All posts by Carol Dance

Carol Dance reviewed over 300 plays for her local newspaper in Sydney while working as the editor at the University of New South Wales Press. Then, as CEO of the Australian Commercial Disputes Centre, she observed the full spectrum of human emotions and decided to write plays. She has had 14 plays produced in ten-minute play festivals, three full-length plays produced and two plays published. She now concentrates on researching and writing on cultural contexts, particularly theatre. She is also an artist and is currently exhibited in the Ravenswood Art Exhibition.


Two men appear on stage. Both are 60. Both are famous in Australian cultural circles. Both are very brave to reveal themselves so publicly. They are not actors. They play themselves developing a play about themselves. This isn’t verbatim theatre or theatre verite. It’s a recital of their forty year friendship from their days in high school to 2019 when they developed this performance piece about themselves. It’s an odd concept and it mostly engages the audience. It’s a concept that is worth other creative groups and theatre companies to explore further.

Ian Darling plays himself opposite Greg Fleet, playing himself, as they workshop the piece at the Shark Island Institute’s ARTSLab in the Kangaroo Valley. 

It’s a brave man who so publicly reveals himself. Ian seems to be apologising to the audience for talking about himself. ‘Australians don’t do that’, his body language says. His Order of Australia, his considerable philanthropy projects, and his impressive films are referred to many times. And, indeed,  they are impressive and important films, the latest being The Final Quarter Continue reading THE TWINS : A FORTY YEAR FRIENDSHIP POWERFULLY REVEALED ON STAGE



Monet’s obsession with painting nature, particularly the French countryside, led him to adopt an inventive painting style of impressionism that is basis of the MONET AND FRIENDS exhibition now in Sydney.

You enter a large space with panels of information about the sixteen artists presented.  Prominently featured are Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and Sisley. There are two women artists featured: Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt.  It is well worth lingering in this first room. (You won’t be able to return to it once you enter the next much larger hall.)  Easy-to-read displays describe the artists and their place in the development of impressionism. Continue reading MONET AND FRIENDS @ HALL OF INDUSTRIES, MOORE PARK


The Portia Geach is the portrait exhibition and prize specifically for Australian women artists,  in memorial to artist and feminist Portia Geach ((1873-1959).  This year’s 57 portraits are exceptional.  There is variety in the styles, in the men and women painted, in the size (from a tiny 15 x 20 cm to a grand 198 x 168 cm) and in price ($750 to $26,000).

Sydney artist Sally Robinson was awarded the $30,000 prize with her self-portrait titled Body in a Box. In a joint statement the judges said of Robinson’s winning work, “We admired this bold and audacious portrait which demonstrates an understanding of tonal painting, composition and original technique. The confronting image of the figure contained within a box challenges our social perceptions around ageing.” The painting’s label reveals that Sally feels boxed in as she ages, living a more restricted life.

This is in stark contrast to Kylie Melinda Smith’s portrait of dancer Eileen Kramer.  Kramer, at age 104, is not remotely feeling boxed in. This dancer, designer, painter and writer  exudes humour, energy and enthusiasm for life. The artist says “Eileen’s creativity and knowledge of the arts … gives her courage, vivacity and generosity.”  

Another exquisite painting in the exhibition is Tianli Zu’s portrait of the Governor of NSW, the Hon. Margaret Beazley.

If you love portraiture, don’t miss this year’s Portia Geach.  It is an excellent exhibition.

The exhibition is on at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill, until September 15




England’s National Theatre film productions of their live theatre  performances make you feel you really are in the theatre. The Lehman Trilogy is one of its best.  The original play, by Italian Stefano Massini, was a Homeric ten hours long.  The English translation was reduced by Ben Power to a 210-minute spell-binder, with three actors telling the story of the three brothers from Bavaria who created the world’s largest finance conglomerate out of nothing.  The 150-year saga follows the family on the rise from nothing to become the cotton merchant kings, creators of the Panama Canal, financiers of the rail system across America, and more as they survive the Civil War, the First World War, the Depression, the Second World War, only to become bankrupt in 2008.  At the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis there was not one Lehman family member left in the octopus financial institution.                          Continue reading THE LEHMAN TRILOGY


Aretha Franklin

People queued around the block last night at the Randwick Ritz to see the film of Aretha Franklin’s 1972 two-night performance at a Baptist Church in the Watts district of Los Angeles.  The gospel genre is loved by a by road church… atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Jews… everyone who has a soul for soul and the blues. The film was preceded by an excellent live performance of gospel songs by the Café of the Gate of Salvation, directed by Dynes Austin.  The solo by Cheryl Craig was magnificent. Cheryl is a Detroit African American who has lived in Australia since 2002. She entranced the audience last night.

