Breaking the Code – A Writer’s Life

‘I let my imagination carry me’ – Noel Anderson

I can’t remember when I started writing exactly. I recall sitting on the floor at home watching TV and bashing away on an old typewriter that I loved. Writing always felt like an adventure. A trek into my subconscious mind. Once inside, the mission should I decide to take it, is often dreaming up things unobtainable in real life. As a boy, these dreams consisted of movie terrors from outer space.  Black and white monsters from the 1950’s were on high rotation most afternoons. On a secret mission, breaking the code to life itself, I imagined I worked tirelessly with a group of American scientists at an isolated outpost. In my imagination, I discover, ‘monsters that time forgot,’ frozen in a clump under the Arctic ice. Naturally I save the day, destroy the creatures and the world is safer place, thanks to my fertile imagination. In my backyard-fantasies, I let my imagination carry me. I play with wooden pegs, turning them into astronauts, painting on space helmets. Surrounded by washing drying on a Hills Hoist, I stir up a storm in a tea cup… and I write. This habit of putting down words day and night, is going to be a lifetime problem, I decide.

But, puberty changes things, and the years fly by. Friends once thought precious have gone, family passed over. Values held dear to my heart as a younger man, feel wasted, like second hand clothes, so I wash them away. Writing feeds me when I am lost in the dark.

“Hey you. Your a writer aren’t you?” I look at the timetable, pretending not to hear. “Hey, you. I know your work. I read your story online about the death your father.”

“Do I know you?” I ask, waiting for the tram.

“Brave. I wish I could be like that. Put stuff out there, my feelings, to the universe. Just say fuck it! Seriously I want that. I do…You know, if I had time to be a writer, like you…I’d be better than you. I’d be something else, I know.” He leaves. I don’t remember his face.

I breathe freely and miss my tram. I wait. In those minutes, nothing mattered. Time stopped. Gradually my mind turns white, like a blank sheet of paper. Then, holding my imagination tightly, I write… if only I was a real person, like him. But, I’m not. Oh, well…fuck it!

About the author – Noel Anderson has worked in film and theatre and is featured in Breaking the Code a two day symposium for writers/authors, 6-7th Oct 2018. Noel is currently adapting his play Sammy & Dave into a film, about two bisexual-married men who rendezvous for a one night stand. Based on a true story.

Sammy and Dave – Promo Trailer
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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

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.

Crab Claws by Noel Anderson 

The shop was pretty ordinary, situated on Exhibition Street opposite the Comedy Theatre. If you blinked you’d miss it.  They sold crab claws, the best in Melbourne so the sign in the window outside stated. Mrs Cray stood facing the red and gold oriental door and wondered if she should try them, rain pelting her, clothes already soaked to the skin.  It was an hour before her lift to Barbara’s house, her complaining sister-in-law. Well, thought Mrs Cray, ‘I suppose John’s death five days ago has finally given you something to really bloody complain about.’ Cruel thoughts about Barbara given the circumstances…but true none the less, Mrs Cray believed.

Mrs Cray glanced at the shop door, she was hungry after her flight from W.A and the short black she’d downed at Perth’s airport was wearing off and her naturally grumpy disposition was starting to shine through, maybe a serve of crab claws would set her right for the long drive to Frankston and her brother John’s funeral.

Mrs Cray looked at the sky, she hated Melbourne’s grey wintry days, more than she hated living in Perth, more than she hated her ex husband.  If only she could escape from life in Perth and her mobile phone bills, maybe…just maybe she’d be happy.  Melbourne’s bleak winter’s day however was not the answer to her problems so Mrs Cray pushed on the door, shook off her endless thoughts of Barbara, and entered the shop.

Sue Lin (a control freak and a green tea addict) had taken up managing the restaurant eighteen months earlier, she’d been watching Mrs Cray from inside, she’d hoped the petite lady with the Prada bag would enter The Golden Empress as business had been slow this winter. Sue Lin examined her reflection in the silver cooking urn, she liked her fine features and pointy chin, carefully she tucked her blouse ends tightly in her skirt and walked to the front door catching Mrs Cray by surprise.

“Oh dear…you startled me.”

“Are you waiting for someone else?” Sue Lin smiled, her expression barely shifting.

