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Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

they want a happy ending

In Film on December 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Charles Waterstreet has weighed into the debate on the state of Australian filmmaking, sparked by Louis Nowra’s essay in The Monthly. He echoes my sentiments in his closing paragraphs, about the struggle between art and commerce:

Nowra is partly right, commercially, but let’s leave it to Hollywood to make rubbish like Zombieland and other so-called entertainment and gorge on money while we write, act and tell our stories that enrich our inner and outer lives, enlighten others and engage in a dialogue with the world.

A life is not measured by the finances one accrues. The spirit of a country is not reflected in the box office but is shown from a magic box. A single creative success is worth 99 commercial failures in this lucky country.

He cites Disgrace, the screen adaption of the Booker Prize-winning novel by J.M. Coetzee, as a puzzling case in point. The film was a critical success overseas, yet the local box office figures were less than impressive, and the film did not get a look-in at the IF or AFI awards. Waterstreet notes, “what is unforgivable about the lack of recognition for Disgrace is that it didn’t even rate a mention in Louis Nowra’s mammoth critical essay”. Indeed. A glaring omission on Nowra’s part. But somehow I imagine Nowra would dump Disgrace in his “bleak” basket. It’s those real life issues, you see.

The comments below Waterstreet’s article, however, made me feel distinctly out-of-touch. Apparently the paying public want “uplifting” entertainment, and any film “served up as worthy art” will be regarded with suspicion, the domain of “aristocrats” with “berets, baguettes and BAs”.

Let’s let Bill 258 from Blackburn take us out…

Who wants to pay $20 to see petrol-sniffing aboriginals with no future on a Saturday night for entertainment. Australian films generally are bleak, boring and oh so worthy. It is no wonder normal Australian’s avoid these films like the plague.


nine nominations, eight hours long

In Theatre on December 29, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Leading the nominees for the 2009 Sydney Theatre Awards is the epic eight-hour Sydney Theatre Company/Sydney Festival production of The War of the Roses. The final work of the STC Actors Company, it has received nine nominations, including Best Mainstage Production, Best Director (Benedict Andrews), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Cate Blanchett), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Pamela Rabe), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ewen Leslie), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Gaden), Best Set Design (Robert Cousins), Best Costume Design (Alice Babidge) and Best Lighting Design (Nick Schlieper).

The Sydney Theatre Company productions A Streetcar Named Desire and When the Rain Stops Falling picked up five and six nomination, marking a prosperous year under new artistic directors, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton.

The Awards, to be presented on Monday January 18, 2010, are run by a group of theatre critics to recognise achievement in theatre in Sydney. The panel consists of Jason Blake (Sydney Morning Herald), Deborah Jones (The Australian), Alex Lalak (Daily Telegraph), Jo Litson (The Sunday Telegraph), John McCallum (The Australian), Diana Simmonds (Stagenoise) and John Shand (Sydney Morning Herald).

And the nominees are…


Happy Days (Company B)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Sydney Theatre Company)
The War of the Roses (Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Festival)
When the Rain Stops Falling (Sydney Theatre Company and Brink Productions)


Beyond the Neck (Bambina Borracha Productions in association with B Sharp)
The Bougainville Photoplay Project (Version 1.0 in association with the Tamarama Rock Surfers)
Norm & Ahmed/ Shafana & Aunt Sarrinah (Alex Buzo Company)
The Only Child (The Hayloft Project in association with B Sharp)


Benedict Andrews (The City)
Benedict Andrews (The War of the Roses)
Chris Drummond (When the Rain Stops Falling)
Marion Potts (Venus and Adonis)

Cate Blanchett (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Cate Blanchett (The War of the Roses)
Julie Forsyth (Happy Days)
Pamela Rabe (The War of the Roses)


Joel Edgerton (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Darren Gilshenan (Strange Attractor)
Ewen Leslie (The War of the Roses)
Ben Winspear (Baghdad Wedding)


Blazey Best (Strange Attractor)
Anita Hegh (The City)
Kris McQuade (When the Rain Stops Falling)
Kerry Walker (The Man From Mukinupin)


Gareth Davies (The Only Child)
John Gaden (The War of the Roses)
Yalin Ozucelik (Baghdad Wedding)
Tim Richards (A Streetcar Named Desire)


Beyond the Neck (Tom Holloway)
The Only Child (Simon Stone with Thomas Henning)
Savage River (Steve Rodgers)
When the Rain Stops Falling (Andrew Bovell)


Travis Cardona (Savage River)
Josh McConville (The Call + Strange Attractor)
Susie Mathers (Mamma Mia!)


