Memoir

DAVID MCALLISTER AWARDED THE QUEEN ELIZABETH 11 CORONATION AWARD

David McAllister. Pic Chris Pavlich
Liz Toohey and David McAllister. Pic Chris Pavlich

At a gala lunch held today attended by hundreds of ballet lovers, David McAllister AM,  the immediate past Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, was surprised when the event  took a turn and became “David McAllister This Is Your Life”. The lunch entitled  “Celebrating David McAllister AM with a little help from his Friends” was a joyous  occasion with many surprise guests.  

David McAllister This Is Your Life was hosted by Elizabeth Toohey, currently Ballet  Mistress of The Australian Ballet and long-term dance partner and close personal friend.  Elizabeth surprised David with the following guests either in person or by video who  recounted stories from David’s career. They included Don McAllister (David’s father) and  Dianne Morris (David’s sister); Wesley Enoch AM (David’s partner and outgoing Director  of the Sydney Festival); Graeme Murphy AO and Janet Vernon AM; Maina Gielgud AO;  past General Managers of The Australian Ballet Ian McRae AO and Richard Evans; and  Darren Spowart (an ex-dancer of The Australian Ballet and childhood friend of David).   Continue reading DAVID MCALLISTER AWARDED THE QUEEN ELIZABETH 11 CORONATION AWARD

JUDITH LUCY: TURNS OUT,I’M FINE

“Hitting the big five-zero few women are being complimented for their distinguished looks and impressive careers.”, writes Judith Lucy in her latest book, TURNS OUT, I’M FINE.

Sadly so, but, on the face of it, Judith Lucy should be considered in that few. With her distinguished looks and impressive careers, including best selling and award winning author, she should shower in compliments, bathe in kudos, and bask in the sunshine of success.

Turns out, she can be dissed, duped and dumped with the best of us. Turns out that this smart, independent, funny feminist had, deep down, always been waiting for a man to ‘complete her.’ Turns out she has been able to take this recipe for disaster and cook up a book that is deliciously entertaining.

TURNS OUT, I’M FINE is the result of a watershed incident that put her into an emotional water closet. Previously flushed with success, now flushed with failure, as her prince turned toad.

Annoyingly, for her, she had to revisit ground she thought she’d well and truly covered in shows and books and television specials. And she learned a lot. And through the book, we do too.

TURNS OUT, I’M FINE is poignant, deep and meaningful, while packing punchlines and sardonic asides like sardines.

Boyfriends become Buggerlugs, an endearing term for what behaviourally were bastards, bounders and cads in bygone terminology, blokes who were not really nice or confident in themselves, ready to enjoy her crazy life and have fun. Bugger the Buggerlugs for a joke.

Taking the pith out of navel gazing, this grand dame of drollery gives us chirpy, chipper chapters like When I Grow Up I’ll Be a Feminist Princess, and Can I Blame My Parents for Everything followed by anatomically adroit offerings like One Hot Cunt and How Not To Be An Arsehole Person.

By sharing her story, Judith Lucy is trying not to be an arsehole, educating and entertaining us so that we experience empathy and not just foster pity.

A comic Confucius, Judith Lucy seeks not to know all the answers, but to understand the questions. Like, Were women designed by someone who was trying to win a bet?

TURNS OUT I’M FINE by Judith Lucy is published by Scribner

PICTURING A NATION : THE ART AND LIFE OF A.H.FULLWOOD

An intriguing, most interesting book about the life and times of A H ( ALBERT HENRY ) FULLWOOD, nowadays a somewhat forgotten artist. Yet his work and that of Streeton and Roberts in particular shaped how Australia was viewed both here and abroad. 

While born in Birmingham, UK , Fullwood was regarded in his time as a major Australian Impressionist painter, and an example of the Heidelberg school.

Gary Werskey’s biography is extensively researched, generously illustrated and written in a captivating style, bringing Fulwood to life. The book is of small to medium size if a trifle thick, has a Prologue and Epilogue and is divided into fourteen chapters. At the back of the book there is a comprehensive index.