“A table…for one. I’m no romantic on days this cold and wet I’m afraid.”

Sue Lin wondered….what odd comment? Confused and wanting only to please, she decided to ignore the comment totally. But, she could not ignore Mrs Cray’s superb Prada bag.

“Madam what a lovely bag,” she smiled brightly. “Now we have nine out of ten tables available, so please take your pick.  Perhaps down back, away from the chill might be best? I think the back table you’ll find most comfortable.”

“Sounds perfect. Oh, l’d like a plate of crab claws. I hear they’re good,” Mrs Cray handed Sue Lin her wet umbrella. “Are they good?”

“My father says they are better than good, they are yummly

Yummly? I like that” Mrs Cray confessed.

“Okie dokie claws it is.” In the blink of an eye, Sue Lin moved within an inch of  Mrs Cray’s right ear and whispered, “I promise you won’t be disappointed. Now follow me madam. We have several varieties…smoky butter, curry sauce, sweet and sour…and stuffed!  My father’s personal favourite!”

Mrs Cray looked at Sue Lin’s frozen smile and wondered… the shop was deserted except for a handsome backpacker seated in the far corner. She hadn’t seen a man that good looking since she skinny dipped on the Gold Coast in her uni days…living in Perth does have its drawbacks …I wish I could fit into that red bikini now, she thought. Now what was she here for?… yes that’s right, the crab claws.

Sue Lin walked Mrs Cray down the centre aisle, wiping a table or two along the way with a dry serviette, seating Mrs Cray table length away from the backpacker.

“You’ll find it most likeable here. Drinks?”

“Yes,” Mrs Cray nodded, slowly unbuttoning her cardigan. “A Bloody Mary. Just kidding. The house Sav Blanc is fine. Served with my claws, not separate, drink and food together understand? Are the claws fresh?”

“Naturally madam” Sue Lin smiled taking the drinks menu.

“Good. Oh, one list thing. I’ll have my claws stuffed with a little curry sauce on the side. Hot and spicy.”

“As you wish madam,” Sue Lin understood exactly what Ms Cray meant, nodded politely and left the restaurant floor.

Mrs Cray pulled her cashmere cardigan off her shoulders and draped it gently over her red plastic chair. It was a chilly restaurant despite the bar heaters being on full. She took a deep breath, sat Down, sighed and thought about John’s funeral. The backpacker looked up from his plate of claws and winked, she smiled back blushing red.

“Lady?” he whispered in a soft American accent “For what it’s worth I ordered the claws too. They’re good. My friend turned me on to this place, there’s not much to look at here, but the claws are good. In fact they’re yummly.”  The backpacker winked again, chuckled to himself and licked his fingers.

Mrs Cray begged to differ, she felt there was a lot to look at, and that the young man on table ten was indeed…very yummly. The backpacker raised his beer glass and toasted, smiling a smile that  could power up the hundred poker machines in the nearby Lion Gate pub. Caught off guard by the gesture and his set of dazzling pearly white teeth, Mrs Cray quickly pulled her iphone from her Prada bag and dialled, turning her back ever so slightly on the handsome man eating sweet and sour claws on table ten.

“Hello Ben? It’s me, I’ve arrived.  I’m in town, opposite the Comedy, just grabbing a quick bite. I’m having claws actually, these ones are supposed to be he best in town.  Jeez Melbourne can really turn it on…the rain I mean…so bloody cold here, not like the Perth. Yes, it’s terrible, a terrible way to go. I’d sooner choke than die like that…like poor John. I cried all last night, honestly. No…I’ve no idea how Barbara is coping, they said they had to cut John out of the car, can you believe it. What do they call those bloody things? You know the cutters?”

“The jaws of death” the backpacker interrupted sucking loudly on a claw, crab claw juice running down his chin.

“Oh…Apparently they’re called the claws of death, Ben.”

“Jaws. Not claws!” the backpacker corrected waving a juicy finger in Mrs Cray direction.

“Oh, yes… Of course. Silly me. Not claws Ben…I meant jaws! Thank you young man” she giggled… like a school girl on her first date.