Robert Cousins (The War of the Roses)
Michael Scott Mitchell (Travesties)
Anna Tregloan (Venis and Adonis)
Hossein Valamanesh (When the Rain Stops Falling)


Alice Babidge (War of the Roses)
Julie Lynch (Travesties)
Bruce McKinven (The Alchemist)
Tess Schofield (The Wonderful World of Dissocia)


Paul Jackson (Happy Days)
Paul Jackson (The Telltale Heart)
Niklas Pajanti (When the Rain Stops Falling)
Nick Schlieper (The War of the Roses)


Paul Charlier (A Streetcar Named Desire)
David Franzke (The Wonderful World of Dissocia)
Alan John (The City)


Avenue Q
Jerry Springer The Opera


Lucy Durack (Wicked)
Amanda Harrison (Wicked)
Sharon Millerchip (Chicago)
Caroline O’Connor (Chicago)


Damien Bermingham (Chicago)
Mitchell Butel (Avenue Q)
Luke Joslin (Avenue Q)
James Millar (Gutenberg the Musical)


Red Hot and Saucy – Rhonda Burchmore (Civic Cabaret)
Meow to the World: Crisis is Born (Sydney Opera House)
‘Tegrity: Britney Spears in Cabaret – Christie Whelan (Raval)
Tim Draxl – Under the Influence (Supper Club)


The Gruffalo (Christine Dunstan Productions)
The Nargun and the Stars (Erth and Sydney Festival)
The Wizard of Oz (Windmill and Sydney Theatre Company)

loving the lost book

In Literature on December 23, 2009 at 7:38 pm

“Yes: but aren’t love and marriage notoriously synonymous in the minds of most women? Certainly very few men get the first without promising the second: love, that is – if it’s just a matter of spreading her legs, almost any woman will do that for nothing.”

My copy of Truman Capote’s Summer Crossing is now little more than a sandy, soggy mess. This slim volume accompanied me to the beach yesterday, and after a few hours of avid reading, interspersed with some languid swims, the oppressive New York summer of 1945 and a sultry Sydney December seemed a world apart. This is the story of a wealthy young socialite, Grady, alone in her parents’ penthouse for the summer; what begins as a heady romance with the Brooklyn-born parking attendant, Clyde, quickly descends into a claustrophobic and ultimately tragic affair. Truman vividly evokes the emotions, doubts and fears of the characters, seemingly interwoven with the intense heatwave that envelops the city.

This novella was thought to have been abandoned by the author in 1944, only to be uncovered some 50 years later as a complete manuscript. The luminous writing and refined narrative are as evident in this early work as in Capote’s later classics In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

you’re a nice bit of chocolate

In Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander, Film on December 22, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Fifty years after the death of the influential Australian filmmaker, Charles Chauvel, the cinema bearing his name held a restrospective of his work. Closing night featured his groundbreaking film, Jedda (1955), the story of an Aboriginal baby raised on a cattle station by a white woman, sheltered from her own culture and customs until she is abducted by a young Aboriginal man. It was the first fully-Australian funded colour feature film, and Charles Chauvel’s tenth and last feature. It starred Anmatjere woman Ngarla Kunoth (now known as Rosalie Kunoth-Monks) as Jedda, and Robert Tudawali, an Aboriginal man from Melville Island, as Jedda’s captor, Marbuck.

