Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets – Souvenir Program

img_2004A Note from writer/director NOEL ANDERSON – Welcome to ‘Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets’ online souvenir program. The program features a full synopsis and links to nearly all 14 original songs. It’s been ten years since I directed the one act play of  AHAICOA at Chapel Off Chapel. It ran just under an hour and had no music score. Today it is a full length musical. Over that time a lot of people have been part of Audrey’s journey. We currently have approx. 1600 followers on Facebook and our official music video ‘Travellers in Time’ has had 12,000 views on YouTube. It’s been a helluva ride, we’ve had our share of heartbreak too but there’s been affection along the way also, particularly from social media.  No love though from the Aussie cultural institutions, but we had a little ‘ financial assistance’ from Bendigo Bank for our first production in the Melba Spiegeltent a few years back.  Audrey’s themes are topical, growing up, family, falling out of love, and mental health. I know if everyone got to know ‘Audrey Hepburn the musical,’ and we could find a ‘bloody big time producer,’ they’d love her just as much as our leading lady ‘Liz O’Sullivan’ from suburban Melbourne does.  Curtain up, light the lights and enjoy the online souvenir program 😎

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets – Full Synopsis with Song Links
ACT 1.

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets

I believe in pink!

Overture   Brighton Beach Melbourne, Yesterday – Liz O’Sullivan sits glancing out on a beach full of colourful bathing boxes. She laments I Believe in PINK with Audrey Hepburn her imaginary friend, about growing up a woman in Australia and dreams of being a Hollywood star, loved by everyone. Her fiancée, Len from Collingwood, arrives with Liz’s family and they try to persuade her to accept Len’s hand in marriage. Liz cracks under the pressure of everyone watching and waiting for her to answer, so Liz’s father pays for Liz to go to therapy for a year.  Watching me

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our AssetsLiz meets her therapist Rod, who has the looks of a movie star. During her first therapy session, Liz is constantly interrupted by voices in her head, one of them is Audrey Hepburn, who behaves like one of the characters from famous movies – ‘My Fair Lady, A Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’  Rod wonders just how many voices are actually inside Liz’s mind.Millions Of People Like You  Liz confesses that marriage frightens her to death and that she had a breakdown when her ex-boyfriend, Emad an Egyptian prince, left her after their engagement.

Liz blames her mother and father for her current mindset, as they have a ‘compulsive unhealthy obsession’ with Hollywood and movie stars. Mum is obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor and dad is wild about screen legend, Audrey Hepburn. The perfect woman. Liz believes her parents are both cuckoo!

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets

Watching Me

So, with pen and diary in hand, Liz decides she’ll try and get to the bottom of what makes her family tick, and starts recording everything they say. Mum tells Liz, woman to woman, she married her father because he was the best looking boy at the local dance. Liz can’t believe what she is hearing. Women don’t marry just for looks, do they? Sadie’s Dance

At home, Liz constantly listens to her parents bickering over dinner about who is the most beautiful woman on TV. Is it  Elizabeth Taylor or Audrey Hepburn? Liz calls this dinner table conversation ‘The Beauty Debate’. (WHEN BEAUTY DOMINATES THE HEART) Will Liz ever be as beautiful as these Hollywood stars?

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets

When Beauty Dominates

Dad tells Liz that her mother could have been a movie star like Audrey Hepburn…if only things had been different for them. Hollywood Movie Stars  Liz wonders why things have to change in relationships?

Liz’s father remarries (Caroline the wicked witch of Coburg) and Liz’s relationship with her dad sours. Liz feels abandoned, and believes her father is always picking on the way she looks and dresses. In her bedroom, under a poster of Audrey Hepburn at her most glamourous, she comes up with a plan. Her dad loves Audrey Hepburn so she decides to copy her every move, even the way she talks. Liz is going to win back her father’s affection, she is going to change, be more like her father’s idol, Audrey Hepburn.  I Want To Be Like Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our AssetsAt her Catholic school, Liz is given the lead role of Eliza Doolittle, a role made famous by her Audrey Hepburn in Hollywood film ‘My Fair Lady’. At rehearsals, Liz starts behaving more like a diva every minute, insisting on changing the lines from the play, which makes her unpopular with the teachers.

Liz’s body is maturing, embarrassed by her developing breasts and she develops a crush on her teacher, Mr Conway.  Liz’s mum tells her she looks like Natalie Wood in Westside Story, even though she doesn’t. Excited that she is beautiful, Liz dresses up for her birthday dinner with her father and stepmother Caroline, but Liz’s fantasy comes crashing down to earth when her father starts criticizing the outfit she is wearing, telling her she looks like a Mexican gunslinger from an old Orson Well’s movie.

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets

I Want To Be Like Audrey Hepburn

Back in therapy, Liz has developed a strong feelings for Rod which frustrates her imaginary friend, Audrey Hepburn. Liz dreams of dancing with Rod dressed up like a Southern Belle from an old 1930’s movie. The dream turns into a nightmare, as one by one Liz’s ex-partners confront her, and line up to dance.

Liz wakes from the nightmare and spies Rod alone in his office. She learns he has an obsession as crazy as her family’s obsession with beauty and Hollywood stars. Rod is obsessed with matinee idol Rock Hudson, and is probably gay. Liz discovers that his office cupboard is lined with hundreds of pictures of the movie star.

Liz laments the trouble she is having committing to marriage with Len, and finding a ‘real man’ in the modern Melbourne. Feeling he has let Liz down, Rod asks her to dance with him and together they ponder where all the real men are hiding. A Real Man

ACT 2

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our AssetsOverture Reprise – Liz awakes in Rod’s arms, back in therapy.  She must have passed out. She confesses to Rod that her ex-fiancée, Emad, couldn’t commit to her and something cracked inside her head. (EMAD’S DANCE) Emad invites Liz for a coffee, Len gets jealous and Liz panics, thinking her only true friend, Audrey Hepburn, has disappeared from her mind, forever.  But, Audrey returns, warning Liz to never to trust a wild thing… her therapist, Rod.

