Diana Newman is a playwright who has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales with a double major in English and Theatre Studies, graduating in 1991.
Diana has had three plays produced and she was shortlisted twice for NIDA’s playwright’s course.
BITCHIN’ was workshopped at the Genesian Theatre in 1995 with the production being directed by Pamela Whalan.
GAZUMPED was performed at Belvoir Street’s Open House program, directed by Ainslie Masterton in 1995.
STANDUP was performed in 2000, directed by Rhonwen McCormack of Velvet Masque Productions at the Three Weeds Hotel, Rozelle.
If you like your novels sugar coated then read the MUMMY BLOGGERS by Holly Wainwright. Wainwright is the head of entertainment at Mamamia Women’s Network. She is a journalist, writer, editor, podcaster and working mother of two.
The premise of the Mummy Bloggers is simple enough. Three very different mothers devise and hatch plans and strategies in on-line warfare to vie for Blogger of the year at the Blog-aahs awards. There is plenty of drama and deception along the way. Competition is fierce. It begs the question, at what lengths will some people go to be successful while betraying the public in the process? It highlights the fact that many ordinary people want their day in the spotlight and their fifteen minutes of fame.
Featured photo – Tara Moss signing copies of her book at North Sydney’s Stanton Library. All photos by Ben Apfelbaum.
Model, crime author and public speaker Tara Moss’ empowering and enlightening book SPEAKING OUT, aimed at inspiring girls and women, delivers on many levels. And it begs the question, why aren’t there more books written on this subject?!
In Moss’s forward she says, “Having a voice is part of what makes us human…Language connects us. Our voices connect us. When we are silent or unheard our ideals and perspectives, our needs, our pain and our struggles remain unknown or unacknowledged and for this reason unchanged.”
Moss continues with this line of thought- she “examines the challenges facing women and girls – the external obstacles of silencing, dismissals, bullying and threats of violence, and the internal challenges of crises of confidence…”
It was more than a bit of a challenge when I was requested to write a review of a book written by an eminent and esteemed critic, academic, best selling author and a person who is the Sydney Morning Herald chief book reviewer. The gentleman is Andrew Riemer, the book Between The Fish and The Mudcake.
In his book, Riemer reminiscences about well known literary figures; there are food references and destinations mentioned. It is part memoir, history lesson, political piece, travelogue and social commentary.
Between the Fish and the Mudcake begins by discussing Patrick White whom he meets at a dinner party in Sydney in 1966 and who undergoes Riemer’s astute character observations and analysis of his personality. “We see him driven into precisely the taciturn hostility, thinly disguised beneath a veneer of politeness…” Continue reading ANDREW RIEMER : BETWEEN THE FISH AND THE MUDCAKE→
For all of those hopeless romantics out there, you’ve got to feel the love and see THE BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL. It is based on the 1992 Warner Bros film, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner with the book by Alexander Dinelaris. The musical is directed by Thea Sharrock and has arrived in Sydney from its smash hit run in London’s West End.
The journey follows the lives of superstar vocalist Rachel Marron and her new minder, former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer.( played by the appealing Kip Gamblin) Throw defiant personalities into the mix, a threat from an unknown stalker (Brendan Irving) and a sensational soundtrack with lyrics which weave a tale of love, loss and longing and you have a recipe for success.
Comparisons to Whitney Houston are inevitable but Paulini Curuenavuli (Rachel) is on fire in her role and commands attention just like the pyrotechnics in the opening scene. Paulini demonstrates an unsurpassed depth of feeling and passion in her singing and who can forget the heart wrenching song – I Will Always Love You and her rendition is a highlight of the show which brings a tear to one’s eyes. It is a real Paulini moment. She can sing with a gentle tone one minute, (All At Once and One Moment In Time) being tender and touching then be an absolute powerhouse like in the song Queen of the Night. She is the Queen of the show. Her range is extensive.Continue reading THE BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL @ THE LYRIC→
The statistics are alarming; a note from the editor of Bully For Them – Fiona Scott-Norman who also suffered torment at school that, ‘’one in four students is affected by bullying.’’
At school it really is a case of survival of the fittest Bullying can break one’s spirit and leave one scarred for life. It might take years for the damage to one’s self esteem to be reversed. Bullying can cause a severe case of loneliness and lead to depression. It can be hard to forgive them for the anguish that they’ve caused. Many people have difficult home lives but that doesn’t mean they become bullies.
It was lights, cameras, action at the Hayes theatre for this very slick production of MACK AND MABEL, book by Michael Stewart and catchy music by Jerry Herman, directed by Trevor Ashley.
This musical, set in Brooklyn in 1911, centres on the turbulent relationship between the two main characters – Mack Sennet, a controlling, director of silent films with tyrannical tendencies and his aspiring screen star, Mabel Normand.
The production features an effective set design by Lauren Peters, featuring moving mirrors and projections on screens, and wonderful lighting design by Gavin Swift and sound design by Neil Mclean.
We see that Mack’s memories shape the narrative and that they are very subjective.