“You’re most welcome madam” he smiled back tucking into his plate of yummly claws like a dog to a bone.  At that moment, Sue Lin turned the corner holding a large plate of succulent stuffed crab claws, a bowl of curry sauce and a chilled glass of  white wine. Placing the claws delicately on the table, Sue Lin looked Mrs Cray directly in the eye, giggled and skipped out of the room, hanging the closed sign on the door along the way.

How oddly odd thought Mrs Cray, that was too curious. What is wrong with everyone here?

What Mrs Cray didn’t notice was that the backpacker had polished off the entire plate of sweet and sour claws and was starting to feel quite uncomfortably sexual. A peculiar pink flush coloured his cheeks and blood was pumping through his veins like a wild river.

Unaware of the strange air creeping in, Mrs Cray tucked her napkin into the top of her blouse and picked up her first crab claw. It was soft to touch,  familiar and very fresh. She lifted the lid off the curry bowl and dipped the spongy claw into the bubbling curry sauce.  How curious she thought again, it’s boiling but there appears to be no heat.  What followed was more than unexpected, it was curiously curious in fact, Mrs Cray lifted up the curry sauce bowl high above her head and tipped the entire contents over the plate of claws. Mrs Cray had no idea why she just did that, and I suppose in the scheme of things it doesn’t matter.

What’s important is what Mrs Cray didn’t see…She didn’t see the backpacker’s strange reaction to the dumping of the sauce. Slowly he stood up from the table and started to loosen his shirt, heart pumping, eyes dazed. “No matter what happens tonight,’  the backpacker thought to himself, ‘I have to have all those curry claws, and possibly Mrs Cray too.’

“Excuse madam. I don’t mean to be rude but could I share that plate of juicy claws with you. I’m finding the smell of curry and claws too much to resist. I have been travelling for days and the allure of your claws and curry plate is frankly my dear overwhelming.  Please madam I beg you, take your shoes off, relax…share your claws and curry sauce with me, at once. I demand it!”

Mrs Cray could see in the traveller’s eyes he was desperate for her spicy curry…and stuffed claws. Mrs Cray thought long and hard before she answered the extremely good look man who by now was nestling into her right bosom, a stone’s throw from her meal of stuffed claws and curry sauce. Mrs Cray pondered the facts for a brief moment. .. Barbara was after all still an hour away, almost…and Melbourne could be a very lonely place on wet days…and things hadn’t been so good for her recently romantically so…catching a whiff of those claws and that sweet yummly sauce on the backpacker’s breath, Mrs Cray gave the only answer she could, under such curiously curious circumstances.  Mrs Cray simply smiled, winked and said…”YES.”

Mrs Cray didn’t make John’s Funeral that day, something Barbara has never gotten over, why should she?  Mrs Cray didn’t care for Barbara’s opinion of her, her brother John if he was still alive would understand and forgive her, she honestly  believed he would. She never caught up with her best mate Ben either. What Mrs Cray did do was find a hotel room close to The Golden Empress and spent an entire week…eating stuffed Crab Claws with curry sauce and entertaining tired young travellers. 

Around the world, to this very day, male travellers whisper about The Golden Empress, opposite Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. It sells the best stuffed Crab Claws in the world, you know. The perfect place to go when you’re are a stranger in town.

NEXT… A Six Part Web Series – Directed by Noel Anderson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Noel Anderson has directed over 50 theatrical productions, performed as a Ghostbuster in shopping centres, written well into the night when in pain, worked with a helluva lot of people and had the odd breakdown. He believes in the power of pop music and Campbell’s Soup. Noel’s written work includes Hello Little Man (Melbourne Writer’s Social Anthology 2016), Kylie Kastle Throws A Party (performed in schools across the country), Germ Warfare, The Carer, Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes Of Fame and the new Australian musical Audrey Hepburn And I Consider Our Assets  (  fb.me/audreythemusical  ) which premiered at the Melba Spiegeltent on 29th October 2015. Noel is currently working on his first feature film Sammy and Dave and a music video for Audrey and I called ‘Travellers In Time.’ You can follow Noel on Twitter: @Randyandy42 or https://www.facebook.com/noel.anderson42

Noel is a member of the Melbourne Writer’s Social

 

 