It was one of the first films to explore the emotional lives of Aboriginals seriously, and emerged at a time when assimilation was the prevailing belief in race politics. It is particularly interesting, some 54 years later, to see how this belief played out in Australian cinema. The station owner, Doug McMann, stresses that “wildness” is inherit to Aboriginals, and that attempts to “tame” them are futile. Without speculating on Chauvel’s intentions, we could read from this the notion that races should be kept apart.

Perhaps a sign of the difficulty in casting indigenous actors at the time, head stockman Joe, Jedda’s half-caste fiancé, was played by Paul Reynall, a third generation Italian. Indeed, casting the role of Jedda took a long time. The very shy Rosalie Kunoth was discovered at St. Mary’s Hostel in Alice Springs, and was reportedly reluctant to be photographed, let alone to act her scenes.

Her extraordinary life was captured in an interview with Andrew Denton for ABC’s Elders, last week.

And below, some interesting Jedda-related links!

  1. Jedda from australianscreen
  2. Chauvel’s Jedda led the way from The Age, December 15, 2004
  3. True colours from The Age, January 8, 2005

reading list 2010

In Literature on December 22, 2009 at 1:02 am

“I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
And falls on the other.”

While I shall not be making any new year’s resolutions this year – primarily so that I can mock others when they inevitably fail – I am trying something new: a reading list! It may just be my obsession with lists that has inspired this idea, because the process has thus far been VERY enjoyable. Perhaps more so than the – more disciplined – act of reading. Nevertheless, I can not be said to be in want of ambition, and below I present a list of books that will guide my reading for 2010. I am aiming to read 21 books next year, or approximately one per fortnight. Perhaps setting myself up for an epic failure, I will quote the wise ex-NSW premier, Mr. Rees: “I’ll give it a red-hot go”!


Adams, Glenda, Dancing on Coral
Amis, Martin, London Fields
Astley, Thea, The Acolyte
Atwood, Margaret, The Blind Assassin
Banks, Iain, The Crow Road
Beckett, Samuel, Murphy
Bellow, Saul, Herzog
Bernhard, Thomas, Yes
Böll, Heinrich, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
Brontë, Emily, Wuthering Heights
Brooks, Geraldine, People of the Book
Burroughs, William, Junkie
Byatt, A.S., Possession
Calvino, Italo, Invisible Cities
Camus, Albert, The Plague
Capote, Truman, In Cold Blood
Carey, Peter, Bliss
Carey, Peter, My Life as a Fake
Carey, Peter, Oscar and Lucinda
Carroll, Steven, The Time we have Taken
Carver, Raymond, Cathedral
Castro, Brian, The Bath Fuges
Chandler, Raymond, The Long Goodbye
Coetzee, J.M., Elizabeth Costello
Coetzee, J.M., Summertime
Coetzee, J.M., The Life and Times of Michael K
de Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel, Don Quixote
de Sade, Marquis, Justine
DeLillo, Don, The Body Artist
Doctorow, E.L., Billy Bathgate
Dostoevsky, Fyodor, Crime and Punishment
Easton Ellis, Bret, American Psycho
Eco, Umberto, The Name of the Rose
Eliot, George, Adam Bede
Eugenides, Jeffrey, Middlesex
Faulkner, William, The Hamlet
Fielding, Henry, Amelia
Fitzgerald, F. Scott, Tender is the Night
Flanagan, Richard, Sound of One Hand Clapping
Foer, Jonathan Safran, Everything is Illuminated
Forster, E.M., A Passage to India
Fowles, John, A Maggot
Garner, Helen, The First Stone
Gide, André, The Immoralist
Grass, Günter, The Tin Drum
Green, Henry, Party Going
Greene, Graham, The Quiet American
Grenville, Kate, Dark Places
Grenville, Kate, The Secret River
Hamsun, Knut, Hunger
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The Scarlet Letter
Hemingway, Ernest, To Have and Have Not
Herbert, Xavier, Capricornia
Hesse, Herman, Steppenwolf
Horne, Donald, The Lucky Country
Houellebecq, Michael, Platform
Huxley, Aldous, Antic Hay
Isherwood, Christopher, The Last of Mr. Norris
Ishiguro, Kazuo, Remains of the Day
Jolley, Elizabeth, Cabin Fever
Joyce, James, Ulysses
Kafka, Franz, The Trial
Keneally, Thomas, Three Cheers for the Paraclete
Kennedy, Cate, The World Beneath
Kundera, Milan, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Kureishi, Hanif, The Buddha of Suburbia
Lawrence, D.H., Kangaroo
Lawrence, D.H., Sons and Lovers
Le Clezio, J.M.G, The Flood
Lessing, Doris, The Grass is Singing
Lewis, Wyndham, The Apes of God
Malouf, David, Ransom
Mann, Thomas, Death in Venice
Mansfield, Katherine, The Garden Party
Márquez, Gabriel García, Love in the Time of Cholera
Márquez, Gabriel García, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Maugham, William, Of Human Bondage
McCullough, Colleen, Thorn Birds
Miller, Alex, The Ancestor Game
Miller, Henry, Tropic of Cancer
Mitford, Nancy, Love in a Cold Climate
Morrison, Toni, Song of Solomon
Munro, Alice, Too Much Happiness
O’Brien, Flann, The Poor Mouth
Oates, Joyce, Black Water
Ondaatje, Michael, The English Patient
Pamuk, Orhan, Museum of Innocence
Sartre, Jean-Paul, Nausea
Scott, Kim, Benang
Stow, Randolph, To the Islands
Süskind, Patrick, The Pigeon
Thompson, Hunter S., Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Tolstoy, Leo, Anna Karenina
Toltz, Steve, A Fraction of the Whole
Updike, John, Rabbit, Run
Wharton, Edith, The Age of Innocence
White, Edmund, The Beautiful Room is Empty
Woolf, Virginia, Night and Day
Woolf, Virginia, To The Lighthouse
Wright, Alexis, Carpentaria
Zuzak, Markus, The Book Thief