On Brighton Beach with Rod, Liz produces a long list of names. She tells Rod these they are men she has slept with, confessing that she usually ends her relationships. Emad’s leaving, left her feeling unattractive, made her feel less of a woman. As Liz is about to leave, Rod drops a bombshell, suggesting she sees the movie The Three Faces of Eve, a film about a girl with multiple personalities. Puzzled, Liz leaves Rod’s office feeling frightened and alone. Emotions

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets

Make The Most Of What You’ve Got

During lunch, Caroline (wicked stepmother from Coburg) turns up unexpectedly to the shoe shop in Melbourne Central, where Liz works. She wants to get to ease the tension between them, after all they are family. (HEELS) When Liz’s mother arrives unannounced, they try to encourage Liz to use all her womanly charms get what she wants in life, to marry Len before she grows old and becomes invisible to the opposite sex. Make The Most Of What You’ve Got

Liz is horrified by the thought of compromising just to fit into a man’s world.  Mum hurries to dress, she’s late for a date with a young man she met on the internet. Audrey Hepburn sits watching the scene unfold like a 1940’s screwball comedy, excited that mum had the guts to cruise the internet.  Things spiral out of control when Caroline declares she is pregnant to Liz’s father and Emad gate crashes the house, proudly announces he is in fact mum’s internet date…and they’re off to see Now Voyager at the Astor Cinema. On hearing this, Liz fears she’ll fall apart and reminds Emad that Now Voyager is one of their favourite Bette Davis films. Liz is left alone with her imaginary friend Audrey Hepburn, together they ponder the meaning of  love. Audrey Hepburn tells Liz to just accept life, unconditionally. Traveller in Time .

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets

Travellers in Time

Liz decides to takes up a job offer in Perth for a new theatre company and starts making plans to leave Melbourne. Len warns her that there is nothing in Perth for him, and he won’t go. They fight over her decision and Len’s constant critiquing of what Liz wears and how she looks. Len reminds Liz that she is not a star, she is not Audrey Hepburn, and that this isn’t just about marriage, in fact she can’t commit to anything in life. Rod tells Liz to face the fact that she is not that special. (Reprise: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU).

After a Liz’s singing competition, Len and Liz’s relationship is at breaking point so she decides to break all ties (WHY DON’T YOU SAY TO ME) Liz moves in with her mother for her last few days in Melbourne. Mum offers Liz some home spun motherly advice… and that’s – ‘Get married before you’re too damn old and stop talking to yourself and never mention Audrey Hepburn again.’  My Biological Clock  So, with many questions about love, marriage, family and Hollywood… Liz decides that maybe it’s time to grow up.

Rod her therapist is the next relationship to bite the dust. Rod tells Liz on their last therapy session, that all the answers are inside of her and that life is never what we see on the silver screen. Liz kisses him goodbye, knowing he is a good man, and leaves with one thought in her mind… to rid herself of Audrey Hepburn’s constant chatter in her head once and for all.

audrey_0294Expecting a battle of the minds, Liz is surprised to find Audrey Hepburn is packed and ready to go. The two old friends hug and say their goodbyes. Audrey disappears as if by magic, back into the world of movie marathons and Hollywood make believe. Audrey’s parting words are as Eliza Doolittle, “Now common drover move ya bloody rear, ya got a train to catch.” Dad arrives to take Liz to the train station. He notices she has grown into a strong independent woman and believes now, without Audrey and in a good mindset, she can do anything her heart desires. Dad is proud of her, even of what she wears. You Stunned Me .

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our AssetsFlinders Street Station under the Clocks – Liz waits for a train to Perth. Just as she is about to board Len arrives with a suitcase. Liz tells him that Audrey Hepburn is gone for good! They kiss in the busy train station as millions of people walk by. Not A Day Goes By . Liz suddenly remembers her diary and all the notes she’d taken over the last year. She has recorded everything. Liz takes out her note book and starts to write: AUDREY HEPBURN AND I CONSIDER OUR ASSETS – A play by Liz O’Sullivan.

Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets  is a new Australian musical set in Melbourne. It premiered at the Melba Spiegeltent in Collingwood on 29th October 2015 and features 14 original songs.
Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets is written by Gayelene Carbis; based on her original play; Co-Written and adapted by Noel Anderson, Geoff Main and Cerise De Gelder; Music & Lyrics Geoff Main

Original Production
Director Noel Anderson
Musical Director – John Grant
Costumes – Lauren Ritchie
Set Design – John Wonnacott
Choreographers – Mitch Ralston & Caroline Hawke
Photography – Jody Stitt
Original Cast – Kelly Cupo, Hester Van Der Vyver, Mitch Ralston, Paul Dawber, Nadia Andary, Benjamin James, Caroline Hawke, James Ao
For further details contact: noel_anderson@y7mail.com
Presented by Harlequin Ink

Audrey The Musical Offical Website

Special thanks to: Cheryl Beattie, Lee Murphy, Jacob Cunningham, Eddie Muliaumaseai’ and Lee McClenaghan

Audrey On Facebook

Advertisements

Who Killed My Dad? Part 2 – By Noel Andersons

01daf162393b9cb025f4e19f8c082fd697a50364b9Revisiting a murder, in this case, my father’s murder is not an easy thing to do. There must be something deep inside of me that wants to set the record straight. Usually when a loved one dies their secrets are buried in the ground with them, never to resurface. We want to remember the dead fondly in coloured portraits or grainy black and white photographs of yesterday. Imagine years later, standing in your sister’s kitchen and being handed something as simple as a faded letter, about the death of your father, dark memories come floating back. How do you deal with pain hidden-away since a child about a winter’s nightmare, in a hotel car park, a long time ago? It’s a mystery, like a classic crime novel only with the final chapter ripped from the book. This is my father’s story and also mine. Because believe it or not I was there, just a kid drinking raspberry lemonade.