It has illustrations throughout both in black and white and colour. Continue reading PICTURING A NATION : THE ART AND LIFE OF A.H.FULLWOOD

ELAINE HAXTON BY LORRAINE PENNY McLAUGHLIN

Where did she get the energy from?!

Art was her life. This is a large, beautifully, lavishly illustrated coffee table book about the fascinating life of ELAINE HAXTON, excellently researched.

This publication is divided into ten chapters with a forward by Adam Wynn. While yes there is a table of contents at the front and an extensive bibliography, this is one of those excellent but annoying books that doesn’t have an index.

Copies of newspaper clippings and brief information about various people or events are included in highlight boxes on the page. We learn that Haxton travelled wildly, which expanded and developed her oeuvre. She worked in various media and often juggled different projects all at once. How did she do it?  She was a favourite of the press and had a great reputation in the art world. Continue reading ELAINE HAXTON BY LORRAINE PENNY McLAUGHLIN

A STAR ON HER DOOR : THE LIFE AND CAREER OF JUNE BRONHILL

This is an affectionate, delightful look at the life of June Bronhill, one of Australia’s theatrical legends, by Richard Davis.

The book has twelve chapters, a list of June’s stage performances (this reviewer saw her several times in various productions), a list of the recordings she made and a select bibliography as well as an index and a loving forward by Marina Prior. All the photos included are in black and white.

June’s career included performances in grand opera, comic opera/operetta, musicals, straight plays, variety, radio, concerts, television and assorted recordings. Her extraordinary talent brought her success, fame and the devotion of a legion of fans. There was a private June the public rarely saw. Continue reading A STAR ON HER DOOR : THE LIFE AND CAREER OF JUNE BRONHILL

MARY’S LAST DANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE WIFE OF ‘MAO’S LAST DANCER’

Author Mary Li

This highly anticipated book is a companion piece in a way to ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’, the extraordinary story of Li Cunxin currently Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet.

Now for Mary, his wife. It is a powerful and moving tale of a mother (and father’s ) love, of Mary sacrificing her career for her daughter and the various struggles the family has been through. It blends four or more worlds: those of ballet, finance, Western and Chinese and the hearing and deaf. How does the family – but especially Mary and daughter Sophie – manage? The importance of family is a major theme throughout the book.

The book is warm and engaging. Mary’s voice comes across with a definitely Aussie ‘accent’. It is divided into six parts and twenty chapters, with photographs in the middle. Continue reading MARY’S LAST DANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE WIFE OF ‘MAO’S LAST DANCER’

‘SOAR, A LIFE FREED BY DANCE’ BY DAVID MCALLISTER

This is a fascinating autobiography by the current artistic director of the Australian Ballet David McAllister, written in conjunction with Amanda Dunn.

David McAllister was born in Perth and his is a story of courage and following your passion. McAllister has almost always belonged onstage.

In his memoir we follow him from when he was the middle child in a Catholic family, who knew nothing about dance, observing himself twirl in the reflective glass of the TV and dreaming about becoming the next Rudolf Nureyev. As a little boy taking ballet lessons, he was viciously bullied. Continue reading ‘SOAR, A LIFE FREED BY DANCE’ BY DAVID MCALLISTER

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 60 YEARS 1960-2020

The Adelaide Festival , or Festival of the Arts as it was originally known , has now been going for an amazing 60 years.

This is a beautiful, large and heavy coffee table book. It is divided into nine ‘chapters’ and is lavishly illustrated throughout with both black and white and colour photos. At the back is a tabulation of sixty years of posters advertising the Festival, then a list of short biographies of the various contributors. It is not an archival, chronological record of the Festival but rather a collection of memories and photos.

The editor, Catherine McKinnon, is an award-winning novelist and playwright. She studied theatre performance and cinema at Flinders University. Her play ‘Tilt’ was selected for the 2010 National Playwriting Festival, and As I Lay Dreaming won the 2010 Mitch Matthews Award. Her short stories, reviews and articles have appeared in Transnational Literature, Text Journal, RealTime, Narrative and the Griffith Review.

McKinnon, along with four other writers, won the Griffith Review Novella 111 Award, 2015, and her novella ‘Will Martin’ was published by Griffith Review in October of that year. Her novel ‘Storyland’ was shortlisted for the 2018 Miles Franklin Award, the Barbara Jefferis Award and the Voss Award.

Contributors (over fifty of them!) range from previous Artistic Directors, performers in the Festival (some have been both) reviewers , lighting designers, publicists and other Adelaide luminaries.

The book looks at the problems of programming a Festival , ticketing the Festival, performing in a Festival and the massive successes , the dangerous accidents and near misses in performance. It also looks at the interconnectivity of people connected to the Festival , and we learn about various productions and their links to the history of Australian Dance Theatre,  the Australian Ballet,  Circus OZ, Bangarra, the Sydney Symphony etc.

Other passages are very personal : We read of Jim Sharman’s extended sojourn with the Festival since 1964 , how Akram Khan was a teenage performer in Brook’s ‘Mahabharata’ and has become Artistic Director of one of the world’s major dance companies , Annabel Crabb driving members of the Frankfurt Ballet to Maslin’s Beach, Rachel Healey being transfixed by Phillipe Genty’s puppets as a child.

In the opera world we learn that several productions as part of the Festival were the first performances of that work in Australia. WOMelaide, Writers Week and Artist’s Week are also part of the memories. There is also an article included by former SA premier Don Dunstan , who was a major supporter of the arts

It is fascinating to see that some events/productions are consistently mentioned as magical experiences – eg the 1980 Water Tunnel , Pina Bausch and her company visiting , Peter Brook’s Mahabharata and the opera Voss to name just a few. The inclusion of indigenous content in the Festival is also examined. The intersections of the various people exemplify how the Festival has become a major nucleus for the arts in South Australia.

The book asks – why Adelaide? Does Adelaide and its Festival have its own distinct personality? Can a performance change your life?

The Festival is both of and for the people – there is a great quote by its founder,Professor John Bishop OBE – to whom the Festival’s aim is to ‘ To do the extraordinary … to make possible that which otherwise would not happen ‘.

As Patrick McDonald says ‘ Diversity, inclusivity and creativity have been the consistent hallmarks of sixty years of Adelaide Festival openings. All that remains to be seen is what future fusions of imagination and technology will bring to its table’ .To quote Barry Kosky ‘ Long may it reverberate and rejoice’.

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 60 YEARS 1960-2020 is published by Wakefield Press and available at all leading book retailers.
Category
Format Hardback
Size 255 x 255 mm
ISBN 9781743056882
Extent 296 pages

KRISTIAN FREDRIKSON by MICHELLE POTTER

KRISTIAN FREDRIKSON BY MICHELLE POTTER
August 2020
‘ I’m the original Peter Pan : I never wanted to grow up ‘ ( Kristian Fredrikson )

Renowned dance critic Michelle Potter has produced a lushly, lavishly illustrated (both black and white and coloured ) meticulously and extensively researched biography of the eminent designer Kristian Fredrikson.The book is medium to large in size , of middling thickness and has a great index as well as a chronological list of productions that Fredrikson designed and a bibliography . The author, Michelle Potter ,is a prominent dance writer, curator and historian with a doctorate in art history and dance history from the Australian National University. Potter was inaugural Curator of Dance at the National library of Australia, 2002 – 2006, and Curator, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New York City, 2006 – 2008.She is the recipient of an International Dance Day Award (1996), two Australian Cultural Studies Awards (1998 & 2000), and two Australian Dance Awards (2001 & 2003). She also received a 2012 Scholars and Artists in Residence Fellowship at the National Film and Sound Archive.

Fredrikson was a recipient of four Erik Design Awards and won prestigious Green Room Awards for After Venice (Sydney Dance Company – 1985), King Roger (1991),Turandot (1991), The Nutcracker (1992), Salome (1993), Swan Lake (2002) and an AFI award for Undercover. Fredrickson also received a Penguin Award for The Shiralee (1988). In 1999 he received the Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance. Continue reading KRISTIAN FREDRIKSON by MICHELLE POTTER

HOW I CLAWED MY WAY TO THE MIDDLE: A MEMOIR

One of the positives of this vile Covid 19 pandemic is the production of John Wood’s memoir, HOW I CLAWED MY WAY TO THE MIDDLE.

The actor had been asked to commit pen to paper previously but quickly lost interest in the subject the moment he sat down to chronicle his career.

At the beginning of 2020, John found himself treading the boards at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney playing in Crunch Time, David Williamson’s swan song.

During this time, he was thinking if David was calling it quits maybe he should pull up stumps too, but then reconsidered. What could he possibly do if he wasn’t acting. Then Corona closed Crunch Time and he had time to work on this book. Continue reading HOW I CLAWED MY WAY TO THE MIDDLE: A MEMOIR

WHERE ARE YOU THIS TIME? MAKING A DIFFERENCE

“More and more restrictions were placed on our daily lives, limiting our freedom of movement and creating the feeling that it wasn’t safe to even leave the house.”

This line from Mary Venner’s book, WHERE ARE YOU THIS TIME? chimes a timely resonance to readers in this age of the COVID-19, but the book is not a chronicle of the current Corona virus.

At the start of 2000, Mary Venner, an Australian public servant, decided to decamp Canberra for Kosovo to work for the post conflict UN Mission.

It was the beginning of a series of foreign aid forays embarked upon by the author who recounts her adventures in WHERE ARE YOU THIS TIME? – Making a difference in Places from Kabul to Kiev, Kosovo to Kazakhstan and Kismayo to Qatar.

On arrival in Pristina, Venner presumed that the devastation she saw was the result of NATO bombs. In fact, the war had done little damage to once pristine Pristina. Rather, the damage done is when there is no money and no government, when roads are not repaired and rubbish goes uncollected, and desperate people steal manhole covers and electricity cables to sell for scrap.

While the UN mission was supposed to be creating a stable government and setting up a professional administration for Kosovo, it was struggling with a diverse hodgepodge of staff with no common philosophy, ideology or policy direction, a shortage of funds, and an archaic exceedingly bureaucratic system of administration.

The perils of Pristina seemed insurmountable but by the end of her twelve months contract, Venner had made inroads, life was interesting, and the work was important.
She signed on for another year with a task force to reform the financial management of the education system.

In 2003, Venner jettisoned Kosovo for Kabul as a budget adviser. Foreign advisers didn’t have to start from scratch to set up an administration, as was the case in Kosovo. In some ways, she says, this was unfortunate.

Presidential decrees in Kabul were known locally as hokums, and dozens of hokums were signed every week making the carefully calculated, fiercely argued annual budget fraught with frustration.

As her first twelve months in Afghanistan morphed into a second year, Venner had become an old hand, savvy to the Kissin Kuzzins of Kabul, the quaintly named The Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled, The Ministry of Tribes and Frontiers, and the SNAFU of quite candid corruption.

Then it’s off to Kazakhstan, Dina, the director of Budget Process Methodology in the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning. Sounds like a relic left over when the country was part of the Soviet Union. But there is hope.

WHERE ARE YOU THIS TIME? is a globe trotting adventure without the glamour usually associated with such a term, an insiders look at foreign aid, its progress and pitfalls.
“Like many public servants everywhere, they underestimate the true cost of doing things and overestimate their ability to get things done.”

WHERE ARE YOU THIS TIME? by Mary Venner is available via online booksellers and eBook distributors including Amazon, Book Depository and Booktopia.

MARK MORRIS :  OUT LOUD A MEMOIR

From the very first page Morris’ warm , flamboyant voice captivates us in this intimate , extremely revealing book .Out loud and proud. You feel as if he is talking to you as a close friend.The book itself is of medium size and fairly thick , delightfully illustrated , with a great index at the back. It is written by Morris in collaboration with novelist/singer-songwriter Wesley Stace with great panache and frankness.

Dance lovers might be aware of Joan Acoclla’s 1993 biography
.
OUT LOUD takes you on a roller coaster ride through Morris’s personal life interwoven with the history of his company, the Mark Morris Dance Group .It also considers the history of modern dance and how this is linked to music through the ages.( Look at the range of composers Morris has worked with – everyone from Bach, Brahms ,Handel, Purcell, and Poulenc , Stravinsky, Vivaldi,– as well as Gershwin , Lou Harrison, Indian classical music , the Louvin Brothers, and Thai pop artists. Morris insists on live music and is extremely attentive to the score.) Mark Morris Dance Group is one of America’s major modern-dance companies, and Morris has long been regarded as both naughty and delightful as well as discerning . He has a great eye for the significant detail. Continue reading MARK MORRIS :  OUT LOUD A MEMOIR

HOME WORK: FROM MARY POPPINS TO VICTOR VICTORIA

Towards the end of her latest book, HOME WORK, Julie Andrews writes, “The most important thing I have learned is the simplest of all: people are just people – no matter their politics, their skin colour or where they live. There is no difference in our humanity; only in our circumstances.”

The circumstances of Julie Andrews’ life has been one of luck and privilege, endowed with a unique voice, mentored by giants, a talent that gained resilience from hard work, and an ability to seize on opportunity when it knocked.

The title of the book, HOME WORK, refers to the juggle of career and domestic life, a balancing act of blurred edges seeing that she was married to film maker, Blake Edwards, and they worked on many projects together.

Julie writes that her favourite song from The Sound of Music is Edelweiss. To her it’s an anthem that speaks to one’s homeland, no matter where that may be. Julie confides that she spent so much of her early life trying to unify her need for home with her commitment to work.

“These days I’ve come to realise that home is a feeling as much as it is a place; it is as much about loving what I do as being where I am.”

Subtitled A Memoir of my Hollywood Years, HOME WORK picks up from her first film, Mary Poppins, for which she won an Oscar and takes us through to Victor, Victoria, for which she was nominated again for an Academy Award.

Co written with daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, HOME WORK is revealing without being a salacious tell all. It chronicles the failure of her first marriage to designer, Tony Walton, the grueling treadmill of her first years in Hollywood – she completed three pictures before Mary Poppins was released – her decision to enter psycho analyses, and her subsequent romance, marriage and life with Blake Edwards, her “Blackie”, mercurial of mind and mood, the always admired artist, the not so admirable spouse. Still, the marriage lasted 41 years, till death did he part.

HOME WORK is peppered with showbiz anecdote – why Omar Sharif might have been a better fit for Inspector Clouseau – and littered with terrific photographs.

Candor with a spoonful of sugar, HOME WORK presents home truths in a most delightful way.

HOME WORK by Julie Andrews is published by W&N.

 

PAUL GALLEN : HEART AND SOUL

There is usually a rush of sports books as a reliable stocking filler for Dad’s to read on their annual holidays.

The most recent of these is for fans of rugby league in the form of Paul Gallen autobiography HEART AND SOUL.

There is a risk that this book launch last week at Dymocks will be overshadowed by the recent boxing match entitled ‘The Code Wars’ between Room rugby league great Paul Gallen and Aussie Rules great Barry Hall.

The match resulted in a controversial draw and there is talk of a rematch.

I suspect that the fight may help book sales and the reviews may use boxing metaphors such as no holes barred and straight shooting.

But above all his rugby league career has been illustrious. Like the title of the book he has given his heart and soul for his club, his state and his country. As a long time captain of the Cronulla Sharks he led them to their very first premiership. He has led the New South Wales Blues to a long awaited win in the Store ate Of Origin series and he has played more than thirty tests for the Kangaroos.

There have also been lows when the Sharks were embroiled in a long running ASADA investigation into pep tide use. Throughout these issues Gallen is always bruisingly frank which may divide both the media and his fans.

Nonetheless his heart filled devotion go the code at all levels shines through.

 

 

 

EILEEN: STORIES FROM THE PHILLIP STREET COURTYARD

 

At 104 Eileen Kramer has led an incredible life, some of which is vividly evoked in this book.

Born in Sydney in 1914, Kramer was an original member of Australia’s first modern dance company, the influential Bodenwieser Ballet, and has lived and danced everywhere from India to Paris, London and New York.

Eileen originally wanted to be an opera singer and studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. She came to dance relatively late in life, joining the Bodenwieser Ballet company, Australia’s first professional modern dance company, in 1940.

Sue Healey has produced a short film entitled Eileen about Kramer and she is regarded as a National Treasure by the Arts Health Institute .

Kramer left Australia in the 1950s, performing around the world and meeting contemporary artists who have gone down in history as legends – for example Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. In fact,  Armstrong taught her the twist in Paris!

Having travelled around the world for 60 years. Eileen returned to Australia permanently in 2014 at the age of 99. She wanted to hear the sound of a kookaburra and smell the gum trees again.

This is a relatively small book lavishly illustrated with both black and white photos as well as bold, colourful drawings by Kramer.

The book is divided into thirty four chapters, with an introduction by Tracey Spring. Each chapter is about a specific memory of a person or particular event, mainly spanning the five years of her life as a young woman from 1936 to 1940 when she lived at or near Philip St

It is vividly written one feels as if Kramer is talking directly to the reader. The book is beautifully presented and includes a table of contents at the front, as well as a list of photo credits at the back. Sadly there is no index provided at the back.

The many people written about include Rosaleen Norton, who would go on to become the ‘Witch of Kings Cross’, the learned and rather enigmatic Joan, and the beautiful model, Ann. Life in the area is described , and how the cityscape has changed greatly.( Not to mention her battles with bedbugs).

There is also a marvellous word portrait of her landlady and others as well as the homeless men who inhabited the Domain ( the ‘Domain Dossers ‘ ).As well,  there is a segment on her mother working as a store detective at Farmers.

We learn about Kramer’s private life to a degree and her relationships with three men over time in particular – Dr Richard Want , Darley and painter Rah Fizelle.

Kramer became a professional artist’s model, sitting for Norman Lindsey and other modern painters of Sydney. (A glamorous black and white photo is included ).Eileen’s first boyfriend, Dr Want , was a Freudian psychoanalyst and they would spend their Sundays at the Art Gallery of NSW and Speakers Corner at the Domain.

Many dancers and theatre people from the 1930s and 1940s remember Sydney’s Phillip Street as a place where they lived, including ballerina Tamara Tchinarova Finch who lived in a Phillip Street apartment with her mother when they decided to stay in Australia in 1939 after the tour by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet.

Dance lovers will be tantalised by the mentions towards the end of the book about Kramer’s discovery of and work with Bodenweiser … but there is lots more to be said – perhaps expanded into a second book focusing on that major part of her life ? At 104 Kramer is perhaps the longest-working dancer and choreographer in Australia, if not the globe , still going strong and an enormous inspirational force.

https://www.melbournebooks.com.au/products/eileen

Published by Melbourne Books
www.melbournebooks.com.au
B format 139x210mm Hard cover with cloth quarter bind
206 pages colour illustrations throughout
RRP: AUD$39.95 ISBN: 9781925556391

 

SHANE WARNE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY : NO SPIN

To some Australians Shane Warne is a legend but others see him as deeply flawed. To set the record straight  and dispel some of these  views, Shane Warne has written his pull no punches autobiography, NO SPIN. Some will be interested in his cricketing career including the co called Ball Of The Century to dismiss Mike Gatting as well as his history making 700th Test wicket. The  Sultan of Spin also sheds light on the art of leg-spin bowling, unveiling how he delivered some of his most potent deliveries.

