Friday, December 22, 2006

after all this time

Ah yes, it's that time of year... when I can't think of anything to blog on about...

Have a peaceful festive season and a year full of wonder

Love nashx

Thursday, December 07, 2006

what's that smell? (click here)

isn't charcoal mean to be a good cure?

and the winner is...

The AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards will be handed out tonight. This year I've managed to see most of the films up for nomination (no mean feat considering not all Aussie films last that long at the cinema). All I'm really concerned about this year is my prediction for winner of Best Actor - Steve Le Marquand for his lead role in Last Train to Freo. What a powerhouse performance he gave as a smouldering, menacing thug. I'm rooting for him...

Also hoping wonderful actress Kris McQuade will pick up an AFI for her role in the comedy Supernova. Fingers crossed

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


So, my eight week acting course has come to an end. It finished on Monday night and it feels like the end of the run of a play. We had 10 students all up, but one woman never came back after her first session. Wonder if she got a refund. I never missed a class. See, I can commit from time to time...

Week One

I had an invitation to the 40th Anniversary party for the ABC's kids' show, Play School. Yes, something I was really looking forward to. But after saying I'd attend I had to bow out gracefully as the celebration clashed with week one of my course. I found out the next day that hardly any of the presenters I was looking forward to gawking at were in attendance anyway, so I felt better about choosing not to go. Besides, I had a great night in class. The first director had us for the first two weeks. I was surprised how easily the feeling of knowing what to do returned. It felt like I hadn't been away from a performance situation at all. In reality it had been about 14 years. Crikey. The group was a balanced mix of males n females (4:5). I was nervous before that first class - what if I was a crap performer after all this time blah blah blah

We were all pretty much at a similar level and they were a friendly bunch to get to know. Most of our exercises involved improvisations and interpreting text. It was a fresh approach for me and I felt the old magic kick in, which means I got a bit of a buzz out of the possible ways of interpreting the written word and my ability to make stuff up on the spot

Week Three

We had a new director who came in for three weeks. He had a different approach, this time making us aware of physical aspects of performance. Once again the class clashed with something I'd really been looking forward to. A couple of weeks earlier I'd won tickets to see the Griffin Theatre adaptation of my favourite book, Holding the Man. I couldn't believe it when it finally dawned on me I couldn't go to see the play. Then the season sold out. It's coming back for a three week season during the Mardi Gras festival next year, but hopefully I'll get to see it this Monday night (they've still got a few tix left for pay-what-you-can punters, but I'll have to queue early). On week four a group of us went for a drink after class. It was the right time and a good opportunity for some of us to meld. Later that night after most people had gone home I ended up boozing with two of my fellow acting students at the Courthouse Hotel at Taylor Square. It was fun. The next night I switched on the telly and there was one of my acting-cum-late-night-drinking buddies doing a guest stint in Home & Away. Very good performer too

Week Six

We got our third director, someone whose plays I've seen and loved over the past few years here in Sydney. I was so excited. When I walked into the rehearsal room I noticed the sunlight coming through the window was forming a rainbow across the floor from the director to where I stood. Ooh, that's a good sign. What a dynamic director. I imagined myself being mesmerised to the point of falling in love - creative types do that to me sometimes. But this caught me off guard, particularly because the director's female. I soon got over it and resumed a professional attitude. The next day I bumped into her at an obscure cafe just around the corner from my house. At the time I'd been thinking about my potential future as an actor. Hmmm

Week seven and I was given a script to learn for week 8. It was the first time I'd had to commit words to memory for ages. A few days after week 7's class I once again bumped into the director at a local cafe. Another good sign, shirley. So then we get to last Monday night. I performed the piece with a fellow actor and it went as well as expected. I stuffed up a line or two, but it didn't matter, we covered up and got on with the job. We got a great reaction from our audience too (the director and other classmates) - we got lots of laughs (for all the right reasons). This bit took me by surprise

After the class, where everyone did inspiring work, it was time to celebrate. Another fun night where once again I ended up boozing at the Courthouse Hotel with my two co-stars from the previous time - a fitting conclusion...