‘Every mystery in life has its origin in the heart’

Who Killed My Dad?

Mum died on the 11th of June 2016 in Queensland after months of ill health, leaving behind a letter, written on fine-faded paper. A letter I probably typed for her, detailing the brutal death of my father in Sydney back in the late 1960’s. No one in our family knew of the letter’s existence until my sister accidentally discovered it cleaning out my mum’s things, tucked away with her marriage certificate. Did mum want us to find it?

‘Do you know what’s written inside this? You’ll never believe it! Guess?’

THE LETTER – My mother’s letter was typed I believe on an old Olivetti typewriter, the typewriter was mine. According to my mother, on ‘6th June 1968’ my father was escorted out of the Narwee hotel in suburban Sydney by the doorman and the publican (misspelt in mum’s letter as publicman) for swearing. Several minutes later at around 9.05pm’ my father is left bleeding outside in the car park, and screaming I can’t hear, I can’t hear.’ So, with massive injuries to his brain, he’s rushed to Canterbury Hospital by a friend drinking at the hotel. Dad is in a coma for a week, the hospital staff perform two unsuccessful operations to remove blood clots from his brain. He never recovers and dies on the 14/06/1968 .

011582a3bb047ec5bb5b334660ba05805174877422

‘Happier Times’

In mum’s letter there’s no explanation why my dad was behaving badly and escorted out. She mentions that she arrived at 5pm, and that I was waiting in the car outside. That would leave me in the car for four hours before the ‘accident’ this seems an odd thing for my mum to do, and out of character. The lack of background information is strange, particularly as mum was very verbose naturally. Mum goes to considerable length in her letter to explain what dad’s wearing when the accident/bashing occurred, ‘He was wearing black trousers, blue nylon shirt, brown jumper, dark sports coat and brown shoes.’ But,  the reason for dad being removed from the bar in the first place is completely left out of her typed statement. Something unspoken, maybe? Mum also names the names of the men ‘she’ believes involved in my father’s death. She states exactly what she was drinking on the night ‘four brandy ice and ginger ales’ Her knowledge of the men’s names suggests she was friendly with at least one of them, maybe writing down their names not to forget at the time. Or did she track them down after the so call ‘accident?’. But, perhaps the most chilling thing in my mum’s letter from the grave are several lines attributed to the hotel doorman, who asks my mother Is that husband your outside?’Then he adds ‘Get up now and get him to hospital as we just smashed his head in’

‘Care shouldn’t start in an emergency room’

Reading mum’s letter over again, there are many things that don’t add up. Mum says, there wasn’t any time to call the police as he (my father) was in a bad way. Yet she drove me and my friend home, putting us to bed, before going to the hospital, arriving there at ‘9.45pm’ forty minutes after dad was beaten. Would things have turned out differently if dad was taken straight to the hospital? And, what happened to the other men in the hotel at the time? Where did they go? Why did no one call the police if dad was in such a bad way? Mum also refers to my father’s bashing several times in her letter as an ‘accident’ yet ultimately she is stating it was no accident, that he had his head bashed in deliberately and after it had happened, she was told by the hotel doorman that he (my father) needs help so you better get him to a (Canterbury) Hospital’ More telling for me is my memory of mum in tears holding me, saying in the car after she learned dad had passed away, ‘They killed him. The bastards’.

‘What a marvellous day for an exorcism’

CHILDHOOD DREAMS – They say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I believe this to be true. You see there’s a twist in the story I’m telling about my dad’s final moments and it’s that I was there, just a kid in the car, drinking lemonade with raspberry cordial, watching safely at a distance. Waiting with a friend for mum and dad to drive us home. ‘Stay here, I was told, and wait for mum. I won’t be long.’  On that night, as I sat chatting, I remember thinking ‘what’s that shouting about’, and started looking around to see where the male voices were coming from. I saw the brawl but had no idea dad was involved. I remember punches flying, and seeing three men (bouncers) in a circle, on their hand’s, large rings or maybe knuckle busters.  Then suddenly, everything fell deathly quiet. The fight ended. I only found out dad had been involved in the fight when mum came running back to the car, her face white as a ghost, screaming ‘Oh, God. Your father been bashed. Move over Noel. Jesus, there’s blood everywhere. We’ve got to get him to hospital’  On that cold winter night, I remember dad being carried to the car, blood dripping freely onto his shirt.  ‘I can’t hear. I can’t hear’. I remember seeing his face cut, bruised and bleeding through the car window, the car door opening and him falling in. I shuffled across the back seat of the car, scared…dad slumped forward, his eyes lifeless, and we drove off.

“So why didn’t mum contact the police, Noel?” my sister asked as I closed mum’s letter. ‘I don’t know..I think the police were contacted by the hospital at the time of dad ‘s death, or maybe earlier,’ I told her. In mum’s typed statement of the so called ‘accident’ she mentions that it wasn’t until the next morning she learned that my friend and I witnessed the whole thing, unaware dad was involved. I described the three men involved as ‘white shirts, dark trousers (bouncers), one gray hair with glasses, one dark haired and the third man, blond’ My father died eights days after being admitted to Canterbury Hospital, beaten unconscious by the bouncers on the property of well-known chain of hotels. To this day no one was charged with manslaughter.

‘Don’t compromise yourself – you’re all you have’ 

The months that followed dad’s death were long and painful. How do you ever forget something that terrible? I remember nights of waking way before breakfast and crying, alone. I don’t recall ever asking for comfort, or receiving it. But, I don’t remember much about anything after dad got into the car, bleeding. I do recall mum telling me as she tied my school shoelaces, I was going to be asked to testify as a witness in court, and to just tell the truth. ‘Son just stand up there and tell the truth, what you saw. You’ve always spoken clearly. Describe the three men clearly’. As a kid, death became a reoccurring theme in my dreams, and often as an adult it has weaved its way into my writing and my work.  At NIDA in 1996, I wrote an end of year war piece about the death of a Japanese soldier called ‘Germ Warfare.’ Reading it today, it’s clearly the story about my dad’s death. For a long time I feared death, but in later years I have found peace resting beside it. I occasionally run through the cemetery near my home on hot days, and often think of dad when I stop to rest. Standing amongst the tombstones, I am fearless.