Beveridge, Judith, Storm and Honey
Plath, Sylvia, Ariel
Porter, Dorothy, The Monkey’s Mask


Grimwade, Steve, Literary Melbourne

away! away! for I will fly to thee

In Film, Poetry on December 18, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Sitting in the cinema tonight, I think my heart broke a thousand times over. Jane Campion’s Bright Star is an absolute treasure. In place of a commentary, please accept this piece of poetic perfection. Then hurry along to the cinema.

Ode to a Nightingale

MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
’Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
And mid-May’s eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toil me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

John Keats, 1819


In Poetry on December 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm

The Sisters

In the vine-shadows on the veranda;
under the yellow leaves, in the cooling sun,
sit two sisters. Their slow voices run
like little winter creeks, dwindled by frost and wind,
and the square of sunlight moves on the veranda.

They remember the gay young men on their tall horses
who came courting; the dancing and the smells of leather
and wine, the girls whispering by the fire together;
even their dolls and ponies, all they have left behind
moves in the yellow shadows on the veranda.

Thinking of their lives apart and the men they married
thinking  of the marriage-bed and the birth of their first
they look down smiling. “My life was wide and wild,
and who can know my heart? There in that golden jungle
I walk alone,” say the old sisters on the veranda.

Judith Wright, 1949

meet the resos

In Theatre on December 17, 2009 at 10:13 pm

The Sydney Theatre Company’s new permanent ensemble of actors commenced work at The Wharf in June 2009. The Residents – Alice Ansara, Cameron Goodall, Ursula Mills, Julia Ohannessian, Zindzi Okenyo, Richard Pyros, Sophie Ross, Tahki Saul and Brett Stiller – work across all aspects of the Company, with a particular focus on the development of theatre. This group of nine young, multi-talented performers replaces the original STC Actors Company, established by former artistic director Robyn Nevin. In 2009, The Residents presented their first Main Stage production, The Mysteries: Genesis, collaborating with directors Tom Wright, Andrew Upton and Matthew Lutton, and playwrights Hilary Bell and Lally Katz, to realise a contemporary translation of the Genesis stories of the Bible. Brett, Ursula, Julia, Cameron, Tahki and Richard participated in the company’s education program in 2009 in a performance of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist.