The two consecutive night performance at the New Temple Baptist Church, with Aretha accompanied by the Southern California Community Choir, was filmed by Sydney Pollack with five cameras. The film was delayed for release due to technical problems converting the film to the new technology. Aretha began as a church-based gospel singer then moved into the commercial field with Respect, A Natural Woman and Bridge Over Troubled Waters being just some of her hits. It was her idea to return to the church for this performance and the recording of the two nights.

The documentary is 95% singing, and thankfully, only 5% rehearsal chatter or interviews.  This is cinema verite at it’s very best.  It’s all about the music and its effect on the audience.   Aretha’s trance-like singing swells with emotion as souring highs, reverberating lows and hums echo around the church.  She has a four-octave range. She often sang or hummed a single syllable while moving between different notes in succession.  The audience in the church swooned, fainted and danced. The audience at the Randwick Ritz last night, clapped and cheered.  

What effect did Aretha have here in Australia in 1972?  Torres Strait singer Christine Anu has said that Aretha is one of her greatest influences and an inspiration to black pride.  “She was the greatest soul singer of all time. Her magic introduced me to a whole new audience and for this, I will forever love her,” Christine created the Aretha Franklin Songbook in 2002 and has performed the Aretha works many times around Australia.  September 19 she is at the Brass Monkey in Cronulla, singing the ‘Songbook’.




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There is a new gallery in Paddington, the Concetta Antico Gallery, 469 Oxford Street. Concetta is originally from Sydney, moved to the U.S. for 33 years and returned only a few months ago with her family to open her gallery. Concetta is a tetrachromat, meaning she has four colour receptors instead of the usual three. Tetrachromacy is the condition of possessing four independent channels for conveying colour information, or possessing four types of cone cell in the eye. About one in 10,000 women are tetrachromats, and I am one of them, too. It simply means I see more of the colour spectrum’s variations than trichromats.

To confirm that I was a tetrachromat, I went to the School of Optometry at the University of NSW and worked my way through a couple of hours of identifying colour variations on numerous charts and palettes. The examiner was 99% certain I have this fourth colour receptor because my son is colour blind. That part remains a bit of mystery to me. At first, I was chuffed to have this special colour vision. But, being an artist ( I then realised people don’t see my paintings the way I see them. And it put me off painting! And it is rather annoying to point out a rainbow that nobody else sees. What else do I see others don’t? Continue reading THE CONCETTA ANTICO GALLERY PADDINGTON OPENS ITS DOORS


You’ve got only tonight and tomorrow night to get to the Sydney Opera House to see the best circus-dance-music EVER!  The world-renowned Vietnamese Circus is in town and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Without the glitz and flashy costumes of Cirque du Soleil, it is a refreshing performance with the precision, imagination and joyfulness that is rare to the Sydney scene.

The Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam has performed at the Perth Festival to fabulous reviews.  It has been acclaimed around the world.

Olivia Anseel, head of SOH Contemporary Performance says “Prepare to witness a unique physical theatre and circus production, a dynamic and humorous spectacle full of joy and theatrical brilliance”.

There should be another word for this show.  It’s more than ‘circus’. It’s more an live music, acrobatics, beat boxing and story-telling.  It’s a visual feast with subtleties that embed in the heart, embrace the brain and beguile the spirit.  

Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam received standing ovations last night. Get yourself there tonight or tomorrow night (June 14 and 15) or miss out on something special.  Family friendly. Tickets from $39.



Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam performs À Ố Làng Phố at the Sydney Opera House June 12 to 15 and promises to be a mesmerising mix of circus, acrobatics, eclectic music, contemporary dance, and theatrical visual art. Reviews from around the world praise the circus. A dazzling array of aerial work, contortion and juggling; a spectacular blend of genres fusing physical theatre, dance and live music; a soundscape of traditional Vietnamese instruments mixed with hip-hop beats.                     Continue reading THE REMARKABLE NOUVEAU CIRQUE DU VIETNAM