‘We heard you did okay out of it? Your mum and you’

I had my day in court. Standing on the stand, a child in an adult world, reliving that winter of my worst dreams, dressed carefully by mum, so I looked presentable. Perfect, spotless in fact. I articulated everything ‘clearly’ on the witness stand, telling what I had seen, describing the men responsible, even then as a little kid I could hold an audience. The case would be adjourned, and a new date would be set we were told by the judge, and we left the court. But, that new date never came. I remember mum talking about how we’d be financially okay once dad’s case was settled, but it never was settled. Everything was just forgotten as if my dad never ever existed. Eventually, over time, my mum stopped mentioning dad’s murder, she got on with her life and I grew up.

Writer/Director Noel Anderson

‘I am fearless’

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind

I recall watching ‘Splendor in the Grass’ with Natalie Wood at home and mum saying as she brought in two mugs of coffee and milk, ‘it’s been 5 years since your father died, son. Gone fast’. I believe she missed him, even given his bad temperament and their constant fighting. People would often stop her on the street and say “Doreen, we heard you did okay after Andy’s death. You and your boy were taken good care of,” Mum smiled, and corrected them, “We got nothing. Heard nothing. I reckon someone paid them off. The men, probably. They were all involved. They hushed it up,” and we’d get on with our day, shopping.  No one gave a damn. The case remains untried, and unsettled in my mind. A mystery, except for my mother’s letter about a winter’s night a long time ago. ‘Nobody will love you like mum and dad,’ she’d say to me as a little kid, while watching a love story on TV. I have found this statement to be ‘the truth’.

‘Monsters are real, Ghost are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes they win’

Standing in the kitchen at 9.05pm last winter in Melbourne, I thought I saw something floating outside the window, but it was nothing. I finished pouring a cuppa, walked into the lounge room and felt a soft warm hug, then another, the presence of both my mother and my father standing beside me, together at long last. I smiled, sipped my coffee and started typing this story, ‘Who Killed My Dad.’ After a few minutes I looked up at mum’s wedding picture sitting on the mantle, and I thought to myself, ‘Noel? Do you believe in ghosts? I answered I do. In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, I am a believer.

ENDING UNRESOLVED

0142e6a9051f07056a782e01bfaa7b400dad61b338ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Noel has directed over 50 theatrical productions and worked in film and TV. He completed NIDA’s Playwright Studio in 1996 and studied directing in London and New York. Noel’s written work includes the play Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame and the musical Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets. Noel believes in the power of music, pop art and Campbell’s Soup (thanks to Mr Warhol). Learn more: Noel Anderson Website

‘Before The Mardi Gras Parade Passes By’ by Noel Anderson

I’m on a Jetstar plane travelling to Sydney for the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. So, naturally I’m thinking queer history and the evolution of LGBTQ community in Australia. It has been colourful and at times a painful journey, from persecution to liberation. Recently of course, Australians turned out in their thousands and voted ‘YES’ to marriage equality, reminding the ‘NO’ voters including ex-PM Tony Abbott, leading ‘NO’ vote supporter, what a ‘fair go’ really means, and possibly also redefining exactly what it means to be a ‘dinkum Aussie’ in modern terms. It was also a joy to lean, so many heterosexual Aussies believed in the power of love.

Having grown up a Sydneysider, the history of that 78ERS is well known to me. In fact, I can’t think of the Sydney Mardi Gras without remembering the efforts of the men and women that paved the way for the liberal minded country we live in today. I believe that message of love started way back in 1978 at that very first protest march. So, I thought I’d take a moment ‘Before the parade passes by’ to reflect on that single great event in queer history, the one that started the whole damn ‘Mardi Gras Parade’ thing.

Saturday 24 June, 1978 – A buzz was in the chilly night air, as a small group of men and women gathered at Taylor Square to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York. The bars on Oxford Street were bustling with late night crowds waiting to see what the night would bring. Often that meant heading to one of three key openly gay venues, in particular Cappriccio’s, which was nearby. However, this Saturday night was very different.

As 11pm approached, a throng of people – some walking, some dancing, a few even skipping – marched down towards Hyde Park. Chants of “Out of the bars and into the streets” joined the sound of gay liberation anthems ‘Glad to be Gay’ and ‘Ode to a Gym Teacher’ emanating from the small sound system on the back of a single flat-bed truck, driven by Lance Gowland.

The NSW Police, however, were not in such a joyous mood. Despite the issuing of a permit for the march, the police began to usher the revellers down the street. When the marchers reached Hyde Park, the police confiscated the truck and sound system. The crowd began to move towards Kings Cross. Once there the police swooped in, blocking the dispersing crowd and throwing people into paddy-wagons. The crowd fought back and 53 were subsequently charged at Darlinghurst police station.

Although most charges were eventually dropped, The Sydney Morning Herald published the names, occupations and addresses of those arrested in full, outing many and causing some to lose their jobs. This was the authorities’ attempt to keep the community in line, but Sydney’s gays and lesbians would not get back in line. Little did those witnessing and partaking in the march know, this was to be the start of Mardi Gras and would become a defining moment not only in Australia’s LGBTQI rights history, but a defining moment in the cultural heritage of Australia.

It’s three days now before Mardi Gras celebrates its 40th anniversary and I am at the ‘Mardi Gras’ Museum of Love and Protest’ revisiting not only Mardi Gras’ history but also it’s colourful costumes.

Wandering through the miles of fabric and dresses, outfits, hats and sequins, I am reminded of the hours of love and creativity it takes to be part of the parade. And, I’m also reminded of the many friends lost to HIV back in the 1980’s and 90’s.

For me, Mardi Gras is part of my DNA, I own it. Like my birth place, Sydney, it will always be in my soul. Wherever I roam, I will draw strength from the 78ERS, the men and women who fought the good fight, so generations of LGBTQ Australians could live and prosper in a better world.

Happy 40th Mardi Gras Anniversary From Noel

The ‘YES’ vote for equality I don’t believe would have been achievable without the 78ERS or Mardi Gras. Sydney would not be Sydney without the LGBTQ community. They go together like meat pie and tomato sauce, and Australians everywhere are all the better off for it.

Happy 40th Mardi Gras love always Noel xx

Noel Anderson’s Website

Note: ‘Mardi Gras’ Museum of Love and Protest’ part of Mardi Gras 2018. Thanks to the National Art School for all the memories.

Who Killed My Dad? Part 1 – By Noel Anderson

When someone dies that’s close to you a piece of you dies with them. Death of a loved one can often throw up unanswered questions, things about that person and their life you never thought about when they were alive, or perhaps never even knew. What you are about to read is a true story. I know because I was there. This is my dad’s story, and also mine. It’s a chance for me to remember a winter in Sydney a long time gone.

‘Life is so unpredictable. Be grateful for every moment’

017c32fbc584810900384d1be8daaac11acad3ad34

‘This is a true story’

In mid 2016 I flew to Queensland to help my sister sort out funeral arrangements for my ailing mother. We’d spent most of the day with mum at the nursing home where she’d been moved after it became obvious she was becoming too much for my sister to handle. When I arrived, she was brighter than I had expected, frail but putting on a good show for us.  Mum always understood the importance of drama in day to day life, she’d lost none of her fight and could  still raise a little hell if need be.  I sat on her bed holding her hand, while mum bitched about one of the nursing staff, a girl she disliked.  ‘The bloody bitch’ mum called her repeatedly.  ‘I said to her, oh your nothing but a bloody bitch. I’m going to report you.’ I remember thinking mum knew her time was almost up, even though she behaved as if it was business as usual. She didn’t miss a trick, her blue eyes darting about, keeping a watchful eye over every move my sister and I made. Eventually, I snuck out and chatted with her doctor in privacy of the busy corridor. He confirmed the need for us to have mum’s funeral arrangements in place before I returned to Melbourne.  “There will be no next year for mum” he warned me. “Her body is shutting down. But, she’s got her sense of humour back, good and strong.” The doctor was right, mum had got her sense of humour back…and that ‘bloody bitch of a nurse’ was now part of mum’s morning routine.

01fd901768f197ad56b5427929a380631f36a6836d

‘Do you know what’s written inside?’

Later that day, I’d just settled in at my sister’s place in Brisbane when out of the blue she handed me a cup of coffee and a selection of photos of mum singing when she was younger, then she added, “I thought you might want this, mum’s marriage certificate and this (she passed me a letter) do you know what’s written inside? You won’t believe it? Guess?” I had no idea what my sister was talking about, or why the mystery? “It’s mum’s statement, maybe for the police.  She wrote a letter about Andy (my dad but my sister’s stepfather), you know when he was murdered. What happened that night. Can you believe mum kept it?” Well, no I couldn’t.  It was a long time ago when dad died, I was ten years old in fact. My father’s death and ‘why it happened’ had been a mystery in our family for years, often discussed at family get togethers, but never with any clear answers. A piece of the puzzle was always missing. Indeed, mum if she knew more, wasn’t ever going to let on, not now, not ever!

‘Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced’

015c34257b662f8deb15521b4be7215a1b676a663eTHE FACTS OF LIFE  – To say my father was good man would be a lie. In my mind, I remember him in a series of flashbacks, moments of violent domestic mayhem and flashes of toothy smiles and kindness, followed by a gentle pat on the head. To say when he died of massive brain injuries to the head in Sydney, I wasn’t relieved, would be untrue. I was relieved, and so was mum probably. But, also to say that I didn’t feel the loss of my father’s love, would be a lie.  I clearly recall my mother sitting beside me in the car outside Canterbury Hospital and announcing dad’s death. “Your father passed away. He’s dead, son” she said, plain and simple. “They killed him. The bastards.” We sat huddled together in the car a long time, mum crying. Years later when I thought about dad, and his temperament, I thought he was just probably very unhappy with his lot in life.

In the years since dad’s murder that moment of ‘hugging mum’ in the car has played out in my mind on repeat. From that time on, my childhood was never going to be the same as any other kid in Australia, I thought. That one single moment of  death, relief and loss reshaped mum’s life and our future relationship. It brought us close together in my teenage years and introduced a communication shortcut between us, we were unflinching in our honesty when we chatted alone, but it distanced me from her a little when I grew up. It also changed my perception of how I would ‘live my life’ to this day. It made me strong, stronger than I might have been, if dad had lived a long prosperous life. If I had things to do then I would do them. Life was not a box of Fantales, the only thing you can be certain of for sure in life I decided at ten years old is death, our final destination. Later I would understand the beauty in the tragedy of my father’s death, and its affect on my creativity, but that beauty took a long time to find me.

‘Remember, time is frozen. No matter what, we can never get away from where we’ve been’

Who Killed My Father

‘Maybe I typed it?’

I opened my mum’s letter and sipped my coffee, I sat with my sister reading mum’s statement about that night, the night my father was beaten to death outside a Sydney hotel in a brawl.  There were many things that we both wondered about in mum’s statement. Why was he was beaten by the bouncers? What had he done? Why was I up so late? “Why weren’t you in bed Noel? 9pm? That’s very late for mum to have you up? Particularly in those days. Didn’t you have to go to school?” my sister said, looking puzzled.  “Maybe I was on holidays” I replied. Mum’s statement was typed, using a typewriter. This was before computers of course. “She couldn’t have typed this. Someone must have typed it for her,” my sister insisted. “Maybe I typed it,” I added. “I had this old green Olivetti typewriter. Do you remember? I was always writing. I think that’s my paper?’ (I clearly remember having a large pad of very fine writing paper at home). “Maybe she got me to do it for her?” “No Noel, you were just a little boy. She wouldn’t get you to do it,” my sister argued. I thought for a second, then added “Suzanne, I was always typing.”

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

Mum’s statement contained detailed information, told from her perspective, of the night my father was  beaten to a pulp on the property of a suburban hotel in Narwee, Sydney. In mum’s statement, she names the men, the bouncers employed by the hotel, that were there at the time of his death. She describes finding my father in the car park ‘laying in a pool of blood.’ She adds, a hotel punter drinking there at the time, asked the doorman ‘who has done this to this man?’ The hotel doorman responds with ‘we did, and if you don’t get away you’ll get the same.’ Mum also says later in her letter ‘that the punter (who she names) wanted to call the police but there wasn’t time as my husband was in a bad way.’ But, perhaps the biggest surprise was the affect finding mum’s statement had on me. The memories it brought back, memories of an unsolved mystery, set in the world of my childhood. In 1968 Australia had a population of just twelve million people. That year, Harold Holt the prime minister disappeared while swimming at Portsea, NGV opened its doors for the first time, and the pop group The Seekers  were named Australians of the Year. In my childhood there were no computers, or mobile phones with cameras, in 1968 people could get away with murder.

Like all murder mysteries my dad’s death has a surprise twist. Believe it or not, in a car near by on that cold winter’s night in Sydney years ago, innocently drinking a flavoured lemonade with a mate, watching a brawl taking place in the hotel carpark…was me. Unbeknownst to me, I sat watching my father being beaten unconscious at the local pub. He was in the middle of a circle of men, punches flying.  I didn’t see his face. A week later he was stone cold dead in Canterbury Hospital and I was without a dad. From that moment on, nothing would ever be the same for mum, dad or me. That night my childhood ended.

“Noel get into the back seat of the car. Go on. Your father been bashed. We have to get him to hospital. Move love. Oh, Jesus, there’s blood everywhere” mum said, many winters ago. 

PART 2 CONTINUES

Who Killed My Dad? Part 2 

Who Killed My Father? The True Stories Collection

0142e6a9051f07056a782e01bfaa7b400dad61b338ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Noel has directed over 50 theatrical productions and worked in film and TV. He completed NIDA’s Playwright Studio in 1996 and studied directing in London and New York. Noel’s written work includes the play Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame and the musical Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets. Noel believes in the power of music, pop art and Campbell’s Soup (thanks to Mr Warhol).  Learn more: Noel Anderson’s Website

Actors Wanted for New Supernatural Thriller

ADCADFF8-E28E-48D6-937B-F381347E9846The Secrets Box is a new stage thriller in the style of classic thrillers like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘The Others’ and the ‘Cabinet of Dr Caligari.’ It is written by Craig Charter, dramaturgy by Kieran Carroll, and directed by Noel Anderson.

We are currently seeking experienced actors to fill three main roles – Anna Fischer, The Professor and Mrs Reese.

A Brief Synopsis

The Secrets Box is a story of spiritual resolution and the process of dying. Anna finds herself in a strange cat and mouse game under the watchful eye of the Professor and his companion Ms Reese. Trapped inside the Professors office, divulging her inner regrets, Anna must choose to either disregard her past mistakes or fight to rectify her life. The final twist leaves Anna clinging on for dear life and delivers to both advocates, the Professor and Ms Reese, the ultimate supernatural betrayal.

Character descriptions:

Anna Fisher:

For Anna Fisher, a life that shines brightly is soured with a series of bad decisions which spiral into depression resulting in a tormented soul. In the process of dying, a deeply conflicted Anna, is confronted by the opposing advocates of the afterlife. As they cast their respective spells of persuasion, Anna relives the pivotal events of her life. At first emotionally fragile, her guilt and regrets build into an inner strength and determination to change; but rather than choosing the options on offer, she takes the most difficult of paths, in fighting to stay alive, and facing her Earthly problems with renewed vigor.

The Professor:

Dramatic in movement and gestures, he often appears vague, but he’s soaking in every detail. His attire is formal but scruffy and his expressive facial features clearly expose his ever changing emotions. He’ll become engrossed in what might seem irrelevant details, which ends up proving his point on a much larger issue. As the supernatural advocate for reincarnation he conveys the virtues of resolution of the soul with charismatic wit and humor. He infuriates his adversary, Ms Reese, who as the opposing spiritual advocate, would love to hate him, but instead, their personalities blend to produce a potent chemistry.

Ms Reese:

Elegant and sophisticated, precise and focused she displays a joy in belittling any thoughts or opinions that differ even slightly from her own. Her immaculate attire highlights an attractive figure, which she uses to taunt the Professor whenever it suits her. She draws you in with her highly articulate and persuasive assertions, casting doubt on your most fundamental beliefs. And although undoubtedly efficient and calculating, she hides a softer side, which occasional can be seen within her dark humor, or beneath her aloof exterior, where she sparingly displays a begrudging respect for the Professor.

Actors Required

• We are looking for women between the ages of 25 – 40’s (Anna Fisher 25 years plus, Mrs Reese mid 30’s plus, requires an Irish accent)

•We are looking for men (The Professor) 30’s – 40’s. (The ability to do card tricks or slight of hand magic tricks would be an advantage…but not necessary to audition)

If you would like to audition for one of the three roles, please send your CV, contact details, links (showreel optional) and a recent photograph to director Noel Anderson at email address below. Auditions will be held on the 17th February.

Auditions email: audreypopmusical@yahoo.com.au

Actors – Flat Fee Payment offered plus %

Unfinished Symphony 

In my dreams I remember music more than people. If God was working today I’m convinced he’d be a professional musician.  Probably playing trumpet in a swing band in a dodgy RSL club in Yarraville or strumming a guitar and singing an old folk song by Peter, Paul and Mary about peace, love and hammers. I use to think friends and family are all we needed in life but now I don’t believe that, now I believe only in music.
I remember standing on Halsted Street in Chicago not knowing where to go. It had been a strange holiday, not what I had expected exactly. Most holidays aren’t. New York wasn’t what I thought I needed and neither was Montreal. I was searching for something that trip, something I’d lost in my late thirties. Something I wanted back. There’s this thing with travelling, it unravels the springs inside you, letting your soul loose and imagination free to roam uninhibited.