In 2010, in addition to performing in Oresteia as part of the Main Stage Season, they will continue to work with the Next Stage, Back Stage and STC Ed programs. In March, the Residents will team up with Adelaide’s The Border Project (Highway Rock’n’Roll Disaster) to perform Vs Macbeth, a radical new version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The residents are:

Alice Ansara

Alice grew up in a family of doumentary film makers and has worked in film and TV both as an actor and in production. For Sydney Theatre Company: Backstage with The Residents (Back Stage), The Magic Flute (Rough Draft). For Bell Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice. For Griffin: Arabian Night. For Monkey Baa Theatre for Young People: Pearlie in the Park. Film: Breaking Through, La Spagnola, Rosebery 7470, Nude Study. TV: Bogan Pride. Awards: AFI Award/Critic Circle Awards – Best Actress nomination for La Spagnola. Best Actress, Melbourne Underground Film Festival for Rosebery 7470. Training: WAAPA

Cameron Goodall

For Sydney Theatre Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist (STC Ed), Highway Rock’n’Roll Disaster (Next Stage/Border Project), The Clockwork Forest (STC Ed/Brink), The Snow Queen (STC Ed/Windmill). Other theatre: Cameron has worked extensively in theatre for Australia’s major companies. As a founding member of The Border Project, he has co-created and performed in Highway Rock’n’Roll Disaster, Trouble on Planet Earch, Please Go Hop! and MedeaMaterial. Awards: Helpmann Award nominations for Best Actor for Hamlet (STCSA/QTC) and Best Supporting Actor for The Goat, or, Who Is Sylvia? (STCSA/Belvoir), Oscart and Adelaide Critics Circle Awards for Best Actor. Other: Cameron has worked as a reporter for Behind the News (ABC), won an ARIA award with his previous band The Audreys, is a member of Brink Productions. Training: Cameron graduated from Flinders Drama Centre in 2000.

Ursula Mills

For Sydney Theatre Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist (STC Ed), Rough Draft #2 (Next Stage). For WAAPA: The Pagans, King Lear, Mad Forest, Fabiola, Briefs, A Month in the Country, The London Cuckolds, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Before I Get Old, Riders to the Sea. For RASA: Cymbeline. Film: Peter Pan. Short Film: Remedy, Anabel, Dead Weight. Radio Play: A Home Improvement (ABC). TV: Out of the Blue. Training: RADA (Shakespeare), WAAPA 2006.

Zindzi Okenyo

For Sydney Theatre Company: Backstage with The Residents (Back Stage), The Crucible (STC Ed), The Vertical Hour. For Company B: Scorched. For NIDA: The Laramie Project, The Attic, Love’s Labours Lost, Three Sisters. Training: NIDA.

Julia Ohannessian

For Sydney Theatre Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist (STC Ed), Rough Draft #2 (Next Stage), The Lost Echo, Brecht Workshop (STC Ed). For CPA: Brilliant Lies. For NIDA: Top Girls, Cosi, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Seagull, Hamlet, Once on this Island, Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, Sweet Charity, Some Girls, Attempts on her Life, Memory of Water. For Glass Umbrella Productions: Cherry Smoke. For 504 Productions: Risky Lunar Love. For Short and Sweet: Hard Core. TV: East West 101. Training: NIDA.

Richard Pyros

For Sydney Theatre Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist (STC Ed), Woman in Mind. For Societas Raffaello Sanzio/Barbican Theatre BITE09: Inferno. For The Arches Theatre, Glasgow: Amada. For Hebbel Am Ufer, Berlin: The Crumb-trail. For Societas Raffaello Sanzio: Hey Girl. For Melbourne Festival/Barbican BITE07/ASSITE3: Gilgamesh. For Arcola Theatre, London: The Minaturists (At Sea). For Lyric Hammersmith, London: Coyote Canyon. For Camden People’s Theatre, London: Scenes of a Massacre. For Malthouse: A View of Concrete. For Bell Shakespeare: The Two Gentlemen of Verona. For A Poor Theatre: Hamlet. For Melbourne Festival: Remembrance of Things Past. For Wentworth Arts Festival: Romeo & Juliet. Film: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Noise. TV: Big Bite, Stand Up Australia. Awards: Irene Mitchell (VCA). Training: VCA.

