (you can’t scan the Still others say that Mr B’s creative fires papers of course at the moment) and on are practically out, there hasn’t been a real any one day there are over thirty different masterpiece since the 1973 Stravinsky dance performances you can attend. There Festival Violin Concerto. Anyway, they go is always an overseas ballet company on with malevolent glee, ballet for Mr B ensconced somewhere; from the Royal has always been woman. Female dancers Ballet at the Metropolitan to the Ballet of have always got the best parts in a the 20th century at the Felt Forum. There Balanchine work, they are the ones that are small “experimental” one m an/one shine in Jewels, that get the best dancing in woman shows at those self same Soho and Scotch Symphony, Stars and Stripes and Upper West Side lofts and Dance Brahms Schoenberg Quartet. Umbrella Festivals in Central Park. The fact is that every dancer in a And there, as always, right in the middle Balanchine ballet gets to “ star” some of it all at Lincoln Centre is the resident where, but the real star is the choreo crown in the jewellery, the New York City graphy and no change of personnel will Ballet. It has been there so long that many alter that. In the past, great dancers have people began to take it for granted and a died and their parts have died with them, few years ago the NYCB was passing a that will never happen with Balanchine crisis with musicians strikes and falling choreography. Just to watch performances subscriptions. Now that has changed for one week with this company is to (except for the strikes), the black m arket is realise the enormous compass of Balan having a field day in tickets to the New chine’s addition to the art of dance. York City Ballet there is a constant queue I saw Peter M artins in Apollo (created in at the State Theatre box office and why? 1924) and wondered at the severe classical Because the NYCB has a “ Staff D ancer” grace as I always do, but noted the serene one of the greatest male dancers in the nobility that M artins brought to it. He is world today and one of the stars of The every inch the God of the Muses and is Turning Point, Mikhail Barishnikov. especially endearing with Kay Mazzo as NYCB audiences these days are stran Terpsichore who gently and chidingly gely divided. There are those who have instructs him in the forms of Godhood. stuck with the company for years, knowing To see M artins and Suzzanne Farrel it to be one of the best in the world, and together in Chaconne, (Balanchine’s ballet there are those people, the uproarious to the dance music from Gluck’s Orpheus renegades from the American Ballet and Euridice) is again to revel in the cool Theatre, who have transferred their affec crystalline flow of music made visible; tions to the City company and are there to indeed to almost see the dance spon swoon when Barishnikov makes even the taneously conjure the ethereal harmonies slightest flick of his hand in the back row of G luck’s masterpiece as the only of the cast of say, Symphony in C. These accompaniment possible. swooners are outraged at the fact that The work opens with the corps at the Barishnikov is in the self same back row of back of the stage going through slow, Symphony in C; his place is on an empty heavy, mournful movements as if from a stage alone they will tell you, not scaling frieze. Then Orpheus steps among them, down his talents to fit in with much lesser yet never connects; totally alone in the loss dancers. But this is what Barishnikov of his beloved. The chorus departs and to expected when he first joined the company the exquisite flute solo Euridice (Farrell) (along with tendonitis), it was not expected, enters, and arches out to touch Orpheus as ever, that he shine alone. The thing that if across a precipice. His glance is always comes first at NYCB is the NYCB and the downcast, and he leads her into a series of NYCB is the choreography of George windblown lifts without actually looking at Balanchine (and Jerome Robbins). her. She slides and sinks alongside and The fact is however that Barishnikov is around him as if she were a ghost and then such a great talent that he can’t be in the departs. He walks about the stage as back row long, already he dances the lead though abandoned in an empty universe. part of Franz in Coppelia and is learning a T hat’s it — and it takes your breath part in Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering. away.
T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
M artins later dancing Franz in the Balanchine/Danilova Coppelia (she also appeared in The Turning Point as the testy Russian ballet teacher) brought to the role a rough, pleasant humour, making this lad look like some happy but thick dolt. Barishnikov later dancing the same part played him as a scamp, always underfoot, but something of a coltish lady killer, dazzling in his dancing and winsome in his character. He seemed quite at ease here, but story ballets are what he is used to. Seeing him later with Bart Cook and Victor Castelli in Mr B’s Kam m ermusic No 2 (to H indem ith music) and in the Four Temperaments one was aware of the enormous concentration he was pouring into trying to m aster the style. The speed of Kam m erm usic got to him and in places he was even a couple of beats behind, but that is because of his training. Kirov training allows a dancer time to regain centre and prepare for the next phrase, Kam m erm usic especially allows none of that. It’s a superhyped athletic piece this ballet, a dancer comes out of a double cabriole and the straight into a glissade across the stage or a sky high jete; its all done on the ball of the foot, no wonder the m an’s got tendonitis. Same goes for Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina. The speed of this homage to a Queen with the ballet music from, I think, Don Carlos, is phenomenal. There are times when Ashley’s foot work, steel hard and electric becomes a blur, times when you’re sure she’ll spin right off the stage from the momentum of her piroeuettes. She’s the latest wunderkind of the NYCB, taking over from where Gelsey K irkland (now with the ABT) left off, and she, as far as is possible, is a star. But everywhere there are stars, as I said, like Helgi Tomasson and Karin Aroldingen in the rubies section from Jewels both of them so tense and dram atic and well, fiery. O r there’s Jean Pierre Bonnefous and Patricia McBride in Robbins’ Concerto in G (Ravel), especially in the chic, liquid flowerings of the adagio and the bluesy, cute fireworks of the opening movement. And then there is Dances at a Gathering just by itself, one of the most miraculous ballets ever created. Nothing but an open sky, a pianist in the corner of the stage and ten dancers meeting at a place for the soul purpose of dancing, getting to know each other and presenting vignettes of them selves and their “ relationships” in the most tantalising manner. Balanchine once said, “ th at to dance is to make love in the most elegant and beautiful way possible and seeing Dances is to realise this. We the audience know nothing about these people when the work starts, but as the Chopin music unfolds so do these ever so real people and their experiences. The audience works hard creating the stories (whatever they may be), but they do so willingly. Would that this work could become p art of our experience here in Australia. After nights with the NYCB the rest of New York seemed paltry. Annie was a load of simpering rubbish, O f the Twentieth Century lumbered along on its trendy, piss-elegant way, Ain t Misbehavin ' was a
DANCE SPECIAL Dance all the way from balletic pageantry (not very well done), right through courtship tangos and disco jive. A high spirited show, a happy antidote to the heavy message of A Chorus Line. I left New York elated but tired with the
pizzaz of the place and headed off to Europe (Germany) to see Bejart’s com pany, The H am burg Ballet and Chereau’s production of W agner’s Ring at the Bayreuth Festival, but that will all have to wait till next month.
I H L A T R L A U ST R A L IA N O V LM B L R 1978
THE NEW YORK CITY BALLET — CROWNING GLORY
lusty toe-tapper but th at’s about all. Best nights after this was one with a bar pianist in a cafe just down from Z abar’s world famous delicatessen and oh yes, Bob Fosse’s Dancin W hat a show, what energy, one is drained just watching it!
Problem month for AO: Seymour and UNSW successes After the long string of early season triumphs reported previously in these columns, it was possibly only to be expected that the Australian Opera would falter a little during September — and so it did. No new productions were premiered during the month, only revivals of La Boheme and that old warhorse of a double bill, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Neither opening night was anything like an unequivocal success; and things, in the case of La Boheme at least, were destined to get a good deal worse before they got better. This year’s AO Mimi, Leona Mitchell, copped an unwarranted share of the blame in some critical quarters for the failure of this series of Bohemes to succeed dramatically at opening. No doubt her performance improved as the production settled in, along with everyone else’s; but she was far from solely responsible for the shortcomings of the first night. Fqt much of the evening her Rodolfo, Lamberto Furlan, seemed more interested in what was going on in the third row of the dress circle than in her failing health which must be, after all, a focal point of any thoroughly successful Boheme. The
horseplay among the bohemians, a vital foil to the serious side of the piece, barely convinced in the first act and not at all in Act IV, where it is even more important dramatically. Things were not helped by the fact that Alan Light’s Alcindoro was not in good voice, an indisposition which clearly muted Etela Piha’s Musetta. Before I returned to a matinee of La Boheme on September 23, both Furlan and the scheduled Marcello for the entire season, John Pringle, had been temporarily floored by illness. Pringle was recovered by the matinee, as was Light; and Anson Austin, finished by this stage with his thoroughly successful series of Alfredos in La Traviata, was playing Rodolfo to great effect. He still has some way to go before he could be deemed a thoroughly relaxed actor, but he was certainly conveying the impression on this occasion that he cared about Mimi; and he was relating to the other bohemians; and he was singing very well indeed. This year’s conductor, Mark Elder, clearly did not have enough rehearsal time before opening to get Boheme to the level of excellence he would have liked, and there were musical flaws
Etela Piha (Musettal in the AO’s La Boheme. 52
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then which had been ironed out thoroughly by my second visit. It is to be hoped this talented young Englishman, who cut his opera conducting teeth in Australia a few years ago as a protege of Edward Downes, can be attracted back to Australia regularly over the next few years, for there is no doubt he is an extremely positive influence on the standards of the Australian Opera. The revivals of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, under the direction of Bernd Benthaak were plagued by illness and uncertainty in the rehearsal period, particularly in the tenor department where Robin Donald and his father, Donald Smith, were scheduled to share the limelight. Donald did sing at a special pre-premiere performance, but was struck down between then and the official first night, forcing Reginald Byers to fill in on very short notice the night after filling in for Lamberto Furlan as Rodolfo in La Boheme. One must sympathise with him for having to perform two such major roles on consecutive nights when he had not been scheduled to sing either this year, and in the event he only managed to get through them with
Photo: William Moseley
extensive assistance from the prompter. Even allowing for that, though, the lack of dramatic tension between Byers’ Turiddu and his Santuzza, Elizabeth Fretwell, was monumental. Both made some nice sounds, but never did the melodrama of the piece approach the gripping level which it must if this opera is to succeed as theatre. Indeed, this performance lingers in my mind mostly for the excellent Alfio of Neville Wilkie, who sang very well indeed and came up with the most convincing acting performance I have yet seen from him. He has been mostly languishing in the chorus since leaving the Queensland Opera Company to join the AO, and certainly made much of this opportunity. The Pagliacci was infinitely more successful all round than the first half of this double bill. Donald Smith, despite one or two worrying sounds early in the piece, proved to be in fine vocal form overall and as thoroughly convincing dramatically as ever in what is unarguably one of his best roles. The old thrilling Smith sound has lost none of its impact during his recent period of semi-retirement, and it is to be hoped we will be seeing more of him on stage in the next couple of years than we did in the last couple. In this regard, it is welcome to note that he is scheduled to sing both Dick Johnson in Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West and Florestan in Fidelio with the national company next year. John Shaw was in excellent form also as Tonio on the opening night of Pagliacci, but its overall interest and success were particularly enhanced by Etela Piha’s Nedda. Hers is not a large or sumptuous or particularly beautiful voice; but it is accurate and not unpleasing, and she is an excellent actress. This has always made her Musetta in La Boheme a pleasing contrast to Mimi’s voluptuous sounds, and — though she is the only female of importance in Pagliacci — suits the part of Nedda as well. In particular, the denouement had more impact than in any other production of this piece I have seen because of the explicit way in which Piha conveyed fear of Canio’s rising passion at an earlier stage of the play within the opera. Smith, of course, is himself marvellous at portraying the barely controlled mounting hysteria of Canio through an alternation of sudden violent movements and seething explosive barely controlled gestures. Unlike most Neddas I have seen, Piha appeared to be legitimately scared to death at her husband’s state of mind; composed herself tellingly for the few bars just before her demise where she consciously attempts to divert Canio by stepping aggressively back into her pretend role. Paul Ferris was also an interesting newcomer to the secondary role of Beppe/Harlequin. Carlo Felice Cillario, to whose lot it has fallen to conduct more than a fair share of the AO’s more sickness-ridden performances during the past few years, persevered with utmost unflappability through Cav and was able to follow with a stellar reading of Pag. There were some nice new details in director
Donald Smith (Canio) in the AO’s Pagliacci. Photo: William Moseley. Bernd Benthaak’s handling of the crowds in Cav: the children, devout girls and rascally boys, in particular. Pag too was different in detail though not spectacularly originally so. Desmond Digby’s 1972 designs for both productions continue to wear very well indeed, proving themselves thoroughly adaptable to any directorial interpretation that may be superimposed on them. Benthaak was also director of the brief series of performances of Verdi’s Luisa Miller presented by Roger Covell’s University of New South Wales Opera early in October. By and large, John Roberts’ designs were good, though one could perhaps have done without the superfluous cross on stage right and hoped for more explicit visual recognition of the castle/ peasant dichotomy that is so vital to the dramatic structure of the piece. The set was ingenious in the way it unfolded to reveal the interior of Miller’s cottage; intriguingly semi abstract for the decorative circles and vertical pipework that framed the performing area; a little confusing for the upstage shield that dominated the action throughout, apparently intended to symbolise the aristocratic father of the male romantic lead and Miller in turn, but not altered consistently enough to coincide with the demands of the moment. The vocal and acting honors of this production were shared by Lyall Beven as Miller and Beverley Bergen as Luisa. I had not previously encountered Beven, and found his stage presence absolutely oozing the integrity the role demands; as well, he radiated the fullthroated baritone warmth that characterises so many Verdi fathers. I also enjoyed Bergen’s Luisa for the same reason: vocally, she was in fine form, dramatically unfaltering in her portrayal of the conflict of filial obeisance and love for her chosen man. Less successful was John Main’s Rodolfo, which was markedly thin of vocal sound and stiffer of dramatic manner than one would have liked. Neal Easton’s Wurm was realised
excellently in its overall parameters, but could have done with a little more explicit selfassurance and vocal power. Penelope Bruce’s Duchess Federica was excellent, both vocally and dramatically. Rhys Daniell’s Count Walter lacked the stature necessary to contrast effectively with Beven’s Miller. Roger Covell’s musical direction was less visually flamboyant than it has been sometimes in the past, but the results — aided by his usual talented contingent of Sydney Symphony Orchestra and ex-SSO players in the wind departments — were musically most stimulating. Perhaps the ultimate accolade that can be paid to such an intrinsically shoestring budget performance of a relatively little known work by a great composer is that it can display the merit of the piece so clearly as to prompt wonder at its neglect by performing companies with greater resources; and this Luisa Miller did just that. Benthaak’s production, while in general excellent, worried me here and there for an excessive tendency to require actions to beat time to the music, and for permitting the scenes set in Miller’s cottage to overflow their logical visual parameters by spilling over into the no man’s land of the central stage area. Finally, brief mention must be made of that rapidly rising star of Sydney’s musical firmament, the Seymour Group, for its realisation of Stravinsky’s The Soldier's Tale late in September. This was only the last part of a triple bill featuring also a new piece by Alison Bauld and the concert debut of Carl Vine’s music for Graeme Murphy’s highly successful dance piece, Poppy, which was performed so memorably by the NSW Dance Company earlier this year. Though some attempts were made to make the opening two-thirds of this programme into legitimate music theatre, and the Pitt Street Congregational Church is a marvellously evocative venue, the Bauld piece never really took off and the Poppy suite clearly needs tightening up and perhaps reorganisation if it is ever to win a legitimate place for itself out of its original fully danced context. Blessed by a superlative interpreter of the spoken text, Natalie Bate, and a couple of fine instrumental soloists, notably Jill Pereira on the vitally important violin, the Soldier's Tale which formed the final third of this program was well worth waiting through the other two. It did not bother me for a moment that Bate, a female, was entrusted with portraying the soldier and the devil and the narrator — all of whom might quite properly be assumed to be male. Apart altogether from considerations related to male chauvinist piggery, she was such a superlative performer as to transcend any considerations of mere sex. There were admittedly flaws, some rather blatant, in the instrumental backing, but at no stage was the performance result, under the direction of Vincent Plush, less than acceptable. Its overall impact was memorable. T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V E M B E R 1978
The Last Tasmanian — an extraordinarily interesting and moving film
Tasmanian aborigines as seen by the French expedition which visited Tasmania in 1802. Many people will have expected Tom Haydon’s film, The Last Tasmanian, to be found on the nation’s television screens rather than in the commercial cinema where it is now appearing. But Flaydon obviously sees it as a film rather than a television documentary, and it is slowly making its way around Australia, from West End in Hobart to the Longford in Melbourne to the Opera House Music Room in Sydney, and so on. It is a film which, if it becomes a popular success, will have depended on word of mouth support rather than advertising hype. Even if Artis Productions, which made it, could have afforded the big splash, such a splash would have been quite unsuitable to the subject. The subject. Well, as the title does somewhat more than hint, the film is about a dark period in the history of the colony when the curious stone age people of Tasmania were at the mercy of sealers and convicts and soldiers and settlers and bureaucrats with the result that they disappeared off the face of the earth. The author of the last round-up was the egregious George Augustus Robinson, called the Conciliator, appointed to settle differences between the European residents of Tasmania — which was even wilder and rockier and more cut-off than it is now — and the Aborigines. Robinson was a do-gooder; he was the son of a bricklayer, a non conformist lay preacher from the east end of London, raised above his station (as how many public servants since) by circumstance. He thought it his duty to Christ ianise and educate the three hundred natives 54
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who were left of the four thousand or so who had been around thirty years earlier. He settled them on Flinders Island, for their own good, gave them new names and left them there till 1847, when only forty four survived. These forty four were transferred to Oyster Cove, near Hobart. They died off, in miserable circumstances and in 1869 there was only one, Truganini. Seven years later she too was dead. Truganini’s life is well documented, and Haydon’s film is not really about her. It is about what happens to weak people who get in .the way of strong people and it is also about the long painful meticulous search in which a WelshAustralian archeologist and pre-historian, thirty six years old Dr Rhys Jones, with his colleague Jim Allen, found out about the mysterious Aborigines of Tasmania, their way of life and the probable reasons for the fact that their evolution had become “fixed" several thousand years behind that of the mainland Aborigines. Rhys Jones and Haydon. with Artis money and contributions from the Tasmanian Film Corporation, the Australian Film Commission, the BBC, the French government and a French production organisation, not to mention Cadbury-Schweppes, put together an extra ordinarily interesting and moving film, without actors (although Rhys Jones can make quite an histrionic effect by simply walking towards a midden on the coast) but rather with a com bination of landscape, old drawings and photographs and much appalling historical data, offered without sensational flourish.
Drawing by Petit and Lesueur, The Tasmanian Aborigines had originally had a rather nice relationship with foreigners. In 1802 Napoleon sent an expedition to explore and perhaps lay claim to the territory, in the mood of conquest. A doctor and naturalist named Francois Peron filled his diary with descriptions of the blacks, and collected 100,000 animal specimens (among them 2,500 hitherto unknown species). An artist, Nicholas-Martin Petit, made pen and ink portraits of the Aborigines and the animals. These drawings are wonderfully attractive. The blacks are not depicted as really black, but cocoa-brown, with long graceful limbs, woolly hair, and slanting eyes which hold a glint of a smile. There is often a sly expression on their large mouths upturned at the corners. They wore no clothes. The Last Tasmanian was made in English, French and Welsh, the last an amiable eccentricity of Rhys Jones, who speaks the language. Artis Productions had to take this on trust, as nobody was able to check what he was saying. It had a world premiere on the BBC in prime time last June and has been sold in the US, Canada, France, the Scandinavian countries, eastern Europe and Yugoslavia. Tom Haydon’s kind of film-making — The Talgai Skull, Dig a Million, Make a Million, Beyond the Black Stump — is minus picturesque or cosy appeal, and his name is by no means familiar to his countrymen. Or wasn’t, until now.