An Imperfect Christmas by Noel Anderson

It’s been 38 years since the full moon last appeared on Christmas Day, 1977 in fact…
The young waitress drops a fork, kicks it under a nearby table and totally breaks my train of thought. I look up from my cup and I think. The restaurant is full and the day warmish, I’m sipping coffee dressed in shorts and T-shirt, Melbourne colours of black and grey, while happy Queenslanders all around me dressed in flowery clothing chat away over large serves of pancakes, bacon and eggs.
I flick through the Courier Mail, a terrorist arrested in Sydney, another mindless shooting in Melbourne, is it really Christmas Eve 2015 I wonder?…I’m not sure judging by the headlines…so I check the date on front of the paper wishing the toothache that’s troubled me since arriving at Brisbane airport several days ago would just bugger off. But, the toothache is not going anywhere despite the antibiotics I swallowed an hour ago.
Back to my thoughts…
I bet everyone in this restaurant has their own idea of what makes ‘A Perfect Christmas’ I casually think to myself! Christmas – A time spent with loved ones, family, friends or whomever. I think a little bit more, stirring an extra sugar into my coffee as I run my tongue over my sore tooth…I’m not sure I ever really thought about Christmas in a perfect way before or any event for that matter, I mean what is perfect? I’ve always been attracted to things less than perfect I recall. I remember birthday parties I’ve had only because of what’s gone wrong during the night, dinners that I have totally burnt and ruined beyond salvation and of course blind dates that I’ve had that have gone horribly pear-shaped…
In fact, thinking way too much once again, it’s these imperfect events and days have ruled my life, invaded my memories and (I swear I believe this) have made me a much better person, a stronger man. I mean you can’t enjoy a perfect Christmas without first experiencing several imperfect ones, right?
Yes, it’s the imperfect days and events that rule us, teach us valuable life lessons, help us grow…and that we talk endlessly about years later, and will continue to do so until the end of time probably, or the end of the last Christmas drink. Whatever comes first!
I shuffle in my chair, someone with bleached blonde hair orders a hot chocolate and I shift back to thoughts of imperfection and Christmas.
One imperfect Christmas I clearly remember was when I was living in Docklands and I got a very bad gastric bug and spent almost three days sitting on the toilet, alone. I remember the only thing I wanted was Kentucky Fried Chicken while I squatted, God knows why but I had a mad craving for a juicy fried leg or thigh, I didn’t care really what piece of chicken I ate, I just wanted it. I sat in the bathroom for hours daydreaming about bloody fried chicken, and of course those eleven special herbs and spices. Once I was feeling better, I bolted from my flat, crossed the Yarra River and headed straight to the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop in Crown Casino and I ordered the biggest bucket of fried chicken I could buy. I found a nice place in the sun and I spent all Boxing Day by the Yarra snuggled up to my bucket of fried chicken, daydreaming.
It turned out to be the one Christmas I’d never forget! Why? Because it was imperfect and you just can’t plan Christmas days like that.
I close the newspaper and put it back on the magazine stand and make my way down the street to my sister’s house listening to the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas on my iPhone. As I walk up the driveway I think to myself this will be the first full moon in 38 years, fancy that, and I open the front door…then I think really fast, I should go inside and write something.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Noel Anderson recently directed the six part TV series NEXT…about the perils of online dating which premieres on Foxtel and Apple (We -Are TV) in 2017. Noel completed NIDA’s Playwright Studio 1996, his written work includes: Hello Little Man (Melbourne Writer’s Social Anthology 2016), Kylie Kastle Throws A Party (performed in schools across the country), Germ Warfare (Bondi Pavillion) Pulling Out (Best Writing Winner Midsumma Festival at Gasworks)  The Carer (Belvoir St Theatre), Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes Of Fame (La Mama & the Jewish Museum of Australia), Love Letters (Melbourne Arts Centre) and the new Australian musical Audrey Hepburn And I Consider Our Assets  which premiered at the Melba Spiegeltent on 29th October 2015. Noel is currently working on his first feature film Sammy and Dave (Like Us on FB @sammyluvdave) and a music video for Audrey and I called ‘Travellers in Time.’ You can follow Noel on Twitter: @Randyandy42 or https://www.facebook.com/noel.anderson42  Noel has directed over 50 theatrical productions.