Sophie Ross

For Sydney Theatre Company: Backstage with The Residents (Back Stage), Woman in Mind, Waikiki Hip (Wharf 2LOUD), Romeo & Juliet (STC Ed). For Griffin Independent: Stoning Mary. For Small Things Productions/B Sharp: Ladybird. Workshop Production: Summerfolk. TV: All Saints (2007). Film: The Jammed, Closed for Winter. Other: Sophie co-founded Small Things Productions in 2008 and subsequently co-produced and performed in their first production, Ladybird, at Downstairs Belvoir, March 2009.

Tahki Saul

For Sydney Theatre Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist (STC Ed), Rough Draft #2 (Next Stage), The Lost Echo. For B Sharp: Bumming with Jane. For Company B: Baghdad Wedding. For NIDA: Ramayana, Electronic City, The Cherry Orchard, Once on this Island, Romeo & Juliet, Game of Love & Chance, Sweet Charity, Attempts on her Life. Film: Behind the Eight Ball, Cupid (finalist for Palm Springs Film Festival in LA 2009), Globe virtue. TV: Out of the Blue. Radio: Electronic City, The Trial of Lucullus. Training: NIDA 2007.

Brett Stiller

For Sydney Theatre Company: The Miser, Falsettos, Stag (Wharf 2LOUD), Accidental Death of an Anarchist (STC Ed), Rough Draft #2 (Next Stage). For Griffin Theatre Company: Don’t Say the Words, Holding the Man, Strangers in Between, Borderlines. For Melbourne Theatre Company: Holding the Man. For Company B: Holding the Man. For Glen Street Theatre: Bash – Latterday Plays. For Theatre Nepean: The Man from Mukinupin, Richard II, Traitors, Playboy of the Western World, Alice’s Adventures Underground. Film: Travelling Light, Garage Days. Short Film: Checkpoint, The Manual, Still Life, The Visitor. TV: Packed to the Rafters, City Homicide, The Alice (Series 1), The Alice (Telemovie), All Saints, The Postcard Bandit, Farscape, Water Rats. Training: Theatre Nepean 2000, Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute New York 2007.

toby schmitz

In Theatre on December 16, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Toby Schmitz (b. 1977) graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1999. He acts, writes and directs for theatre, film and television.

Acting credits include:


Sydney Theatre Company The Great Man (2000), The School for Scandal (2001), Hanging Man (2002), Major Barbara (2003), Self Esteem (2007), The Great (2008), Rabbit (2008), Travesties (2009). Griffin Theatre Company The Boyce Trilogy: The Woman with Dog’s Eyes (2004), The Marvellous Boy (2005), The Emperor of Sydney (2006). Company B Ruben Guthrie (2009). B Sharp dreamalittledreamalittle (2000), Ruben Guthrie (2008), The Lonesome West (2009). Tamarama Rock Surfers Men (2000), One Thumb Out (2002), Fifteen – And then some (2004), Cunt Pi (2005).


Griff the Invisible (2010), Agoraphobia in the Desert of the Real (2009), Three Blind Mice (2009), The Heist (2007), My Last Ten Hours with You (2007), Emulsion (2006), Solo (2006), Somersault (2004), Right Here, Right Now (2004), The Rage in Placid Lake (2003).


City Homicide, Home and Away, McLeod’s Daughters, The Heartbreak Tour, The Cooks, White Collar Blue, Water Rats, Fat Cow Motel, The Pacific.