Rozamund Waring Film Australia Interpreting Australia At Home and Everywhere THE FILM M AK ER S Film Australia is the production arm of the Australian Film Commission and operates from studios at Lindfield near Sydney. Its films tell Australians about themselves, the world about Australia and Australia about the world. The studio complex contains editing rooms, sound stage, theatres, dubbing suites and has a staff of over 130. It is capable of film production of considerable magnitude. Outside film production units, writers, directors, composers and technicians are regularly engaged to augment the organisation’s capacity. The resultant output averages sixty films a year, varying widely in length, style and subject from features for cinema and television through documentary to short instructional films. About twenty-five audio visual programs are also produced each year. Film Australia’s productions have won a great number of prizes and citations in international competition. In 1977, an animated film, Leisure, government-department sponsored, gained a Hollywood Academy Award. Between July 1977 and June 1978 eighteen international and nine Australian awards were won. In August of this year a Film Australia production the Growing Up series took the major prize in the documentary category of the 1978 Australian Film Awards. A number of these films were governmentdepartment sponsored and are an important part of Film Australia’s on-going program. They can include programs on administration and training, road safety, Aboriginal affairs, social and health services, drug abuse, immigration, environment, management and defence subjects. In addition, with funds voted annually by Parliament, Film Australia produces its own National Program on far-ranging subjects relevant to Australian life which include history, education, microscopy, fauna and flora, tourism, sport, music, art, sociology, environment, ethnography and archival filming.
ASIA N NEIGHBOURS Over the past eight years, Film Australia has produced a series of films on Asia as part of its National Program to acquaint Australians with the life-styles of her near neighbours. The Asian Neighbours series includes films on Indonesia, Thailand and India. It has been widely acclaimed for its capacity — without editorialising — to give an understanding of the subleties of different cultures. By attention to detail based on careful research, the films have an inner truth which enables audiences to make up their own minds about what they are seeing.
FILM AU STRALIA IN CHINA China is now to be part of the Asian
Director of Film Australia’s China series, Bob Kingsbury. Neighbours series. A Film Australia team, headed by director Bob Kingsbury, is currently making one of the most comprehensive group of human interest films ever attempted in China. The team has been given the opportunity to cover in depth and variety aspects of China hitherto unseen by both Western and Chinese audiences. Preparation for Film Australia’s China project included the producer, Suzanne Baker, studying the Chinese language for two years and many months of research by herself and director Bob Kingsbury before they visited China earlier this year. Film Australia asked to be allowed to film each subject in a different area in order to give an idea of the variety of China’s landscape. This request was substantially met. Five of the films are approximately twenty-seven minutes long with a sixth, a language teaching film, ten minutes.
THE RU SSIANS In 1977, with the unprecedented cooperation of the Soviet State Committee for RadioandTelevision, Film Australia made The Russians on locations throughout the Soviet Union. This is a series of three documentary feature length films for television release. The purpose of these films is to answer the simple question: How do the ordinary Russians live? The first film deals with the life of people living in cities. The second with rural life and life in the New Frontier, Siberia. The third deals with three important people — the people who exert great influence on ordinary Russians: the director of a coal mine in the Don Basin, the secretary of the Communist Party of a gravel-washing enterprise in Siberia and the Trade Union Chairman of a refrigerator factory in Minsk. The Russians was produced by Tom Manefield and John Abbott and directed by Arch Nicholson. The final part of the series takes viewers out of the cities for a remarkable no-holds-barred look at one of the most sensitive and controversial aspects of Soviet Society-life on the Collective Farm.
NO TABLE PRODUCTIONS 1977-1978 Other notable productions during 1977-1978 include the three telefeatures Cass, A Good Thing Going and Say You Want Me. These drama telefeatures were made as co-productions with the Channel 9 Network.
HOSPITALS DON’T BURN DOWN (24 minutes) Is a disturbingly realistic film about a fire in a high-rise hospital made as a training film for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It has stimulated nation-wide and overseas interest and sales, and has won awards at international festivals. It is a Film Australia production made by Kingcroft Productions Pty Ltd. THE CLAIM (83 minutes) Concerns some of the processes of industrial negotiations. In a vividly dramatic form the progress of a log of claims is followed from its inception in the work place, through its many stages of direct negotiation with the employers, or through the processes of Conciliation and Arbitration. Produced by Film Australia for Australian Trade Union Training Authority. BELONGING (89 minutes) is a film intended for students in the social sciences and intimately portrays the lives of four men in a small New South Wales country town, and their rituals of friendship and association. THE AUSTRALIAN EYE SERIES, NO I (5 films — 45 minutes) was produced in collaboration with the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales. These films examine in detail five important Australian paintings. A SMALL BODY OF STILL WATER (16 minutes) A fresh water pond, a small body of still water, looks lifeless until examined under the microscope. Dietmar Fill (director/ cameraman) by the use of microscopic photography, looks deep into a pond and produces a fascinating film on the life in and around its edge. At the 1978 Australian Cinemaphotographers’ Society Awards Dietmar Fill won the “MILLI” — Cinemaphotographer of the Year Award, and the Tripod Award in Category Two for his distinguished work on A Small Body o f Still Water.
WHERE THE FILMS GO Film Australia’s product is sold and distributed through the Marketing and Distribution Branch of the Australian Film Commission to cinemas, television, libraries, schools, universities and colleges, government departments and other interested outlets. Copies are lodged with all State and educational libraries and with the National Library. Videotapes of films are available for purchase and licences for videotape multi-copying are negotiable. World distribution is handled by representatives in New York and London and by agents in other countries. Australian diplomatic and trade missions have prints available for screening, as do many libraries throughout the world. T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
Greek for Actors Aeschylus: The Oresteian Trilogy. A Theatre Version: Rush Rehm. The Hawthorn Press, Melbourne, 1977, h ard back $10.50, paper back $4.95.