I recall standing on the footpath, city map in hand, wondering where I should go next.  A doctor I went to when I was on worker’s comp in Sydney told me once ‘when you are unsure of what to do in a given situation then best do nothing.’ For some reason I’ve never forgotten that, so I stood there holding the Chicago city map and didn’t move.
I don’t know at what point I started to drift, maybe it was the music coming from a nearby bar that had prompted it, but drift I did. My mind shifted into an altered state of absolute relaxation, a state of chemically free bliss brought on by the tribal beats in the music reverberating through my body, every beat teasing my eardrums. A commotion was happening in a tiny bar on Halsted, and my senses appeared to open up to the sensation.

As I stood there drifting, my boyhood was paraded candidly before my eyes in Technicolor flashbacks; an occasional sour note in grainy R.K.O black and white, thrown in for good measure. “You can change your future but you must never forget the past” I heard Grandma chuckle as she buttered a scone. I saw myself in my grandma’s backyard in St Peters playing with wooden pegs while my mum hung a week’s worth of family smalls on the clothesline.  There’s something about panties, bras and Y-fronts blowing in the breeze on a hot day that always makes me smile. I remembered the day I locked my mother and my grandma out of the house for eight hours, giggling the entire time until my uncle Kenny came home, jumped the fence and let them in. I was sent immediately to bed and given no pocket-money that week.

I drifted again, this time a few houses up the street to Christine’s place, where we sat on the lounge cuddling and I had my first kiss. I remember Christine taking my hand and placing it up and under her school uniform. It is those days of raspberry cordial, teenage dreams and family that come back whenever I hear a song by the Carpenters playing on the radio.  Those days, when I was younger.

Writer Noel Anderson

I dropped the map and bent down to pick it up. The music coming from inside the bar was very loud so I decided to go in. I walked straight up to the barman and ordered a Budweiser. There’s something about a DJ spinning records that has always fascinated me, to this day I can sit alone anywhere in the world and listen to a good DJ and never feel the need for social contact. I decided at some point this God given gift was to keep me safe and out of trouble. It gives me a sense of contentment that most people struggle to find in day to day life, foolish people who put their faith in loving someone else… but not me, I have put all my faith in music.

“Do you believe in God. I was watching you from the DJ box. You were enjoying my set. Do you believe in him?”  I didn’t answer. “Have I offended you or something? Maybe you think I should get back up there and just spin tracks. Do you live in Chicago?”
“I believe in music, nothing else” I responded. “I’ve tried believing in other things but it just doesn’t work. I’ve been let down by other things, people mostly I guess. I am never let down by music. So, I believe only in it these days. Does this make me a coward?” I asked him, finishing my Bud. “You know that’s a strange question for a DJ to be asking? So, what do you believe anyway?”

“I believe in America and Budweiser beer of course. First thing in the morning I always believe in a good coffee, strong black. I believe in God. He created music for everyone to enjoy, not just you. I gotta get back behind the deck. Nice chatting. Enjoy your flight.” He smiled a cheeky F.U. smile and left.  Enjoy your flight? How did he know that I wasn’t from Chicago? Must be my accent I decided. I ordered another beer at the bar and sat nearest to the stage right speaker.  I drank, listened to the music he was spinning and started to drift.

I was thirteen and living with my mum and stepdad. I had suggested our kitchen table for a sneaky game of poker while mum was out.  I remember dealing the deck of cards and smoking, feeling out of place surrounded by my neighbourhood friends. I tried my first and my last cigarette that day while mum was out shopping.  I nearly choked to death. Smoking was never going to work for me I decided. The music changed tempo, I drifted towards the sky through endless silver cloud and landed feet first at a set of gates with the sign Rainbow Depot hanging in midair. Inside the gates I could hear an orchestra warming up and walking towards me was the DJ from Chicago drinking a Bud. He pushed on the gates and stood open armed as if to say ‘Sing For Me.’

“I’m a tenor ” I confided clearing my throat and immediately started to sing Che Gelida Manina from La Boheme. I sang in a voice I’d never heard before, hitting notes I never dreamed I could hit. When I’d finished  we stood comfortable in our quiet time, much like lovers setting up house for the first time somewhere in a big city. He broke the silence with his strong Chicagoan accent.

“How well did you love?” he asked. I didn’t answer or wouldn’t.  Instead I fidgeted. “How well did you love my friend?” Still I didn’t answer preferring to get lost in the melody line of the music coming from the orchestra beyond the gates. “This is not a competition. At Rainbow Depot there is no right or wrong answer. There is no failure here, not in this place. There is only the symphony. Can you hear it?”  Indeed I could hear it, I have heard it all my life I thought, sometimes while doing the dishes as a kid with mum, occasionally while having sex, leading me closer to a place yet to be discovered.  “How well did you love?” he prompted again.

“Not very well I think mister DJ. Oh, there has been times I’ve done okay. But, at the end of the day, once the shit is left to settle and the band has gone home, I don’t think I’ve done well at all. But, if you compare me to other people I’ve done alright. Alright does sound a little underwhelming though. You said something about there being no comparison but that, I think, is a very idealistic position for  you to be taking and …” The DJ cut me off mid sentence. “Stop. I said this is NOT a competition. And, as a general rule there should be NO comparison. How well did you love is all I asked. It is the easiest of all questions, yet you stand in this safe place with no answer, only comparison. Tell me, what do you feel under your skin?” There was no getting out of it, no changing records, not even a murder on the dance floor could save me. I had to answer.

