Creative Relationships-how to make them work (Pillow Talk – A #SpectrumNow event) Review

Six well-known creative couples talked openly about their relationships at Spectrum Now’s March festival 2016. They included: David Williamson, Australia’s most successful playwright and his author wife, Kristin, all round entertainer David Campbell and his producer wife Lisa, actor Rob Carlton who played Kerry Packer in the ABC’s Paper Giants series and his wife, writer Adrienne Ferreira, all talked openly about their relationships. They discussed the tough times, how they made it through and what they did to make their creative lives work.

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Photo courtesy of ABC

It was love at first sight for David Williamson when he first met his now wife Kristin, though they were both married to other people at the time, he distinctively remembers what she wore which made him fall head over heals in love with her. Kristin remembers his great charisma and the way he was passionate when talking about his work. They met on his first production of The Removalists. She remembers when doing a play read for him, he was actively gesturing, gregarious and witty which appealed to her. He admitted that he once cast himself in one of his earlier plays, and burst out laughing just before a funny line was delivered. He hasn’t returned to acting since!

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It was a few years later that the two split with their partners at the time, and there was a lot of hurt and pain before coming together as a couple. The Williamson’s greatest challenge came out of their open marriage in the 1970s which led to Kristin writing a list of people she could “bear to be with” as David was doing it, why couldn’t she? It wasn’t until she admitted that she was falling for a man on her list that David changed, cleaned up his act and really started listening to her. He said, “It wasn’t until I felt that I was losing her, I realised I could no longer do this.” David confessed that the whole open marriage thing doesn’t work because “sexual jealousy is deeply rooted in our inner most nature and you can’t emotionally deconstruct it.” It comes with the human psyche. Since that breakdown in their marriage he realised what a treasure he has and together they’ve worked through their relationship battles and Kristin found her own identity and career in journalism, and became known independently. She said what they went through has made their relationship stronger. Together they work as a team. She often reads through David’s drafts and has learned to be careful when putting forth criticisms because in the past he was very sensitive and often over reacted to her suggestions. David said like most writers, he draws on his own personal experiences and writes about them, giving characters different names and alters situations to make them more dramatic. Kristin often discovers when watching his plays on stage pieces of familiar dialogue and says, “That’s what I said to you last night!”

He says what he loves about Kristin is that he’s still attracted to her; he still sees her younger self and loves her inner soul and honesty. Kristin said what she loves best about David is his sense of humour and that he always makes her laugh, his intellect and curiosity in life. That’s what makes their relationship work.

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Photo courtesy of On Broadway album cover

The next creative couple was David and Lisa Campbell. David confessed that it was during The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee  musical when this British woman from the cast of An Inspector Calls came backstage. Back in his drinking days, they had a theatre tradition called Thirsty Thursdays and Magda Szubanski, who was also in the Spelling Bee, invited the Inspector Calls company over for drinks. They were all fangirling over Magda because they loved Kath & Kim and it was her who set him up with Lisa.

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The two hit it off instantly and got together just after three weeks of dating and became engaged in Paris. In 2008 they married and set up their own creative production company Luckiest Productions where they produced all of David’s national tours, as well as other productions. It was only once during David’s 80’s tour that they struggled financially. They admit that they had counselling and joked that it was Lisa who had the counsellor first, then David joined her sessions and ended up taking her counsellor. Discussing things openly and accepting the creative chaos in their lives helps them through their relationship challenges. After David’s 80’s tour he soon landed a regular gig at Channel Nine, co-hosting with Sonia Kruger. Lisa then started producing successful musicals and is currently producing Little Shop of Horrors at Hayes Theatre and reveals what she loves about David is his singing. “When he gets up on stage and starts singing, I fall in love with him all over again because he’s just so talented,” Lisa says. She also admits that he helps her connect with people for her productions. For example she was looking for a voice of authority, with a God-like tone, and Geoffrey Rush was going to do it but then had to pull out so Lee Lin Chin was suggested and David said he could get hold of her because he has a contact at SBS. David says what he loves about Lisa is how she’s a leader, “she’s the boss!”

“What I don’t like about David is his indecisiveness,” Lisa jokes.

David agrees, “Yes, even when I’m ordering, I always ask what the specials are but never order them. I’m just curious and want to know, but I’ll still order the same thing. What I love about Lisa is how she nurtures the next pool of talent coming through and she’s her own institution.”

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 photo courtesy of Saxton.com.au

The last couple was actor Rob Carlton who played Kerry Packer in the ABC’s Paper Giants series and his wife, writer Adrienne Ferreira.

“On our first date Rob wanted to kiss me before dinner! I said no and had to pull the reins in!” says Adrienne.

Rob said they had previously met five years before at university and he wasn’t someone Adrienne was interested in at the time because he was a night owl and loved drinking and smoking. It was five years later when they met again and Rob pursued her. They eventually got together and had two boys and his career grew. He raised money, produced his own TV series and had his own production company, and was on a creative high. It was during this high moment in life that he came home from work one night and made dinner for his family and Adrienne started crying at the dinner table. She said,”I’m not kind enough to you,” (pause). Rob gets up from his seat on stage and tells the audience, “Oh, isn’t that sweet, but wait, then she went on to say, ‘because I don’t like you anymore!” Those words came out of nowhere and shocked him to the core and made him think- OK at least she didn’t bring it up during an argument. She was honest and brave enough to say these words calmly to him and reveal how she’s truly feeling. He then made a list of character flaws of himself and said he’d work on them. During this time Adrienne let out her frustrations by writing a screenplay which was devastating for Rob to read, as the protagonist was a mother who used to get up to mischief on weekends.  She even asked him to direct it. There were so many issues in the play that he uncovered – the comic irony of what the mother in the story was getting up to on weekends was mind boggling for him to read and comprehend. He then thought, OK this is how my wife’s feeling. Rob then announced to her, “You’re responsible for your own happiness, I can’t make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy.”

