The Sydney Theatre Company 2015 Season

So I’m just home after the subscriber briefing and season launch for the Sydney Theatre Company.

First some organisational criticism (let’s get the small pains over early). We are all told to be there early to pick up tickets because it will start promptly at 5pm. Except that the doors to the theatre didn’t open till 5 minutes after 5, by which time people had been standing waiting by the doors for more than twenty minutes. Several of the older patrons were getting faint or ill being in a crowd over that time. As someone who is still post-operative a hip replacement my legs were getting tired from standing that long.

Second, Jessi and I intended to go to the Bar At The End Of The Wharf after the briefing for dinner and a drink (her 22nd birthday was the day before). We also saw at least a dozen more people doing the same. Unfortunately the Bar was closed for a private function. To make matters worse, while there was a sign at the top of the stairs to tell people there was no sign at either the top or bottom of the lift so people with movement difficulties had to walk all the way to the end of the wharf to find out. (Another unnecessary task for my new hip and easily tired legs.) So bad scheduling and bad signage guys.

Going to the subscriber briefing is great fun. Listening to Andrew Upton talk about the plays provides an excellent background. He tells you why a particular play, where it might sit in a playwright’s works, how he managed to get Hugo Weaving back for more Beckett. Then there is the excitement of discovering the actors and directors that will be gracing the stage next year.

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Always First

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

A cup of coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.”

Life’s full of firsts. After all there is always the cliché “today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I’ve had a huge number of firsts that might qualify. I’ve just had a first day at a new job, I still have a number of memories of my first full day as a Dad.

However I’m going to choose another first. Tonight on the ABC the Agony Aunt program was about dating with some wonderful Australian women talking about first dates and first kisses so I’m going to talk about a few of those moments.

A first date. Two in particular stick in my mind strongly. One must have been a failure, though at the time it didn’t feel like it, and the second a success.

Firsts are always fraught with anxiety and I can’t think of any other first able to cause me more anxiety than a first date.

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A Thousand Words

Today’s Daily Prompt: “If you normally write non-fiction, post a photo. If you normally post images, write fiction. If you normally write fiction, write a poem. If you normally write poetry, draw a picture.”

I usually write non-fiction with the odd poem thrown in so I guess I need to post a photo. Should I take a new photo or use an old one?

I decided to open up iPhoto and have a quick scan and see what grabbed my attention. I ended up with three.

Here’s the first I found (you can click on them all to see them larger):


It’s a picture of the Newtown Festival from almost two years ago. I went the day before I flew out to Boston for Thanksgiving. It’s shot diagonally across Camperdown Park just by the stone wall to St Stephen’s Church and just out of shot in the distance is the house I lived in with my ex-wife.

Here’s the second:


This one is Fremont Street in Las Vegas. It’s where I met my brother and his wife on the way to Boston. I guess that makes it my second trip to Vegas but my first to Fremont Street.

Here’s the third:


This is a closeup of some “lace” made out of iron. There was a brilliant exhibition of all sorts of lace at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum and I took some great photos.

Life On The Move

A contemporary Tibetan nomadic tent near Namts...

A contemporary Tibetan nomadic tent near Namtso lake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?

What exactly is a “nomadic life”? If we take the literal meaning of nomadic then we mean a fairly simple, primitive life constantly on the move from one spot to the next. In a modern world we talk about “grey nomads”, retired people who spend a fair amount of the year in a mobile home travelling around.

There are also people who live a life a less simple who might be called “nomadic” who move from home to home across the globe. People with homes in Sydney, London and New York for example. Actors often have homes in Los Angeles and elsewhere moving between them as required. Modern musicians will also move from city to city to work with producers or to go to a specific studio, staying a few months and then moving on to various homes.

These are all, in their own way, nomadic lifestyles.

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A photo of an iconic picture. Arnold "Jack" Williams on the Bridge.

A photo of an iconic picture. Arnold “Jack” Williams on the Bridge.

I live in Sydney and in this town there are two things that can be described as “iconic” – when I was very young living a hundred miles north it was only one but then they built the Opera House. The first iconic landmark was the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Since 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge has joined the city of Sydney to the suburbs of the North Shore. It’s easily recognised not just for the central role it plays in transport — every New Year’s Eve it provides the focus for the first big fireworks display in the world with fireworks shooting up from it’s pylons and arch while more cascade from the deck.