An assured and appealing Scott Irwin plays Mack ‘I just wants to make the world laugh’ who meets Mabel, a deli shop worker, played with verve and vivaciousness by Angelique Cassimatis.
Mack sees acting potential in Mabel and casts her in one of his comedy movies which he churns out prolifically. Mabel soon has the ‘acting bug’ which the lyrics to the song Look What’s Happened To Mabel describes well, ‘she is ambitious and has to say goodbye to bagels and knishes”.
The acting troupe leave Brooklyn for studios in California and Lottie Ames, played by the charismatic Deonne Zanott, sings Big Time with the lyrics, “the cherry on top of the sundae… the shiny star on top of the tree.”
In the the song I Won’t Send Roses Mack warns Mabel about his nature, ‘I’m preoccupied with me…Forgetting birthdays is guaranteed.” Later Mabel sings, “Who wants chocolates, they’d make me fat. I can get by without a gushing valentine. I know I will be left out on a limb.”
Scriptwriter Frank, played by Adam Di Martino, warns Mabel that, “Mack is a despot who doesn’t respect her as an artist”. Alas, Mabel loves Mack and ignores his advice.
For Mabel her meteoric rise to stardom isn’t enough and she meets the charming, suave yet phony director – William Desmond Taylor, played by Shaun Rennie, who has a part for her in one of his upcoming serious films.
At one point Mabel, resplendent in fur coat and hat with silver handbag and shoes, (lovely costume design by Angela White who shows great attention to detail), sings Wherever He Ain’t.
Mack’s films are getting more involved and now feature bathing beauties – a scene of which is played out with stunning choreography by Cameron Mitchell.
Act Two reveals the five piece band under the musical direction of Bev Kennedy.
All of the actors wish for Mabel to return. Comedian Fattie Arbuckle, played by Stephen Valeri, sings when When Mabel Comes In the Room ‘artificial flowers might even bloom’.
The bumbling slapstick of the Keystone Cops, one of Mack’s creations, adds to his popularity and success.
Other song highlights include Mabel singing the heartfelt Time Heals Everything, ‘One fine morning the hurt will end’, and a tour de force rendition by Lottie of Tap Your Troubles Away, a treat for dance aficionados.
Mabel’s life hits a downward trajectory. What’s to become of her? It is as if Mack has written the script to his own life and is unable to alter the ending. In retrospect, he is trapped by his own torturous demeanour and having regrets.
The more than marvellous MACK AND MABEL, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point, is playing the Hayes Theatre until December 18.
Murder, mystery, suspense, romance plus acting to die for awaits you if you attend this current production, Agathie Christie’s 1945 stage adaptation based on her 1938 novel of the same name. directed by the Company’s current Artistic Director Barry Nielson.
Nielson’s production features a large impressive cast. The focus of the play is on Mrs Boynton, a pivotal role played to the hilt and with aplomb by Leilani Loau. Dressed in top to toe black, her characters’ true colours are revealed as the narrative develops.
Mrs Boynton is the matriarch from hell who presides over her stepchildren with an iron fist. She is an expert in playing cat and mouse games. She enjoys how her family are dependant on her financially; she laughs maniacally, conveying her cruel, sadistic, cunning and manipulative nature. She was a former wardress in prison and has a lust for power. Continue reading GENESIAN THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS AGATHIE CHRISTIE THRILLER→
For the hottest tickets in town you can’t go past seeing XANADU THE MUSICAL which is a satire of the 1980s film. The book to the musical has been written by Douglas Carter Beane with music by Jeff Lyne of Electric Light Orchestra fame, and John Farrar, Olivia Newton- John’s producer. This current revival has been produced by Matthew Henderson and Matthew Management, directed by Nathan M. Wright and musical direction by Andrew Bevis.
The role of the literary reviewer is to provide both positive and negative written feedback on the book in question. It entails subjectivity but I believe that the critic’s main aim is to vividly and accurately delve into the mind’s eye of the author with detailed descriptions of the text, the use of devices conveying rhythm of the language used and meaning, also how the book affects the reader emotionally and/or intellectually.
There is a saying that “everyone’s a critic”. When I read a book, it inevitably has an impact on me. The writers here have chosen works of literature that have engrossed them and left an indelible imprint on them.
The erudite reviewers are from varied backgrounds. Here are a few highlights from FORTY SEVEN BOOKS:-
Nineteen Eighty Four (1948) by George Orwell, review by Tanya Robb. “The political themes in the book are censorship, state controlled surveillance, suppression of dissenting opinion and the use of hate and fear mongering for political power…” Continue reading FRIENDS RECOMMEND 47 BOOKS→
Leading American playwright Sarah Ruhl’s book, divided into four parts, sees her dealing with the life versus theatre conundrum whilst she successfully combines her two roles of being a mother and active theatre practitioner.
Ruhl is a quick witted observer of the theatre and there simply aren’t enough adjectives to describe her short, sharp, intelligent and knowledgeable treatises.