“Okay. I’ll tell you. Under my skin I believe not all people are created equal. I reckon there are a lot of really fucked up things happening today that most people aren’t aware of or even give a shit about. I stress. I think sometimes, not every day, but sometimes I think we are all doomed to die if the young generation is left in charge of the office, even just for five minutes… and I believe wholeheartedly in the power of chocolate to make you feel better after a break up. But, mostly mister DJ I believe in music and a God that can dance.”

He finished his Budweiser, turned to leave, stopped at the gates. “A God that can dance? Good on you, good-on-you. At least you’ve got something to hold tight, most don’t.” He did a little foxtrot and shut the gates.

How well did you love?

I was back inside the bar on Halsted Street, the bartender came over and asked if I wanted another Bud. I declined the offer and left. Outside I sat on the curb and listen to the rhythm in the music cut through the cold night air.  I sat for a long time alone not needing anyone, lost in the music. He was a good DJ I thought, taking me to places I’d only ever dreamed of. I waited until he’d finished his set, catching him off guard in the carpark as he packed albums into the boot of his car.

“How well did YOU love Mr DJ?” I asked him.  He looked up a little surprised but kept packing.  “Are YOU from Chicago?” I continued. Still no answer came. He shut the boot, got into his car, turned the keys in the ignition. The car radio came on, 98. 7 FM Chicago.  A symphony was playing.

“What’s that playing?” I asked. “That music, I recognise it.”
He looked me in the eyes, no one spoke for what felt like eternity and then…
“You can’t know it. It’s an unfinished symphony. Mine,” he confessed. “I’ve been working on it between gigs. It’s a work in progress, Woo Wap Da Bam. I started back in London when I lived near the Angel. It’s called The Symphony of…” But  before he had finished the sentence, he drove off.

In Melbourne I dream about Chicago often, when I close my eyes I hear his car engine idling through the walls of my St Kilda flat and I can just make out the unfinished symphony playing in the distance. It’s usually turns out to be nothing more than static from Barry’s TV set next door. Static that sounds like music to me. An unfinished symphony beckoning me to a bar on Halsted Street with a DJ spinning orchestral tracks at Rainbow Depot. How well did you love he’d asked? I don’t know how well I’ve done so far.  I tried my best I guess. What do I believe he smiled, looking up from the deck, as I shut my eyes. I believe I mustn’t compare. Well, at least I’ve learnt that.  In the end that’s gotta be worth something.

About the Author – Noel Anderson completed NIDA’s Playwright Studio and has directed over 50 theatrical productions and worked in film and TV.  Noel’s written work includes the plays Dark victory,  Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame and the musical Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets. You can also subscribe to Noel’s YouTube Channel.  Other sites to follow: Twitter @Randyandy42 or Facebook or Instagram

Stage Fright or ‘I’ll have eggs with that!’

I’m never short on words but …

I am not someone who is ever short for words but recently at a performance of Love Kills 2017, currently playing in Collingwood, I had a minute or two when my mind emptied like a can of baked beans over a hot saucepan. I tried thinking hard but there was nothing but black! Naturally I bumbled on pretending to talk to Kylie Minogue, which seemed to go down alright but didn’t pull me out of the jam or the blankness of my mind. So, I tried cracking a few jokes about bisexuality (always goes down a treat) and generally shamelessly showing off until, at last the my script ‘Confide in Me’ magically popped back into my head. I remember thinking at the time, in those few minutes, as I looked into the audiences smiling faces, ‘Oh God, this what they came for, a live experience and I am givin’ it to them in abundance’.

I’ll take this moment to thank everyone who sent me private messages praising the show, the acting, the writing and my direction, I really appreciate everyone’s blessing.

Cinema of cause is all planned, but not live theatre, anything can happen.  The very nature of doing a live show is that the audience in general are rooting for you and I counted on that.  Recently at an MTC show I went to see, Colin Friels had to ask for a prompt several times, so it can happen to the best of’em.

However thinking back, somewhere in my speech about ‘vaginas and penises’ (I’m all class) I got loss in my own fantasy and started constructing a new ending to my very own work, then when I realised what I was doing blocked it. Stage fright or stage block? Not sure… I went home after the performance, stripped off and jumped in bed and pondered what would have happened had I just let my imagination continue. Where would my improvised ‘tale of love’ have ended? Would it still have the same meaning? And more importantly would the audience have enjoyed the new improvised script with me free falling, more than the scripted one?

The next morning I got up and  had bacon and eggs for breakfast, with beans, still thinking about that moment when I realised I’d fallen into my own storyline, just like Alice does, in Alice in Wonderland, a dreamtime state where anything could have happen…if only I had trusted more. But, of course I didn’t and I don’t. Trust is something that sadly disappears at the end of relationships also.

Leading a company of players and putting on a show where you play four roles director/writer/producer/performer is not the easiest job in the world, you get tired and at times you just want to go to sleep, curl up. But, of course you can’t, much like the last days of a relationship, you sense a battle is nearing, and the only thing you can think to do is…JUMP!

The cast for Love Kills 2017 features Caroline Ferguson (direct from La Mama’s 2017 hit The Privatization of Ward 9B), Graham Murray (Glitch 2 & Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries), Carissa McAllen (Paper Giants: Magazine Wars), Stephanie Osztreicher, Lourdes Zamanillo, Ros Lewis, Geoff Stuart (Melb Writer’s Social Group) and Noel Anderson performing his Kylie Minogue pop inspired breakup piece ‘Confide in Me.’

Love Kills 2017 is on until the 23rd September.

Tickets via www.melbournefringe.com.au or (03) 9660 9666

Love Kills 2017 only at Melb Fringe

Love Kills 2017 – Caz Reitop’s Dirty Secrets (best venue winner) – 80 Smith St, Collingwood. 14th – 23rd Sept, 2017. Performance Times: Wed – Thurs 7pm, Friday 6pm, Sat 5.30pm.  Seven performances only (bookings essential) 14th Sept Preview $20 / all other performances $25. Warning adult themes and strong language.

Love Kills 2017 on Facebook

Interviews & Contact Info: noel_anderson@y7mail.com or (03) 90770781 (leave a message)