The OresteianTrilogy RUSH REHM
Yet another translation of The Oresteian Trilogy would usually only stir the arcane imaginations of classical scholars, but this Oresteia is different — from the start it was tied to the theatre. Rush Rehm ’s translation of The Oresteian Trilogy (Hawthorn 1977) is designated ‘a theatre version’ meant to be put on stage and not on a library shelf. It should interest actors and directors as much as academics. Rehm ’s translation was under taken for the Greek Theatre Project and was perform ed in M elbourne at the Pram Factory in May 1974, under the direction of James McCaughey. In his introduction Rehm, a poet and Classicist states that his aim was to produce English and English that could be acted. His method was to work closely with the director and actors (Rehm himself acted in minor roles in each of the three plays) in a spirit of ‘collective scrutiny’. Throughout the extensive rehearsal period the drafts were modified and reworked in collaboration with the actors and changes were still made during the performance period. Rehm describes the enterprise of making the translation both proper and playable as radical in its implications: ‘The translation is not only from Greek to English but from the page to theatre; the whole process bound together . . . there is no translation if the new version cannot generate or at least sustain perform ance’. To come up with a viable ‘theatre 56
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version’, Rehm began with two assum p tions. It is crucial that the three plays are experienced as distinct theatrical events: ‘Each (play) forces a new relationship with its audience and demands from us a different involvement’ and secondly the chorus or lyric is not some shuffling jury on the side, but central to the meaning and action of the work: ‘If the choruses fail the production is doomed’. Both the translator and the director vigorously and imaginatively pursued these objectives and put themselves on the line by playing the three plays straight through. The production started at 6.30 pm each evening and lasted until 11 pm with an hour break for a meal between the first and second plays. Even before comparing particular speeches from Rehm’s version of The Agam em non with other translations (Philip Vellacott, Louis Macneice) the ribs of this one are clearly pronounced. Rehm utilised the strengths of everyday language interleaved with the precision of poetic metaphor and imagery and in addition sought something that could be said and in the saying made alive. Clytemenstra’s famous speech describing the beacons which brought the news of Greek Victory home to Greece, fairly jum ps off the page as it did in the actual production. It begins with the climactic single utterance: ‘Fire!’ and bursts forth enacting the passage of the beacons in the alternating lines in which the action, like the light darts from one point to another, they are followed by lines which spread the light till it is picked up in the next line by the next beacon. CLYT: From the cliffs of the Trojan coast the glow leapt the straits and on to the island of Lemnos. There a pine burst into gold like the sun rising across the sea. And the message sped, island to island, light mirrored in the water below, as if the fire broke anchor and skimmed over the dark waves.’ But it is in the choruses that Rehm’s translation most radically departs from previous versions. He employs two quite distinct poetic styles to render the chorus and these are signalled in this edition by the use of italics. Abandoning the formal structure of metrical response that characterises Greek lyric and the literality which emphasis aphorisms and objective comment, Rehm translated the rhetorical response sections into clear blank verse and as it were set the expressive image making sections to verbal music. He was then free to weave complex internal rhythms and weight key words. Even on the page these sections look alive and moving. So in The Eumenides when Orestes calls on Apollo and Athena to defend him for the matricide of Clytemenestra, their response looks like this: CHORUS Apollo Athena their strength will not save you Damned forgotten your joy gone forever, a bloodless shadow after
we feast. Raised and fattened but not for sacrifice, you m ust feed us while you live, bound in the chains of our dance. CHORUS The binding song Come let us join our dance the singing horror that guides the lives o f men straight down the paths o f justice. Our wrath creeps over hands that are stained bearing witness fo r the dead we exact the price o f blood. M other Night M O T H E R who bore me M other Night the fledgling god. the hare steals the cowering hare O U RS consecrated by a m o th er’s blood. song of sacrifice Over the victim madness and frenzy The Furies’hymn chains on the m ind to wither men. In addition the events of the lyric are picked out and listed in the left hand margin, signalling the steps of the physical dance which accompanies the words of the lyric. Even for a reader this device clarifies the sense and direction of the chorus’ words. On the production side the layout of the text is clear and uncluttered, however the photographs by Suzanne Davies and Susan Rowlandson docum ent ing the production are tastelessly crowded into a few glossy pages and lose both their impact and relation to the text. Rehm ’s introduction is both scholarly and refresh ingly accessible and puts the translation firmly into the context of the performance that gave rise to it. The letter and spirit of Aeschylus’ original is well served by Rehm ’s translation; he elucidates the text and interprets it for live performers and modern audiences.
THE PERFORMING ARTS BOOKSHOP 232 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. 2000. Telephone: Patrick Carr  233 1658
John McCallum Culture for the people “ Few commercial managements have suffered from the financial uncertainties endured by those non-commercial ones who looked to the government or other philanthropic bodies for help. Little stales faster than yesterday’s idealism.” The chaotic financial meanderings of the Old Tote this year, and, one gathers, the Hole-In-The Wall more recently, make this a startingly topical comment. Applied to Australian theatre it could have two implications. One is obviously that the whole structure of short-term public funding is uncertain. Theatre companies have often asked for long-term financial commitment from their funding bodies, such as universities used to enjoy, to make planning easier and give it a more secure basis. W hether this would have helped the Tote is another question. The other is the more alarming thought that there is something endemically wrong
with the whole concept of a publicly subsidised theatre which attem pts to engage in expansionist commercial activ ities, as was suggested by Douglas Flintoff in these pages a few months ago. The comment above in fact comes from John Elsom and Nicholas Tomalin’s The History o f the National Theatre (Jonathon Cape, rrp, $24.80), wherein is discussed the long, tortuous history of the movement for a National Theatre in the UK. It is a book which should be read by everyone interested in theatre here. The issues of the unscrupulous use of the power of subsidy by the government and of the subsidies themselves by the theatres, of artistic freedom versus bureaucratic organisation, of the patronisation in the idea of ‘culture for the people’ have been discussed at length in England for the last 130 years. If Australians were to study the arguments it might clear a lot of dead wood in a public debate to which Mathew Arnold, Harley Granville Barker, Henry Irving, William Archer and others made valuable contributions nearly a century ago. As a brief example there is Barker and Archer’s proposal, which is still of interest. They
wanted a rent-free, untaxed company with a large guarantee fund but no further subsidy. “ If a theatre, freed from the burden of rent, etc, cannot at least clear its working expenses season by season, the probable deduction is that the management must either be culpably extravagant or con ducted on some mistaken principle. A theatre which appeals to no public or to a very narrow one, cannot be a National Theatre in any sense of the word.” There was no mention of economic growth. Also to be mentioned in this shortened review are the Directory o f Australian Music Organisations, which is a useful reference work published by the Australia Music Centre; Theatre Profiles/3 (Theatre Communications Group, NY) which is a directory of non-profit professional theatres in the US, giving statistics, a brief history and description of some 150 companies; and Russian Plays fo r Young Audiences, edited by Miriam Norton and published by New Plays, an American firm specialising in plays for children and books about theatre in education.
JO H N H O W IT T ENTERPRISES PROUDL
Y PRESENT T THE
2 6 9 PLAYHOUSE (formerly Independent Theatre)
269 MILLER STREET, NORTH SYDNEY. PHONE: 929-6804 (Theatre) 960-3680 (School)
★ ★ ★
“DON’T LET SUMMER COME” directed by Olive Bodill & Anthony Wheeler Opening November 4 for 3 weeks. “NO TIME FOR FIG LEAVES” directed by Gillian Owen. Monday 27th & Tuesday 28th November only. A CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR REVUE Directed by John Howitt. Gala opening on December 9. “BELONG ALONG ALONGA” — An original Australian children’s musical play by Rome Warren commencing January 3.
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THEATRE OPERA DANCE
A .C .T . CANBERRA THEATRE (49-7600) Canberra Opera The Magic Flute by Mozart. Director, Brian Bell; Conductor, Ayis Toannides; Designer, Quentin Hole with John Main as Tamino. November 1,3,4 Canberra Philharmonic Society The Fiddler on the Roof. November 16-18,22-25. CANBERRA YOUTH THEATRE (47-0781) The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman. Director, Joe Fleming. Nov 23-25, 30 - Dec 2. HIBISCUS THEATRE RESTAURANT (51-3131) Blue Hat Productions From Rags to Ritz or Life wasn't meant to be sleazy. With Gordon Todd, Maureen Adamson, Jill Todd, Tamara Ross, David Bates, Mark Boast and Duane Hayes. Fridays and Saturdays (continuing). THEATRE THREE (47-2222) Canberra Repertory Martello Towers by Alex Buzo. Director, Michael Lanchbery; Designer, Russell Brown. Nov 1-4, 8-11. TIVOLI THEATRE RESTAURANT (49-1411) Vaudeville Capers Fridays and Saturdays (continuing). For entries contact Marguerite Wells on 41-3192.