I've thought about what I got out of my experience and I've thought about what I might do next... I think I've got a sense of comedy and timing that can be put to good use somewhere, somehow. I need to work on my voice. Too many years of smoking and I've not completely fucked it up, but it has been damaged. Plus I'm out of practice. Good thing I quit smoking just over a year ago. There's still time to do some worthwhile repair work. The other thing I got out of the class is a whole new bunch of friends. I feel good about my prospects

a step in the right direction

During the course of the 8 weeks I just spent being an actor I came across an auction site for a place in Melbourne that deals in memorabilia and other stuff - autographs, antiques, ephemera etcetera. By chance, I found one auction lot containing old theatre programmes and photographs, including some with autographs. Amongst those that were signed was one of Bettina Welch. I've posted about Bettina before - one of my favourite actresses from Number 96 in which she played arch bitch Maggie "bloody" Cameron. The lot also included an autograph of Letty Craydon, a character actress from stage and screen who died in the 1960s. For a long time she was married to Ron Shand - another favourite cast member from Number 96 (he played Herb Evans). And finally, in the selection of programmes and autographs was one from Natalie Raine. Natalie was an actress/director who died about eight years ago. She also happens to be the first acting teacher I went to when I was about 15. It means a lot to me to come across something personal of hers at this time in my life. I placed my bid on Monday night a week or two ago and headed off to my acting class. When I returned home later that night I had no idea if I'd won - in fact the next day I thought my bid hadn't even been considered and someone else had won the treasures. Then I received an email confirming I was indeed the winning bidder. What a joy! I'm hoping they'll arrive this week. What impeccable timing. I can't wait

Saturday, December 02, 2006

december 1st

So, another World AIDS Day has come and gone. This year I took my time to decide whether I would volunteer to sell red ribbons or not. On Wednesday I emailed my friend Jon to say I had decided against selling ribbons, but I'd like to go to the candlelight vigil with him. About half an hour later I changed my mind and was on the phone to ACON (AIDS Council of NSW) organising a four hour stint in Hyde Park North - selling red ribbons. I had a choice of shifts and chose 3-7pm. I'm glad I did it...

Discovering (admitting?) I am gay came at a time when there was much hysteria surrounding HIV/AIDS. It was the mid 1980s. Had I come out any earlier (just a matter of one or two years), I wonder whether I'd be here writing this post.

At some stage I remember reading a comment from someone who said it's all well and good to wear a red ribbon, but what are people really doing to help the cause. This made a pretty big impact on me and led me to an experience I wouldn't change for anything. In 1994 I volunteered to join the VAC (Victorian AIDS Council). I went to an information session and ended up on a care team. At the time I had just returned to Uni and moved to Thornbury (one of Melbourne's northern suburbs). Being on a care team meant I was put in touch with someone living with HIV/AIDS in my local area. For me, that meant Steph, a gay man in his early 50s who had been diagnosed HIV+ quite a few years (at least 10) before we met. At the time he really defied the odds - it was very rare for anyone to live this long with the virus. Steph's home was within a short walking distance of my place and I vividly recall that first journey from my place to his. It was a journey I made many times over the next few years. Mostly I'd just sit with him and he'd talk (and talk and talk). Originally from New Zealand, he had no family in Australia, few friends and as his health declined he rarely went out.

Then in 1997 I moved across town to Elwood and without a car it made the journey to visit Steph much longer. That didn't last for long. Steph ended up in hospital in Prahran, closer to where I'd moved to. He was in hospital for a long, long time until his death on December 1st. With impeccable timing he left us on World AIDS Day that year. I had the privilege of being with him as he left.

This post does nothing to describe the good that continues to come out of having known this man. It was an unconventional friendship, but one of the most valuable I've ever known. I recognise this almost daily. I was going to write about my experience of selling ribbons today, but that feels insignificant right now. Perhaps another day...

I just want to finish by thanking anyone who bought/sold a red ribbon or wrist band, attended a candlelight vigil or took the time to remember in some way or other
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