All posts by Ben Apfelbaum

My photography began when my father handed me the proverbial brownie box camera as a child. As cameras developed I went through Fujica and Olympus range finders graduating to my first single lens reflex camera, the Minolta SRT101, the latter being the greatest facilitator to my growth as a photographer. Digital photography has only added to this. I was a regular contributor to Camera Craft magazine (Australian Camera ) for over three years. During Australia’s Bicentennial year (1988) I made it a personal project to document the celebrations. This culminated in the creation of a book of my photos which was published in 1989. The book was called CELEBRATING AUSTRALIA and came with an accompanying calendar. My works have appeared in a number of publications including the coffee book entitled MY AUSTRALIA (1989), publisher Robertsbridge Severn. This book had a preface by the then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. I was a co-photographer on a book entitled SYDNEY- DISCOVER THE CITY with text written by Robert Treborland. Major Mitchell Press was the publisher. Also for two years I was the photographer for calendars celebrating Sydney’s multicultural communities. The two calendars were entitled MULTICULTURAL SYDNEY. My work appeared in a group exhibition held at Sydney’s Town Hall pertaining to the diversity of life in South America to raise money for orphanages there. I have over one hundred photos stored in the New South Wales State Library archive. I had a solo exhibition held in 2007 entitled Ben’s Lens at the Sydney Jewish Museum which celebrated the vibrancy of the Sydney Jewish community. Some of these photos are on the Museum’s permanent display. I have exhibited internationally firstly at the Spruill Gallery in Atlanta Georgia, united states, and in an exhibition entitled Kosher and Co at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Currently I am a regular contributor to J-Wire and this esteemed publication.


SPAMALOT ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the 1975 film  Monty Python and the Holy Grail opened on Broadway in 2005, ran for 1,575 shows and grossed $175, 000,000 and winning 3 Tony awards. Strangely enough when the production came to Australia it flopped.

The Hayes Theatre Company has successfully breathed new life into the 2008 corpse with the hilarious reinvigoration of SPAMALOT. The spam in the title is not the internet scourge but is the registered trademark of a type of faux ham.

The play irreverently revives the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. That is the only similarity between this legend and Spamalot. Arthur is challenged by God to find the holy grail, a cup used by Jesus in the last Supper. King Arthur accepts the challenge, rounds up a band of silly knights and must face insulting and flatulent Frenchman, a killer rabbit, the Knights who say ‘Ni’, and a Black Knight who will not lay down and die, amongst other impediments, including the stupidity of  his Knights.

Once again, the Hayes stage is packed with young actors whose energy and enthusiasm washes over the audience in a delightful wave. Continue reading SPAMALOT : COMIC MAYHEM @ THE HAYES


This year’s Bell Shakespeare Company season began with the ribald farce THE MISER marking its 29th year. At the opening night after party Gill Perkins, Executive Director of Bell Shakespeare, outlined an ambitious program for this year and the next.

The most exciting project to celebrate the 30th year is a proposed move to Pier 2-3  in Sydney’s Walsh BayEarlier this year the John Bell Scholarships were awarded to winners from Hamilton, New South Wales, South Yunderup, Western Australia and Darwin, Northern Territory. It involved a week of intensive performance training and mentorship in Sydney. Bell Shakespeare will train 30 teachers from all over Australia to receive specialist training in exciting and involving ways to teach Shakespeare with ongoing support throughout the year.

There will also be a tour of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING visiting 28 venues nationwide as well as  master classes, workshops and seminars across the country which reach more than 140,000 people annually.

There were a number of influential supporters at the after party and she urged both them and their friends to get behind these ventures. Continue reading THE MISER : OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATIONS


1977  was a huge break-out year for John Travolta with the monster hits Grease and Saturday Night Fever  bringing enormous financial success both at the box office and from the purchases s of the soundtracks.

I confess that I saw both these films whilst sojourning in exotic locations.  This caused me to suspend all critical faculties such that I adored both films.

If I had to pick a favourite it would have to be Saturday Night Fever and in particular its gritty back story.   I was also partial to its disco beat and dancing.



Attracting  politicians, poets and high school students, the Poets Picnic was held at the beautiful Blackburn Gardens adjacent to the Woollahra Council chambers and the former Woollahra Library.  Both the crowd and the poets were in a celebratory mood as this was the 30th time that Woollahra Library had hosted this event.

In honour of this occasion beautiful cupcakes emblazoned with the number thirty were handed out to those participating in the picnic.

Another veteran of the Poets Picnic was ABC presenter Simon Marnie who emceed the poetry performances for the 18th time.

The theme of this year’s poems was Change but as is the case with free wheeling poetry not every poem stuck to this subject. Naturally nobody minded as the spectators enjoyed a balmy night in the most beautiful harbour side setting with white cockatoos circling above and birds song complemented the lovely oratory of the poet presenters. Continue reading POETS PICNIC 2019 – 30 YEARS YOUNG


The Pig is the twelfth month of the Chinese Zodiac. Some say that Chinese Muslims put it last so that after reciting the previous eleven months, they did not have to recite the name of the Pig  because it is an unclean animal.