NEW S O U TH W A LES ACTORS COMPANY (660-2503) An Evening with Adolf Hitler by Jenifer Compton and Mathew O’Sullivan. Director, Mathew O’Sullivan. To 15 Nov. Cabaret by Masteroff, Kander and Ebb; with Anne Phelan; director, Steve Agnew. From 15 Nov. ARTS COUNCIL OF NEW SOUTH WALES (357-6611) School Tours: Bennelong Players. West metropolitan area to 17 Nov. Wayne Roland Brown, multi-instrumentalist, metropolitan area to 17 Nov. Adult Tours: Mike McClellan Show — singer, touring with Geraldine Doyle. NSW country area to 26 Nov. AUSTRALIAN THEATRE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE (699-9322) Saturday Morning Workshops — National Institute of Dramatic Art, from 10 am to 1 pm. Age limit 12 to 22, throughout Nov. AUSTRALIAN BALLET (20588) Opera Theatre La Fille mal Gardee. premiere — presented by The Australian Ballet, choreography, Frederick Ashton; music, Ferdinand Herold. 8 Nov to 28 Nov. BALLET ’78(20588) Opera Theatre. The Australian Ballet Festival Programme 1: Thursday 2 Nov 7.30 pm and Sat 4 Nov 4.30 pm. Aboriginal Dance Groups, The 58
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Australian Dance Theatre and The Queensland Ballet. Programme 2: Fri 3 Nov at 7.30 pm and Sat 4 Nov 8.30 pm, The New South Wales Dance Company, The West Australian Ballet Company and The Australian Ballet. CANBERRA OPERA The Magic Flute by Mozart. Wagga 10, 11 Nov. LES CURRIE PRESENTATIONS (358-5676) Mike Jackson, folk singer, will tour infant, primary and secondary schools in Western NSW, Riverina and South Coast districts. Throughout Nov. Modern Mime Theatre with Michael Freeland and Bob Eustace, written and devised by Michael Freeland. Touring infant and primary schools in Sydney metropolitan area. Throughout Nov. ENSEMBLE THEATRE (929-8877) Lamb o f God. by John Summons; director, Hayes Gordon. To 4 Nov. Flesh and Blood by William Hanley; director, Robin Lovejoy; with Ron Graham, Judy Ferris, Don Reid, Joanne Dawson, Maggie Platt, John Hageman. Throughout November. FRANK STRAINS BULL ’N BUSH THEATRE RESTAURANT (31-3023) Magic o f Yesterday with Noel Brophy, Keith Bowell, Julie Fullerton, Neil Bryant and Alan Norman, directed by Frank Strain, choreographed by George Carden. (Continuing). GENESIAN THEATRE (827-3023) A Woman o f no Importance, by Oscar Wilde, with Tony Hayes, Marlene Harsell and Margaret Morrison. Directed by Margaret Rieneck. Throughout November. HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE (212-3411) Dracula, director, Sir Robert Helpmann; starring John Waters. (Continuing). KIRRIBILLI PUBTHEATRE (92-1415) Kirribilli Hotel, Milsons Point. The Over the Rainbow Show by Rick Maier and Malcolm Frawley; director, Malcolm Frawley; with Paul Chubb, Laura Gabrielle, Richman Young, Susan Asquith, Steven Sacks. Throughout November. MARIAN STREET (498 3166) A Lad n his Lamp, an adult pantomime; director, Alistair Duncan; with Bunny Gibson, David Nettheim, John Fasson and Raymond du Par. (Throughout November). MARIONETTE THEATRE OF AUSTRALIA (357-1200) Music Room, Sydney Opera House: Puppets — The Complete Mask? A Bennelong Programme, presented by Richard Bradshaw. 6 and 7 Nov. MAYFAIR THEATRE (232-1377) Crown Matrimonial by Royce Ryton; with June Salter and John Hamblin; director, Peter Williams. To 11 Nov. NEW THEATRE (519 3403) Knock, Knock by Jules Feiffer; director, Fred Simms; with Betty Milliss. Throughout Nov. NIMROD THEATRE (699 5003) Upstairs: A Visit with the Family, by Greg Bunbury; director, Richard Wherrett: with Helen Morse. Robyn Nevyn, Tom Farley and Margaret Leigh. To 26 Nov.
Downstairs: Kold Komfort Kaffee with Robyn Archer and John Gaden; director, Ken Horler. OLD TOTE (663-6122) Drama Theatre: The Lady from Maxims — a George Feydeau farce. Director, Ted Craig. Throughout November. Parade Theatre: Widowers Houses, by George Bernard Shaw; director, George Ogilivy; with Peter Collingwood. Ivor Kantz, Norman Kay, Ken Hannan, Jane Harders and Annie Byron. Q THEATRE, PENRITH (047 21-5735) The Drunkard — a melodrama. Stage adaptation by William H Smith; director, Ron Hackett. Showing at Bankstown Town Hall throughout November. RIVERINA TRUCKING COMPANY (069 25-2052) John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert. Director, Willy Russell. 2-26 Nov. SEYMOUR CENTRE (692-0555) Die Fledermaus by Strauss. Presented by Touring Theatre Company. From 21 Nov. Downstairs: 5 Flights to Freedom by Alexandra Hynes. An International multi-media mime production by New South Wales Theatre of the Deaf; director, Adam Salzer; designer, Yoshi Tosa; lighting, Bangiarani. SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (20588) Exhibition Hall: The Bourdelle Sculptures and Drawings Exhibition. From the collection of the Musee Rodin, Paris. To 12 Nov. The Art o f Pierre Struys. Exhibition and sale by international Dutch artist with works from his travels to central-Asia and Siberia. 18 Nov to 7 Dec. THEATRE ROYAL (231-6111) Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn; director, Peter Williams; with Ruth Cracknell, Barry Creyton, Carmen Duncan, Kate Fitzpatrick, Ron Haddrick, Shane Porteous, Peter Rowley, and Jacki Weaver. To 25 Nov. The Human Voice — one of Cocteau's most magnificent works. Starring Liv Ullman. From 28 Nov.
Q U EEN SLA N D ARTS THEATRE (36-2344) Prisoner o f Second Avenue by Neil Simon; director, George Roberts; with Gwenneth Smith, Hugh Taylor. To 11 Nov. Norman Is That You? by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick; director, Kevin Radbourne; with John Frey, Paul Cowley, Brian Gentle, Dale Osborne. From 23 Nov. Children's Theatre: The Nutcracker devised and directed by Gordon Shaw. To 9 Nov. LA BOITE (36-1622) Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw; director, Richard Fotheringham; designer, Di Heenan. To 18 Nov. Mr Herod's Christmas Pageant by John O'Toole; director, Jennifer Blocksidge; designer, Luigi Forzin. From 24 Nov. C'AMERATA November programme yet to be decided. DARLING DOWNS IAE DD1AE Arts Theatre: Cinderella, director, Graham Byrne. 14-25 Nov.
HER MAJESTY’S (221-2777) Queensland Light Opera Co: The Belle o f New York, director, David McFarlane; with Maureen Howard, David Clendinning. To 4 Nov. Ballet Theatre: Tales o f Hoffman. 15-18 Nov. Australian Opera: Madam Butterfly. 21-25 Nov. AETT: Crown Matrimonial by Royce Ryton; director, Peter Williams; with June Salter, John Hamlyn. From 28 Nov. QUEENSLAND THEATRE COMPANY (221-3861) Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett; director, John Krummell; designer, Peter Cooke; with Wendy Blacklock, Monica Maughan, Alan Edwards, Barbara Windon, Alan Tobin. To 11 Nov. TWELFTH NIGHT THEATRE (52-5880) Mothers and Fathers by Joseph Musaphia; director, Bill Redmond; designer, Mike Bridges; with Terry Maguire, Elizabeth Alexander. To 11 Nov. Catch Me I f You Can by Robert Thomas; director, Babette Stevens; designer, James Ridewood; with Kit Taylor, David Clendining. From 20 Nov.
S O U TH A U S T R A L IA AUSTRALIAN DANCE THEATRE (212-2084) Ballet 78 Festival, Sydney Opera House 2-4 Nov. Then touring to Canberra and Melbourne. BALCONY THEATRE South Australian Creative Workshop: Blood Wedding by Lorca; director, Helen Cunningham. 2-10 Nov. LA MAMA Green Julia by Paul Ableman; director, Bob Kimber. Thur to Suns to 5 Nov. THE SPACE (51-0121) Hatrick: ACT season of New Australian plays. SA Creative Workshop: Happy as Larry by Malcolm Purcell. From 16 Nov. STATE OPERA OF SA (51-6161) The Marriage o f Figaro. On tour, Loxton 3.4 Nov. OPERA THEATRE (352-3738) Australian Opera Nabucco (Verdi) 2, 4 Nov. Yeoman o f the Guard (Gilbert & Sullivan) 1.3.4 Nov. STATE THEATRE COMPANY (51-5151) Playhouse: Cymbeline by Shakespeare; director, Colin George. 3-25 Nov.
T A S M A N IA SALAMANCA THEATRE COMPANY (23-5259) Tasmanian Theatre in Education Touring the USA until November 24. TASMANIAN PUPPET THEATRE (23-7996) Golden Nugget Show touring with Victorian Arts Council, Melbourne Schools and Victorian country district. Momma’s Little Horror Show, Canberra 1st week of November; Sydney, 2nd week November. THEATRE ROYAL (34-6266) Australian Opera Don Pasquale 2-4 Nov. One Up Theatre: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, director, Graeme Richards. 16-25 Nov. Playpen Theatre 27 Nov - 2 Dec. For entries contact the editorial office on (049)67-4470.
V IC T O R IA ALEXANDER THEATRE (543-2828) New Moon, The Heritage Theatre Co, Waverley. To 4 Nov. Once Upon A Mattress, Whitehorse Musical Theatre. 24 Nov - 2 Dec. ARENA THEATRE (24-9667) Plays in Performance: Lower Primary Sticks and Bones. Upper Primary: Yertabulti (Touring Metropolitan and Country schools). BOW-TIE — Theatre-in-education programme — Shake, Rattle and Roll. ARENA THEATRE COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES — Youth Theatre, Wednesday 58 pm. Women’s Theatre Group, Thursday 10-12 or Tuesdays 7.30-9.30 pm, Dance/Movement Workshop Mondays 4.30-6.00 pm, Drama Workshop, Saturday morning for 13-15 year olds. After School Drama Workshops 9-12 year olds, Tuesdays 4-6 pm, 6-8 year olds Thursday 45.30 pm. CAT-CALL. Tutorship scheme for schools (pupils and staff) SCAT Suitcase Activity Theatre (one actor/teacher drama experience). AUSTRALIAN PERFORMING GROUP (PRAM FACTORY) (347-7133) Back Theatre: Lights Burning In Buckingham shire by Caryl Churchill. To 19 Nov. Front Theatre: The Ship’s Whistle by Barry Oakley. 8 Nov-23 Dec. Touring to schools and community groups, The Unemployment Show. The performers have all experienced unemployment and they devised the show with the assistance of Alison Richards, Claire Dobbin, and Alan Robertson. COMEDY THEATRE (663 1822) An Evening with Liv Ullman, starring Liv Ullman; with Michael Pate. 1-25 Nov. FLYING TRAPEZE CAFE (41-3727) Not yet available. FOIBLES THEATRE RESTAURANT (63-7643) Koobaburra Long-John Underwear Show. To 11 Nov. New show, starring Rod Quantock, Mary Kenneally, Geoff Brooks, Stephen Blackburn and Neville Stern. From 14 Nov. HOOPLA THEATRE FOUNDATION (63-7643) Playbox Theatre: The Next Greatest Pleasure by D M Scott; director, David Kendall; starring Frederick Parslow, Terence Donovan and Barbara Dennis, Maurie Fields, William Gluth, Bruce Kerr, and Jillian Murray. The Unspeakable Adams with Phillip Adams. From 22 Nov. Upstairs Playbox: Roma director, Carrillo Ganter; starring Maggie Millar. From 15 Nov. HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE (663-3211) Annie. Directors, George and Ethel Martin; starring Hayes Gordon and Jill Perryman. LAST LAUGH THEATRE RESTAURANT (419-6226) (From San Francisco) L OSloane’s 3 Black and 3 White Refined Jubilee Minstrels. A cavalcade of American Minstrelty directed by Mr Lenny Sloane. Seminar. Sunday 5 Nov. John Percival: Dance critic of The London Times and Clive Barnes: Dance/Theatre critic of The New York Evening Times. LA MAMA (350-4593/347-6085) In conjunction with the Everyman Theatre Collective, 2 plays —
Forget-Me-Knot (Thurs & Sat) Esther (Fri & Sun) performed on alternate nights to 10 Nov. Fly on the Wall — Jenny Kemp and Robert Meldrum in a programme of improvisations. 16-26 Nov. MELBOURNE THEATRE COMPANY (654-4000) Russell Street Theatre: Gone With Hardy by David Allen; director, Ray Lawler; designer, Steve Nolan; with Collette Mann, Rod Challinor and Tommy Dysart. To 11 Nov. Once A Catholic by Mary O’Malley. From 16 Nov. Atheneum Theatre: The Resistible Rise o f Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht; director, Bruce Myles. To 9 Dec. Tributary Productions: We're Not Sorry...Gene Autry by John Wood; director, Bruce Myles. 4.00 pm Sunday 26 Nov. (Workshop at Art Gallery, Atheneum). The Centenarian by Phillip Ryall; director. Lex Marinos. 29,30 Nov, 1,2,6,7,8,9 Dec. Russell Street Theatre (please check performance times). Also: Saturday Morning Club, youth classes. Curtain-Up, country bus-to-theatre programme. OLD MILL, Geelong Drama Centre of Deakin University. Thursday evening productions. Phone (052) 21-1444. PALAIS THEATRE (94-0655) Australian Ballet: Spartacus. 1 Nov. Australian Opera Company: Nabucco. 6-18 Nov. Norman Gunston. 26-29 Nov. PILGRIM PUPPET THEATRE (818-6650) Beatrix Potter The Tale o f Mr Tod. Adapted and directed by June Epstein. POLYGLOT PUPPETS (8181512) Multi-cultural puppet theatre with Mogg the Cat and Friends. Touring schools and community centres. PRINCESS THEATRE (662-2911) Australian Opera Company: Albert Herring. TIKKI AND JOHN’S Theatre Lounge (663-1754) With Tikki and John Newman, Myrtle Roberts, Vic Gordon and guest artists. TOTAL THEATRE (662-3610) Father’s Day by Oliver Hailey; director, Tom Troupe; with Anne Haddy, Carole Cook, Caz Lederman, Donald McDonald, Tom Oliver, and Patrick Ward. To 25 Nov.