Directing credits include:

A Boy’s Life (2000)
Fifteen – And then some (2004)
Work in Progress (2006)
Capture the Flag (2007)
This Is How It Goes (2008)

Playwriting credits include:

dreamalittledreamalittle (B Sharp)
Lucky (ATYP) – winner Patrick White Playwrights’ Award 2002
Chicks Will Dig You! (B Sharp) – winner New Dramatists Award 2004
Capture the Flag (Tamarama Rock Surfers)
This Blasted Earth, with Travis Cotton and Tim Minchin (Tamarama Rock Surfers)
Pan (B Sharp)
Cunt Pi (Tamarama Rock Surfers)
Fifteen – And then some (Tamarama Rock Surfers)
Grazing the Phosphorus (NIDA)
The Point of the Story (Tamarama Rock Surfers)

2009 at the theatre

In Theatre on December 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm

More for my own records rather that something with wider appeal, I present here a list of my theatre attendances in 2009. I have an awful memory for actors’ faces and always find it useful to refer back to the cast of previous productions. With further lists, I may also be able to track work I find particularly interesting in direction and set design.

Now for a little awards ceremony. My prize for Best Writing goes to Brendan Cowell for Ruben Guthrie. I was compelled to purchase the script so I could pour over the witty one-liners and delightful monologues again and again. I was mesmerized by Michael Kantor’s production of Beckett’s Happy Days, and Best Direction he is awarded thus. It was an exquisitely faithful yet fresh interpretation of the absurdist play, with a nod towards the vicious effects of climate change. I have witnessed so many outstanding performances this year, most notably Julie Forsyth’s Winnie in Happy Days and Toby Schmitz as Dadaist Tristin Tzara in Travesties. Forsyth’s impeccable comic timing and  irresistibly supple face rendered a truly unforgettable performance. Schmitz is cheeky and energetic, and his mastery of Stoppard’s characteristic verbal gymnastics made me sit up and listen: he’s truly one to watch.

To the plays…

Sydney Theatre Company

The Removalists
by David Williamson
Opened 31 Jan 09
Director Wayne Blair
Set/Costume Designer Jacob Nash
Lighting Designer Luiz Pampolha
Composer/Sound Designer Steve Francis
Fight Director Nigel Poulton
With Danny Adcock, Alan Flower, Sacha Horler, Ashley Lyons, Dale March, Eve Morey

by Tom Stoppard
Opened 09 Mar 09
Director Richard Cottrell
Set Designer Michael Scott Mitchell
Costume Designer Julie Lynch
Lighting Designer Bernie Tan
Composer/Sound Designer Paul Charlier
Choreographer Pamela French
With Robert Alexander, Blazey Best, Jonathan Biggins, Peter Houghton, Rebecca Massey, Toby Schmitz, Wendy Strehlow, William Zappa

by Franz Kafka
Opened 22 Apr 09
Adapted & Directed by David Farr and Gísli Örn Gardarsson
Music Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Design Börkur Jónsson
Lighting Björn Helgason
With Edda Arnljótsdóttir, Jonathan Mcguiness, Ingvar E Sigurdsson, Unnur Ösp Stefánsdóttir, Björn Thors

Based on a novel by Ingvar Ambjørnsen
Stage adaptation by Axel Hellstenius & Petter Næss
Translated by Nicholas Norris
Adapted by Simon Bent

Opened 30 May 09
Director Pamela Rabe
Set Designer Michael Scott-Mitchell
Costume Designer Tess Schofield
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Sound Designer Max Lyandvert
With Darren Gilshenan, Glenn Hazeldine, Lachy Hulme, Yael Stone, Frank Whitten

The City
by Martin Crimp
Opened 29 Jun 09
Director Benedict Andrews
Set Designer Ralph Myers
Costume Designer Fiona Crombie
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Composer Alan John
With Georgia Bowrey, Anita Hegh, Belinda McClory, Colin Moody, Gigi Perry

Poor Boy
A play with songs by Matt Cameron and Tim Finn
Opened 06 Jul 09
Director Simon Phillips
Musical Director Ian Mcdonald
Set Designer Iain Aitken
Costume Designer Adrienne Chisholm
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Assistant Director Naomi Edwards
Associate Musical Director Mathew Frank
Associate Lighting Designer Chris Twyman
Dramaturg Aidan Fennessy
With Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke, Linda Cropper, Matt Dyktynski, Sara Gleeson, Matthew Newton, Sarah Peirse, Jed Rosenberg, Greg Stone, Abi Tucker