A bridge across the harbour had long been dreamed of before it was finally built. Francis Greenway, a notable architect in the young colony of NSW, first proposed it in 1820. A century had to pass before construction started in 1922.

It was in 1928 that construction of the steel arch of the bridge started but by then Arnold “Jack” Williams had been a foreman rigger on the construction for just over a year. Jack wanted the high wages of the Bridge crew to support his wife and then his baby sons, in 1930 he was taking home twenty nine pounds a week when a carpenter, painter or plumber was getting four and a half.

By the time the bridge was opened on Saturday March 19, 1932 a lot had changed for Jack. He now had two small sons and his wife had left him, taking off to Perth with a sailor. He’d done well though, he was now a foreman rigger.

That Saturday was a big day, the culmination of years of work for many and Jack was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment at what he had helped achieve. Jack wanted to share that pride with his sons but Roy was still too young, Eric at three and a half might appreciate the celebrations so Jack made a decision. Eric would come along with Jack to the opening including the march by the workers across the Bridge before it opened.

Years later Eric didn’t remember anything about that day but he did remember his father telling him that Jack had carried him on his shoulders for the march. It was one of those family stories, the ones you’re never sure are real but you sure do want them to be true.

Eric did well for himself too. Jack had made sure that all three of his sons got a good education and Eric had risen high in the steel company that had given him a traineeship to put him through University and lived in a unit right on Sydney Harbour where you could see the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Then in 1982 there were celebrations for the Bridge’s 50th Anniversary including a documentary. In the documentary there was some film of the opening celebrations including that worker’s march. There, about half way along the marching workers, was a lean man in his early thirties carrying on his shoulders a small boy.

So I live in Sydney where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is more than iconic, it’s probably the most recognised landmark in the country. To me though it has a special place in my heart, after all my Grandad carried my Dad across it to celebrate the construction all those years ago.

This post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge entitled “Iconic”.

I Love Newtown’s Women

OK, you might think I’m just talking about all the young women, and certainly one of the pleasures is watching those young beauties but I appreciate more than that. The variety of women, the young the middle aged, the old, the anglo-saxon, the southern european, the middle eastern, the indigenous, the asian, the hipsters, the punks, the dykes and the inner city trendies.

I love the variety of clothing styles, from the cutting edge fashionable to the suburban it runs the full gamut. Men just don’t have that same variety, the same colour.

It’s not just the different clothes, it’s the different ways of being, the different ways of walking and standing, the different ways of sitting at the coffee shop tables and talking.

I’ve loved Newtown for almost thirty years since I first started living and working in the area in the early eighties. It has since that time been a melting pot. You can still see today, despite the gentrification of coffee shops and fashion stores, the bones of that down market inner city suburb in both some of the store fronts and some of those people walking along the streets. At the same time as the well off gays and inner city parents there are the students and other young people that obviously don’t have as much money.

So I sit at one of those coffee shop tables on King Street and watch the women sitting at the next table and walking past me. I love watching them all in their glorious variety. I love shopping at an IGA where one of the checkout workers is a middle age, southern european lady; one is a trendy with a severe fringe and arms covered in ink and a third looks like a young uni student with incredibly long dark lashes and pink, glittering eye shadow.

Newtown is one of the great suburbs in Sydney, well worth a visit for more than the shopping and the coffee. It’s the people and the culture that make it a standout place.

Brian again

So since the last time I mentioned Mr Eno I’ve been hit by the Brian stick twice again.

The first time was seeing David Byrne, who is touring the world promoting the album he and Eno released earlier this year. It had been a long, long time since seeing Talking Heads at a rock festival but Byrne and his music still impressed.

Now Brian Eno is curating an intriguing festival in Sydney. There is an installation of “77 Million Paintings”, a light show on the sails of the Opera House, some intriguing sounding lectures and marvelous sounding music.

If you will be in Sydney between late May and mid-June make sure you catch some of it. Details at the Luminous Festival website.