Arts Week

It’s Saturday morning in Sydney. Just woken up (it’s 10am) and already it seems like it’s going to be a warm day. I’ll just check the forecast. According to the Bureau of Meterology, It’s going to be 29 in Sydney and 35 in Richmond. Already seems much warmer. Anyhoo, just watching “Video Hits” on Channel 10 – where all the current releases appear to be cover versions – and I thought I’d take the chance to update you on my life over the last few days. Although Tuesday night (my usual television night with “The Bill”… and “Rove” has returned), was spent at home, the last few days and nights have been quite busy.

On Wednesday night, I went to see a play at the Newtown Theatre called, “The Nothing Men” which is being promoted as your chance to see the play before the movie is made. In some respects, there are thematic similarities with “The Full Monty” with its interest in the lives of a group of working class men facing redundancy, but there is a more dramatic side story, and one which is ultimately more important, which concerns a man caring for his child with a severe disability. According to the publicity blurb on their website

Mirage Entertainment began the journey of The Nothing Men in 1997, originally as a feature film script. It has since attracted national and international attention, receiving several grants from the Australian Film Commission.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens with the movie. I thought it was okay… not great… not awful. It was okay.

On Thursday, I went to see the exhibition, “Hung Drawn & Quartered”, which

reflects the progress gay men and lesbians have made over the last quarter century toward full social and legal equality. Artists were invited to show work which is representative of societal and cultural world in the 1970s and work which reflects the directions we are taking now.

And then on Thursday night, I went to a Mardi Gras event called “Rant”, held at the “Hollywood Hotel” in Surry Hills. The Hollywood is a great little pub, having transformed itself in the last couple of years from being a big alcoholic pub into an artsy kind of pub. RANT described itself as

a queer literary extravaganza. Ten authors, 10 texts, emerging and established voices. All border-dwellers who are stretching the limits of genre, generation, and the borders of the queerlit map.

I thought both events were okay… not great. Either I’m getting older and a little more consdervative or my tastes are maturing and “shock” doesn’t shock me anymore, but both events reinforced in my mind my annoyance that “gay and lesbian arts” dwell a little too much on the sexual. For a gay/lesbian audience, do so many of the works need to include references to genitalia? I understand all of the cultural arguments in this debate, and am happy to entertain those thoughts, but from my own perspective, it’s all a bit passe.

Also this week I went to “Politics In The Pub” at the Gaelic Club.

What is Politics in the Pub? We are people who characterise ourselves as “left” and “democratic” who have established a left politico cultural focus in Sydney to promote cross fertilisation and discussion. We are not establishing another political party. All are welcome, children too Discussion starts at 6pm and ceases promptly at 7.30pm. Dinner afterwards in the Pub opposite or in nearby restaurants.

I’m sure most of those who were there, over the age of 50, were former members of the Communist Party, as Damien and I heard several examples of “Cold War/Old Left Paranoia”. On entering the club, and signing in, as you do at a registered club, one woman said to us, quite seriously, “They’re making us sign in so the CIA can get a list of who we all are”. The crowd was, without doubt, the biggest they’ve ever had “Politics In The Pub” which, one bloke, behind us in the beer queue, bemoaned as “it’s ruined, there are too many people here. They’ve ruined it!”. A comment which I thought reaked of old left defeatism – that self-righteous “we’re the oppressed minority leading the vanguard fighting the Menzies…. err Howard Government”.

In all honesty, despite grave concerns about the war, the big drawcard for the evening was the actor, Judy Davis. She spoke eloquently, although a little reluctantly (she said) about her personal concerns about the war, about oil and American neo-imperialism The other bloke who spoke – can’t recall his name – discussed a number of interesting issues, in particular, notions about whether or not our blind observance of American and English foreign policy/a “mother/father figure”, is an endemic part of the Australian culture. It was interesting stuff.

From there it was off to see the play, “The Dock Brief” at the Ensemble Theatre. The blurb describes it as

A murderous comedy about the law. British writer and barrister, Sir John Mortimer, best known as creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, brings his legal insights to the stage in The Dock Brief, his most famous West End play and the inspiration for Rumpole of the Bailey. The play gives new meaning to the phrase “ineffective assistance of counsel‿?. Morgenhall is an unsuccessful barrister who has waited for years for the court to assign him a case. His first “dock brief‿? is the defence of the unfortunate Mr Fowle, the meek proprietor of a birdseed shop who has been charged with the murder of his wife because she saw humour in everything, and her raucous laughter and practical jokes finally drove him over the edge. Morgenhall is determined to give the courtroom performance of a lifetime although nothing prepares him, Fowle or the audience for the final twist in the plot.

As it’s a reasonably short play, Warren Mitchell returned for the second half in a series of jokes and anecdotes about life in the threatre. He was hillarious, interacting beautifully with the audience. Aged 77, Mitchell ended the show with the poem by Roger McGough, “Let Me Die A Young Man’s Death”. Unfortunately I can’t find a copy of the poem on the web, but I will endeavour to find a copy.

So that’s my life until now.

This afternoon, I’m going out for a few drinks and then tomorrow, it’s the big peace march.

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