However for most Chinese the Pig represents luck, overall good fortune, wealth, honesty and general prosperity. A person born in the year of the Pig is regarded as hard working, peace loving, truthful, generous, patient, reliable, trusting, sociable, and with a large sense of humour and understanding.

The Sydney Chinese festival is hailed as the largest Chinese Lunar New Year festival  outside China. It has a huge range of events scattered throughout the Sydney area and has run since the beginning of February until the 23rd February.

As well as what takes place in the inner city area there is a huge Lunar New Year festival in Cabramatta. Continue reading CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR OF THE PIG 2019


Fair Day returned to Victoria Park  in Broadway on Sunday 17th February and like last year it was bathed in glorious sunshine. Last year’s crowd was estimated by the organisers at 80,000 people and there were at least that many this year.

The Fair is free and open to all and there were many ‘traditional’ families as well as the families and friends of the LGBTQI community. By saying this I do not wish to imply that there was some sort of  division as the whole day exuded a unity of a love, warmth, generosity of spirit and above all fun.

If you wanted to cool off even Victoria Park’s swimming pool was open to all. Continue reading MARDI GRAS FAIR DAY


Tropfest has suffered some very heavy blows both financial and physical.

Tropfest was nearly dealt a fatal blow due to financial mismanagement but not at the hands of founding director John Polson. CGU Insurance  and Parramatta Council came to Tropfest’s rescue whereby it transferred from Centennial Park to Parramatta Park. In fact, a few years ago, in Centennial Park, Tropfest had to be suspended due to a violent electrical storm over the park .                    Continue reading TROPFEST 2019 : THE WRAP


The Hoyts Entertainment cinemas at the Entertainment Quarter hosted the world premiere of THE COMBINATION REDEMPTION.

I felt like I was attending a Lebanese wedding as cast, crew and community members glammed up for this event. It has been a long time  since I have attended a red carpet with such an array of dazzling and glittering formal wear.                     Continue reading THE COMBINATION REDEMPTION


“UNTIL is about the urgency I feel as an artist, as an African American…and as a resident of Chicago, Illinois. All too often we are faced with  a history…in which gun violence pervades our streets in the hands of both civilians and law enforcement. This abuse of power – and of gun control laws – leads to far too many eulogies of Afro-Americans on the news and in our hearts. Bu ‘UNTIL is also about how it is up to the community to come together…to try and overcome and to offer solutions.” Nick Cave

A turn on the phrase ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ or in the case of Black America ‘guilty until proven innocent’, UNTIL examines the complex issues of race relations, gun violence and gender politics  that fracture the USA and some other communities around the world.

Sydney is fortunate  that Nick Cave and Carriageworks have struck up a relationship whereby we have previously seen other examples  of his beautiful, immersive and thought provoking installations.

This is the most complex exhibition to date. It occupies almost the entire ground floor of Carriageworks. Continue reading UNTIL : A NEW EXHIBITION BY NICK CAVE @ CARRIAGEWORKS


A Hollywood movie obtains its storylines and ideas from numerous sources. The traditional wellsprings came from books, the theatre or from an original screenplay.

In more recent times ‘inspiration’ can be found in sequels and even more recently in video games. This film is an example of the late, a Japanese style anime film based on the Dragon Ball video game.

Put the words anime and video games together and you will have produced the latest social phenomenon- cosplaying.

Accordingly  most of the celebrities on the red carpet were people dressed as characters from the film. It was geek central at the Event cinema, CBD, geek no longer being a pejorative term!.

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum (c)


DESTROYER is a 2018 crime drama directed by Karyn Kusama from a screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. It follows an undercover LAPD officer who must take out members of a gang years after her cover was blown. It stars Nicole Kidman who, at the 76th Golden Globe awards, was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture- Drama.

In Australia to support her husband Keith Urban for his drought relief charity concert, Nicole Kidman also enjoyed  the Australian Tennis Open and found time to attend the Red Carpet  for this movie  at the St George Open Air Cinema.

It is award season and it would  appear  that Nicole Kidman  has forsaken the icy blasts of the US for the warmth of an Australian summer and time with her family.

If her husband is not on the Red Carpet her plus one, lately, has been her niece Lucia Hawley. Nicole Kidman’s Instagram followers had the unique experience of the actress televising herself as to when she would arrive at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

There was a large crowd waiting to greet her  and she was very relaxed meeting and greeting with the enthusiastic throng.

To overcome the disadvantages of inclement weather and occasional  energy sapping humidity the Open Air Cinema runs first time movies often ahead of their official release date.

However when the weather is just right there is no more lovely place in the world to watch a film.

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum