One guiding light for me with this book was to never try to analyse what lies behind the ill will towards same sex-attracted people, but to explore how families and individuals so often dig very deep to overcome it.
So when self-described “bootstrapped underdog” international book site Shepherd offered to platform my choice of five books, it was the conquering of homophobia in Australia that informed my list.
“A century of prejudice is laid bare in these books, but within their pages are countless subtle and overt ways that gay Australian men have given homophobes the big middle finger,” I wrote in my introduction.
“We may not always have thrived, but through resistance, migration, verbal agility, notoriety, and sheer resilience, collectively we have conquered.”
These are extraordinary and very different books, and genres aren’t really important unless you’re marketing a title and you need to know where to put it in a catalogue or on a bookshop shelf, but they have many commonalities.
Not that long ago – around the time I was completing final edits on my debut novel Tank Water – I realised that it, too, has a genre. This was a thrilling discovery! Everyone needs friends, after all, and #OutbackNoir is a broad church (probably standing on a barren ridge, or on the edge of a desert) with several side chapels, ruined of course.
It’s an extension of the bookshop darling #RuralFiction, but the use of the French word ‘noir’ (black’) is the clue, suggesting a story that’s dark, perhaps a little bit disturbing, and certainly dramatic. ‘Outback’ speaks for itself… we’re not in the suburbs on this bookshelf.
Speaking of France, darkness and drama, this short clip (below) was recorded on a family trip to Grottes Préhistoriques de Cougnac, just outside Gourdon in that country’s southwest.
I dug it out because my next book, now in that exciting phase of manuscript polishing, and set in the recesses of one of the world’s largest open cave systems right here in NSW, is seeking a genre. I’m not sure #UndergroundNoir even exists, although with a story about a pioneering female cave explorer, I shouldn’t be shy of new territory.
Annie Seaton’s Undara certainly fits the bill, described as #EcoAdventure, but I’m keen to know what other pieces of fiction you’ve encountered that involve journeys beneath the surface of the Earth.
Please dig deep and put your thoughts in the comments thread!
I RECENTLY FRONTED a music hall; an old-school, East-End-of-London line up of rollicking romance replete with all the requisite roister-doister of an era long gone.
How did this happen?
Well, truth be told I tried to get out of it. Twice. It had been fifteen years since I’d trodden the boards of any theatre and part of me wondered if I could still cut it in front of an audience. So I let it be known that the part of Eric von Schneider, master of ceremonies, was up for grabs… but no man in the Deepwater region of NSW would take on this pivotal role. It was up to me to play the lecherous ladies man!
The Deepwater Players have performed a piece of community theatre every couple of years since 1981, when much-needed funds for medical equipment could be raised in no other way. Across those decades, high-school teacher Jenny Sloman has directed the shows, and this year she handed over the reins to Richard Moon (who happens to be my husband… maybe that’s how I got the part?) to make his directorial debut.
The troupe stages its work within the Deepwater School of Arts, a late-Victorian country hall with a proscenium stage that we transformed into the Whitechapel Music Hall Theatre. Community volunteers did everything from feeding audiences to performing the show!
People flocked from across the region. Some even came from Brisbane, Sydney, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast to see us sing, dance and move our way through music, lyrics and steps from Noel Coward to Lady Gaga and Kenny Rogers!
Thanks to Max S. Harding having a camera at a central table, images were captured (please note: despite wearing an extremely convincing wig, it’s not my real hair!).
Phantom of the Music Hall was written in 1996 by Australian playwright Judith Prior and is bursting with comedy of highly questionable political incorrectness. Nevertheless, it manages to say something about diversity.
It’s the story of a misunderstood Phantom (played by Chris McIntosh) who doesn’t like pantomime but stalks the wings of the Whitechapel Theatre, spooking the cast and crew.
Ambitious new owner Mrs Worthington (Katie Newsome) is convinced that pantomime is the way to make money, and is madly pushing actors with questionable abilities – because all of them are actually the backstage crew – including stage hands Charley and Fred (Cath Wheatley and Charlie Coldham), stage manager Arthur (Denis Haselwood), and wardrobe mistress Martha (Jen Lanz) to rehearse Cinderella. Her daughter Millicent Worthington (Monica Newsome) pluckily plays the lead role despite an early encounter with the Phantom that leaves her rather dazzled.
After Queen Victoria (Helen Grant) makes an appearance at the Whitechapel Theatre, things start to come undone like Millicent’s seams. Eric Von Schneider tries one too many moves on the talent – Daphne de Lace (Catie Macansh) – who refuses to go on if the dreaded Phantom makes an appearance.
The efforts required to convince this spectre that a fairytale is in fact a melodrama create a night of hilarous Cockney-themed comedy, proving that we all see things differently, even ghosts and queens!
If you were in the crowd, thanks for coming to support our show.
Phantom of the Music Hall, May-June 2021 by Deepwater Players Deepwater School of Arts Director: Richard Moon Producer: Jen Lanz Designer: Michael Burge Choreographer: Lindy Alt Stage Manager: Mari Grantun Cast: Charlie Coldham, Helen Grant, Denis Haselwood, Jen Lanz, Catie Macansh, Chris McIntosh, Katie Newsome, Monica Newsome, Cath Wheatley, Michael Burge Chorister and Soprano: Christine Davis Featuring: Deepwater’s Cool Choir Lights: Peter Sloman, Rob Wheatley, Jenny Sloman Thanks to all behind-the-scenes, front-of-house, kitchen and bar staff and the Chapel Theatre Glen Innes for the loan of costumes, props and sets