Then there is the other Shane Warne, with scandal involving the use of a diuretic pill in South Africa, and allegations of links to Indian cricket betting. After pledging  that he would not smoke there is the busting of this pledge by a schoolboy. There are his hair restorative commercials and of-course his magazine page filling relationship with Elizabeth Hurley. Shane Warne’s book does not shy away from  any of these controversies, facing them head-on. Continue reading SHANE WARNE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY : NO SPIN

STARS ON STAGE : A CONVERSATION WITH REG LIVERMORE

 

On a hot Sydney weekend afternoon in November fans of a near-octogenarian queued for the signing of his latest book. Stars on Stage A Conversation with Reg Livermore saw Reg Livermore return to The Independent Theatre to talk about the book and his life with ABC Radio presenter James Valentine. It was at the Independent Theatre that Reg Livermore did theatre training as a schoolboy. The two of them appeared relaxed as they conversed about life stages and the stages on which Reg had appeared in his career from early teens until now. These aspects appear in Stages – Reg Livermore A Memoir (Hardie Grant Books, 2018).

A true legend of Australian Theatre, from serious drama to cabaret and more, Reg Livermore has received more than a dozen major awards. He has been a performer, writer, designer and director and appeared on television. In the last few years, he has received three lifetime achievement awards.

In conversation, Reg reflected on some of the relationships, triumphs and tragedies that have shaped him both as a person and performer. Ensuring that he was speaking directly to the audience, Reg appeared variously energetic, sparkling, reflective, matter-of-fact and opinionated. Clearly he demonstrated that he is a person to be respected and listened to if one is at all interested in Australian theatre of the last 66 years and curious about possible life lessons as well as theatrical ones. He did not shy away from failure, had felt its sting and accepted it as part of life. He accepts failure but owns his triumphs. This may be key to his theatrical longevity. Continue reading STARS ON STAGE : A CONVERSATION WITH REG LIVERMORE

WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

Just finished reading WORKING CLASS BOY the first instalment of the story of James Dixon Swan, aka – Jimmy Barnes. As usual I am about six months behind the times, the book was published to much fanfare last year, ironically when Barnsey was doing publicity for the book at various venues in Sydney I was in Glasgow. In a pub, about ten minutes from Cowcaddens, the rough area that Barnes lived in until the age of five.  That’s just how life is sometimes, but back to the real story.

Barnes’ home life in both Glasgow and Elizabeth, SA (where he spent most of his youth) was shambolic, the family lived in poverty and violence was commonplace. The stories he tells make your hair stand on end, the two bottles of vodka a day that became a regular feature of his later life start making sense. His substance abuse was not the usual garden variety abuse of the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll crowd. Barnes was in need of more anesthetizing, to banish the memories of his troubled upbringing. Yet he tells it with such candour and humour that the reader is drawn in to the grey streets of Glasgow and South Australia willingly and we are happy to take the journey with him, and to some pretty dark places. Continue reading WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

BRITISH WRITER AND CRITIC A.A.GILL POURS OUT HIS LIFE INTO A BOOK

Pour Me
The author at his writing desk. Photo credit- JEREMY YOUNG/REX SHUTTERSTOCK

“There was a green carpet…the colour of algae, the damp green of penicillin. I remember how it smelt, it was like a living thing, the pelt of something that hid terrified and shivering. The bed was big. It smelt like it had been having rough, non consensual sex with the carpet.”

Such are the real estate reminiscence of A.A.Gill’s early digs when he was an alcohol addled student painter. Such is the tone of his memoir, POUR ME : A LIFE.

One of the reasons of writing the book of his life, Gill assures us, is that he can’t really remember any of it – childhood, school, holidays, friends, drinking.

The act of writing, of tapping keys, might jog something, lead back to clues, digging a hole to discover his young self. Continue reading BRITISH WRITER AND CRITIC A.A.GILL POURS OUT HIS LIFE INTO A BOOK