 

BUT, WHAT WOULD AUDREY DO? …FINAL AUDITIONS NOW

Audrey Hepburn’s funny face graced magazines around the world. But, the question every singer or performer wants answered is: ‘What would Audrey do if she saw an audition notice in Melbourne for a new Aussie musical with a Hollywood twist.’

AUDREY INTERVIEW GET WITH IT MAGAZINE 31/07/2015

Harlequin Ink: Hello Audrey.
Audrey: Hello darling. You look simply marvelous, has anyone ever told you that? Well, they should. (She smiles)
Harlequin: Thanks for the compliment. But, the burning question everyone wants to know is what would Audrey do if she saw an audition notice for a new Aussie musical that starred you?
Audrey: Starring me? Oh, darling first I’d pour myself a martini and think about what I was going to wear to the audition. I find the colour PINK very flattering don’t you?
Harlequin: Pink? Well, actually it clashes sometimes with the colour of my eyes after a few beers…/
Audrey: Oh, dear….I find champagne wonderful, I use it as eye drops? But dear we are getting off the subject. What would Audrey do, that’s me…what would I do if I saw an audition notice for a new Aussie musical…/
Harlequin: …to be performed at the Melba Spiegeltent in October 2015 with a live band and the Grace Notes Singers…/
Audrey: Please don’t interrupt darling, I’m thinking. Honestly you are impossible. (She smiles) Now, I’ll tell you’d what I’d do if I was going to audition for Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets a musical set in Melbourne. Hold on…Are you still looking for performers? Really?
Harlequin: Yes, we are. We have several roles still to cast.
Audrey: Oh, in that case the first thing I’d do is…I’d tell my friends, so they can help me pick out what to wear to the audition. I find looking the part really helps a serious performer. Then, I’d learn my lines or song and prepare like a good actor. Then, I’d ask if there was a good looking leading man in the show. And, if he hadn’t been cast I’d suggest a few like Gregory Peck or Rock Hudson. Are you still looking for a good looking leading man?
Harlequin: Yes we are Audrey. And he must be able to sing.
Audrey: Naturally. Oh, I do like it when you curl your nose up Harlequin Ink. (She winks) Darling I do hope you find some fabulous actress to play me too?
Harlequin: We hope so too. We are trying very hard!
Audrey: Well, be a dear and try harder (She sips her martini and smiles brightly) Anyway that’s what I’d do if I saw an audition notice about an exciting musical, I’d get off the couch and just go and audition. I wouldn’t think twice. Performers must perform you know…then I’d have facial and have breakfast at Tiffany’s on Collins Street. That’s what I’d do.
Harlequin Ink: Is that it?
Audrey: Well, no Harlequin Ink, the Paris end of town is always a good idea for shopping don’t you think?

INFORMATION: ROLES STILL TO CAST
We have still to cast the following male and female roles:
Audrey Hepburn – as we know her from her films – aprrox 30 yrs plus.
Rod – The therapist and our leading man – 25 years up to 40ish with looks like a movie star.
Dad – Your typical Aussie dad – lovable and annoying 45yrs to approx 55yrs
Len – Just a bloke from Collingwood and our leading lady’s boyfriend – 30’s to 40’s.

HOW TO AUDITION FOR AUDREY HEPBURN AND I CONSIDER OUR ASSETS
Send your CV, pic and any links to Harlequin Ink: audreypopmusical@yahoo.com.au
All successful applicants will be contacted and given an audition time. A song or two from the show will be emailed to you. On the day you will be asked to read from the script and perform the prepared song. We will be auditioning at The Space on Chapel St Sat 29th  of August.
All performers offered an honorarium (A modest fee)

Director – Noel Anderson (credits include Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame)
Musical Director – John Grant (credits include Carols By Candlelight)
Costume Design – Emily Barrie ( credits include the recent production of Ned)
Set Design – John Wonnacott (Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame)

DISCOUNT PREVIEW TICKETS 29th OCTOBER ON SALE
BOOK NOW: http://www.trybooking.com/IGHH

Also check out our Website
http://www.audreypopmusical.com/

NOTE: Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets will be performed with a live band and a choir at the Melba Spiegeltent, Melbourne. Performance date 29th October – 7th November.
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This is an original Australian musical event!
‘Believe in Pink Melbourne’