VICTORIAN STATE OPERA (41 5061) St. Cecilia - Alcina Dallas Brooks Hall, Marilyn Richardson, Lauris Elms, Graeme Wall, Mary Ryan, Concentus Musicus of Melbourne and VSO Chorus conducted by Richard Divall. 22 Nov. Schools’ program touring: Sid, the Serpent Who Wanted to Sing by Malcolm Fox; director, Gary Deakes; choreographer, Betty Pounder; with Ian Crow, Robyn Arthur, Toni Adelmahn and Evan Zachariah.
M a jo r A m a te u r C o m p a n ie s : Please contact these theatres in the evenings for details of current productions. CLAYTON THEATRE GROUP (878 1702) HEIDELBERG REPERTORY (49 2262) MALVERN THEATRE COMPANY (2110020) PUMPKIN THEATRE, Richmond (42-8237) 1812 THEATRE, Ferntree Gully (796-8623)
For entries please contact Les Cartwright on 781-1777. T H E A T R E A U ST R A L IA N O V EM B E R 1978
W E S TE R N A U S T R A L IA CIVIC THEATRE RESTAURANT (272-2595) Five Past Christmas 78. Revue; director, Brian Smith. From 10 Nov. HOLE IN THE WALL (381-2403) No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter; director,. Stephen Barry; with Alexander Hay and Edgar Metcalfe. 11 Oct-18 Nov, Wed to Sat.
Australia', magazine ofthe perfoiming arts
NATIONAL THEATRE (325-3500) The Hostage by Brendan Behan; director, Mike Morris; with Joan Sydney and James Beattie. 19 Oct-18 Nov. No No Nanette by Shevelove, Harbach and Mandel; director, Edgar Metcalfe. 21 Nov-23 Dec. NATIONAL THEATRE TIE Red Earth devised by Richard Tulloch and the Co. Drink the Mercury, director, Andrew Ross. Kaspajack by Richard Tulloch; director, Andrew Ross. THE REGAL (381-1557) A Hatful o f Sykes with Hattie Jacques and Eric Sykes. To 4 Nov.
THESPIA’S PRIZE CROSSWORD No.5
WA BALLET COMPANY Ballet 78 Festival, Sydney Opera House. Night Songs by Jacqui Carroll. 3,4 Nov.
WA OPERA COMPANY Perth Concert Hall (352-3399) Tosca by Puccini, with Catherine Duval and Robert Bickerstaff. 10,16,18,25 Nov. For entries contact Joan Ambrose on 299-6639.
N ext Month THE A U S T R A L IA N N A T IO N A L P L A Y W R IG H T ’S CONFERENCE CANBERRA, MAY 1979 Scripts are now being received. ★ ★
Gone with H ardy Act II Reviews: Opera, Theatre, Ballet, Film, and lots more.
S U B S C R IP TIO N RATES
Any play not previously profes sionally produced may be entered. Approximately 6 plays to be selected for workshop treatment by professionals.
A u s tra lia : $18.00 Post Free for twelve issues. Give a gift subscription — and SAVE! $32.00 for two subscriptions.
CLOSING DATE: DECEMBER 7TH, 1978 For further information and application form, which must accompany each entry, please contact:
O ve rs ea s: S u rfa c e m a ll
By a ir
New Zealand, New Guinea A$45.00 U.K., U.S.A., Germany, Greece, Italy AS50.00 All other countries A$70.00
THE ADMINISTRATOR, A.N.P.C., C/-M &LPty. Ltd., 49 Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross 2011. Telephone: 358-3111
Bank drafts in Australian currency should be forwarded to Theatre Publications Ltd., 80 Elizabeth Street, Mayfield, N.S.W. 2304, Australia.
Across: I. Somehow lend meagre bull for Alvin (6,8) 9. Eats her differently and warms up again (7) 10. Church, alternatively beer, for group song (7) II. Doctor returning after Amin for expression (5) 12. Addison and Steele’s viewer (9) 13. Edible national park? (9) 14. Examples of luggage (5) 15. Footwear packs a punch (5) 17. Instrument to allow an electric atom (9) 20. Headgear for wear in Russia (9) 22. Zodiac crab conceals African capital (5) 23. Quick descent to criticise (3,4) 24. For an expedition with a difference, I knit, OK? (3,4) 25. Bob to aid the German writer become a ballet dancer (6,8) Down: 1. Time returns to pitch and calms cricketer...(6,8) 2. ...otherwise his mate has no belief in God (7) 3. Paltry cares for bigoted mentalities (4,5) 4. Optimum gel might be revealed at 14 down (4,3) 5. Dirty in relation to article (7) 6. Right in pom’s frog motto (5) 7. Coming back, the drunkard follows Jack Sprat’s fancy for outhouses (4,3) 8. Oriental gift in food supply is act of portrayal (14) 14. Rise of drapes when the lights go down (7,2) 16. I fast in company for our Diane (7) 17. Opposed to an advantage for the saint (7) 18. Split the French for a popping sound (7) 19. Where the tea that’s offered as a bribe is grown? (2) 21. Witch offers much changed eastern cereal (5)
The first correct entry drawn on November 25th will receive one year’s free subscription to TA.
Last month’s answers. 60
T H E A T R E A U S T R A L IA N O V E M B E R 1978