Ruhl’s articulate discourse on what constitutes great theatre demonstrates her wonderful ability to argue the finer points. She has a diverse range of original ideas covering many topics. She certainly knows her craft and raises important issues within the book both on a personal and professional level. Continue reading PLAYWRIGHT TURNS ESSAYIST : SARAH RUHL→
If you have an appetite and a zest for life then read on…
The promo blurb to DINING ALONE describe the collection thus, “Dining Alone was written by creative writing students at the University of Adelaide from 2007 to 2013; young and old, aggressive and reflective, wistful and resolute, some content in their cloak of solitude while others envy the love and laughter at other tables. The stories are poignant and surprising, sometimes with a hint of mystery or political intrigue; some have bittersweet endings while others celebrate brave new beginnings.”
The collection has been edited by Professor Barbara Santich. The students stories are journeys with food as well as being journeys of self discovery which satisfy, soothe and feed the soul’s cravings as well. Continue reading DINING ALONE→
For a real treat go and see the slightly risque NINE presented by the Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble.
Directed by Jonathan Rush and based on the book by Mario Fratti NINE deals with Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film 8 ½. The musical with orchestral accompaniment “leaps between reality and fantasy, comedy and drama, past and present…”
The protagonist, anguished film director Guido Contini, is played with panache by the talented Doug Emery, has difficulty distinguishing between his personal and creative life.
NINE, set in 1960’s Venice, finds Guido nearing a meltdown over the prospect of turning forty and with no script for his next film. NINE explores Guido’s fragility and his numerous romantic liaisons. Guido’s long suffering wife, actress Luisa Contini (Bridget Haberecht) suggests a visit to an exclusive spa in the hope of repairing their marriage. His lover, the sultry Carla Albanese (Anna Colless), interrupts their sojourn. Continue reading M.U.S.E PRESENTS NINE AT REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE→
GHOST STORIES is a spooky play written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson which has come direct from the West End. A note from the director Peter J. Snee states that, “Our biggest fear is that horror is lurking somewhere out there…it is lurking inside you right now, simply waiting for the opportunity to break free when you are least expecting it and are at your most vulnerable.”
For die hard fans of the classic movie you can’t go past SING A LONG A SOUND OF MUSIC where audience members get to release their inner, favourite Von Trapp family singer.
SING A LONG A SOUND OF MUSIC promised an evening of wholesome, nostalgic entertainment where everyone from children to senior citizens were given the chance to celebrate the popular, iconic musical’s 50th anniversary. This it certainly delivered with style and panache,
I had an absolute ball with my eighty year old companion, singing in unison with hundreds of devotees, who were helped with the film having surtitles.
‘I have had the time of my life and I’ve never felt this way before’ sums up my reaction to DIRTY DANCING. This is the classic stage show based on the hit movie of the same name, written by Eleanor Bergstein.
Both the last production in Sydney in 2004, which I saw twice, and the present revival have been unique, very special and faultless.
THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion is a sequel to his quirky first novel:– The Rosie Project which imbued with warmth sold over one million copies and was published in thirty eight languages.
In the ROSIE PROJECT the protagonist Don Tillman writes himself a questionnaire to find the perfect partner. Rosie is not the type he would have chosen and Don, who is inflexible in his routines, has to throw his schedules out the proverbial window. Continue reading The Rosie Effect→
WICKED is a prequel to The Wizard Of Oz and the plot unfolds in the years leading to Dorothy’s arrival. It is the tale of two unlikely friends: Glinda the Good, a role reprised by the outstanding Lucy Durack, and Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, played by the exceptional Jemma Rix. They form a bond in College which leads to different destinies. Glinda is popular and beautiful while misunderstood Elphaba was “born different”, that is, she is green. One friend is seduced by power whilst the other remains true to herself.
The musical begins with the citizens of Oz celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch as Glinda arrives. The remainder of the plot forms an extended flashback of the lives of the two women. Continue reading Wicked→
“Falling in love is like falling asleep…slowly then all at once” says Hazel the female protagonist in Green’s novel which is a number one New York times best seller.
The reader is involved from the outset in Hazel’s journey. It is extremely difficult for the reader not to become caught up in Hazel’s psychological, social, intellectual and emotional battles as she suffers from a serious illness. Not only must she deal with hormones and schoolwork she must face challenges on a day to day level.
THE BOOK THIEF is a Brian Percival film from a screenplay by Michael Petroni based on the best selling novel by author Marcus Zuzsak. The story is set in Germany during World War 11.
The young female lead character – Liesel played by the wonderful Sophie Nelisse- is sent to live with a foster family. Books become her world due to her warm and loving father-Hans (“the man with the accordian heart”) played by the multi talented Geoffrey Rush and Max, a Jew who takes refuge in their basement. Max quotes from Aristotle, “Memory is the scribe of the soul.”
‘There are two times in life. There is now and there is too late.’
Do echoes the sentiments and philosophy of his father with whom he has conflicting emotions, and who abandoned him at a young age.
THE HAPPIEST REFUGEE is a memoir written with pathos and humour. It is also full of insight and portrays Anh’s struggles as he and his extended family flee from the turmoil of his homeland Vietnam on an overcrowded boat to pursue a better life in Australia. Do faces perils at sea from pirates to starvation.