Saturn’s Return
by Tommy Murphy
Opened 24 Jul 09
Director David Berthold
Designer Adam Gardnir
Lighting Designer Luiz Pampolha
Sound Designer/Composer Basil Hogios
With Toby Moore, Leeanna Walsman, Matthew Zeremes

A Streetcar Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams
Opened 01 Sep 09
Director Liv Ullmann
Set Designer Ralph Myers
Costume Designer Tess Schofield
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Sound Designer Paul Charlier
Assistant to the Director Einar Bjorge
With Cate Blanchett, Michael Denkha, Joel Edgerton, Elaine Hudson, Gertraud Ingeborg, Morgan David Jones, Russell Kiefel, Jason Klarwein, Mandy McElhinney, Robin McLeavy, Tim Richards, Sara Zwangobani and musician Alan John

Accidental Death of an Anarchist
By Dario Fo
Translated by Alan Cumming and Tim Supple

Opened 11 Sep 09
Director Stefo Nantsou
Set & Costume Designer Pip Runciman
Lighting Designer Verity Hampson
Sound Designer Steve Francis
With Cameron Goodall, Ursula Mills, Julia Ohannessian, Richard Pyros, Tahki Saul, Brett Stiller

God of Carnage
by Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Opened 03 Oct 09
Director Gale Edwards
Designer Brian Thomson
Costume Designer Julie Lynch
Lighting Designer Trudy Dalgleish
Composer & Sound Designer Paul Charlier
Assistant Director Kate Revz
With Russell Dykstra, Marcus Graham, Sacha Horler, Helen Thomson

The Mysteries: Genesis
In a new version by Hilary Bell and Lally Katz
Opened 20 Nov 09
Directors Matthew Lutton, Andrew Upton, Tom Wright
Designer Alice Babidge
Lighting Designer Paul Jackson
Sound Designer Kingsley Reeve
with The Residents

Company B

Ruben Guthrie
by Brendan Cowell
Opened 23 May 09
Director Wayne Blair
With Roy Billing, Megan Drury, Geoff Morrell, Torquil Neilson, Adrienne Pickering, Toni Scanlan and Toby Schmitz

The Promise
by Alexei Arbuzov
A new version by Nick Dear

Based on the translation by Ariadne Nicolaeff
Opened 11 Jul 09
Director Simon Stone
With Alison Bell, Ewen Leslie and Chris Ryan

B Sharp

The Lonesome West
by Martin McDonagh
Opened 20 Aug 09
Director Peter Carstairs
With Sibylla Budd, Travis Cotton, Ryan Johnson and Toby Schmitz

Tamarama Rock Surfers

Sydney Ghost Stories
by Lachlan Philpott, Rebecca Clarke, Stephen Sewell, Tobsha Learner, Toby Schmitz, Verity Laughton
Opened 25 Nov 09
Directors Katy Alexander, Dean Carey, Glenn Fraser, Toby Schmitz, Anthony Skuse
Lighting Design Matt Cox
Set Design Andrew Bowden
Costume Design Catherine Bonner
Sound Design/Composer Braedy Neal
With Catherine Terracini, Jamie Irvine, Jeneffa Soldatic, Joe Manning, Matt Walker, Jamie McGregor

Malthouse Theatre

Happy Days
by Samuel Beckett
Opened 3 July 09
Director Michael Kantor
Set and Costume Designer Anna Cordingley
Lighting Designer Paul Jackson
Sound Russell Goldsmith
With Peter Carroll & Julie Forsyth

Sydney Festival 2009

The Tell-Tale Heart
Adapted and directed by Barry Kosky after Edgar Allan Poe
Opened 18 Jan 09
Set and Costume Design Anna Tregloan
Lighting Paul Jackson
Original Music by Barrie Kosky with songs by Bach, Purcell and Wolf
With Martin Niedermair and Barrie Kosky

The Yalta Game
By Brian Friel after Anton Chekhov
Opened 19 Jan 09