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From that point onwards they came to an understanding that relationships change and we all evolve, it will never stand still and stay the same. She admitted she was feeling down because she didn’t have her own identity as she was part of his limelight. After writing her screenplay, Adrienne wrote novels and got published. She’s now a successful writer and has her own identity and success.

I’d like to thank them all for sharing their honest stories with everyone so we can learn from their experiences. This was one of my favourite yearly #SpectrumNow events- hearing nothing but honest stories from creatives.

Q and A with Yassmin Abdel-Magied

On Saturday 5th March 2016, I was given the honour to emcee an International Women’s Day event with the launch of Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s book, “Who do you think I am?” at Westfield Burwood.

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ABOUT YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED

Yassmin was born in the Sudan, and her parents moved to Brisbane when she was two and has been tackling barriers ever since. At 16 she founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation focused on helping young people to work for positive change, in their communities. In 2007 she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year and in 2010 Young Queenslander of the Year. In 2011 Yassmin graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and in 2012 she was named Young Leader of the Year in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards.  Yassmin has now been awarded Youth of the Year in the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards. And Penguin Random House is contributing royalties of her book, “Who do you think I am?” to Youth Without Borders.

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During my discussion I was able to record some of Yassmin’s replies to my questions below.

Joy: Your book launched just five days ago, what inspired you to write this book?

Yassmin: I generally wanted to write a story I wished was out there. When I grew up, there were no stories out there about Muslim women, no one I could identify with. I had a chat with my mum and told me to tell our story. My mentors are my parents – Mum and Dad.

Joy: When you write, do you pretend you’re writing to one person or a group of people?

Yassmin: One. I started out writing like a diary. It was like a place where I vented. (crowd laughs)

Joy: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Yassmin: First I think, why do we need just one day? Why can’t it be everyday? Then I think it’s a good time to recognise and highlight important issues involving women, putting it out on the table for the world to see. It’s an empowering day for women. A day to discuss equal parity and gender equality.

Joy: How do you hope you can be an inspirational Australian woman in today’s fast-paced world of social media, changing perceptions and ideas?

Yassmin: Because there’s such a wide reach thanks to social media and the net, I hope people can look at what I do and say, “If she can do it, so can I!”

Joy: What advice would you give your younger self?

Yassmin: Don’t be in such a rush and just have patience. When I was younger I would be at full speed, and when mum asked me why was I in a rush, I’d reply, “I could die next week!” (crowd laughs)

Joy: You have received many accolades for your community work, is there one award that stands out for you?

Yassmin: Yes I once took up roller blading and I won a good VIBE award! (crowd laughs)

Audience question by Nicole: What would your advice be for more diversity in the media?

Yassmin: Take on jobs in the media and be engaging and connected with people in the media. Get sponsored by someone or be taken under the wing of someone who is established in the media and learn from them.

It was such a pleasure to interview such a humble yet inspiring woman like Yassmin. I wish her all the best. Yassmin’s story, “Who do you think I am?” is out now at all good book stores. EnJOY!

 

Unearthing Creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert at Seymour Centre (Sydney Writers Festival)

One of my favourite Sydney Writers Festival events so far is Unearthing Creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert. I love her honesty, wisdom and humbleness when speaking to an audience of hundreds at the Seymour Centre. I must admit I tune out and am no longer a fan of those who are arrogant and think they’re better than the average person because in reality, we’re all part of the human race and experience the same emotions, fears and even life’s ailments! But with Elizabeth Gilbert, she never fails to inspire.

 

I particularly enjoyed hearing her thoughts on creativity, embracing it and facing the world with courage and not fear. At sixteen she made a vow to herself, it was the day she got married to writing and committed herself to a life of writing. She said, “I will support you and you will support me. I will take care of us.” Elizabeth feels that everyone starts off being creative. “Everyone is curious. If you put Lego in front of a child, no child is going to say, I’m not into this today.” The result of someone not being creative is partly due to the fact that someone earlier on in their lives put them down, perhaps a teacher or a parent, or friend. And usually when the person re-enters their creativity again, they start where they’ve left off as a child. They start writing or painting or drawing where they’ve left off. Elizabeth says, “There’s no good reason to not do it. Nothing else makes you feel connected to people. Choosing a life of creativity is a path of curiosity not fear.”

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She then went on to explain that there are two levels of creativity, one that is driven by ego, who is competitive and is never satisfied and the other that is unfolding something that is soulful and content in one’s own path of curiosity, no one else’s. To be creative, you’re in “the zone” – being engaged in the flow or stream. Also it is “a break from the anxiety of who you are. That is Big magic!”

Elizabeth encourages people to do something creative for thirty minutes a day, and eventually, “maybe not the first day but maybe on the 10th day, big magic will happen!” When writing, Elizabeth writes as if she is talking to one person. She feels that if you are talking to everyone, no one will hear you, but when you are writing as if you are talking to one person, everyone will hear you. With her first book, Eat Pray Love she is writing as if she is talking to her friend – Darcy.

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When a person in the audience asked her, “I’m worried about my friend making a the wrong creative decision in her life…” Elizabeth answered, “You should be only worrying and focusing on your own path, not your friend’s. She has her own path to learn and make mistakes from.”

Another audience member asked, “I want to start writing a book but I’m worried about what a family member will think.” Elizabeth replied, “You should ask yourself if that’s an excuse playing in your mind to not want to start writing and do the work, because most of the time, the thing you think someone will be upset about will not be the thing the person is upset about.” Elizabeth gave an example of how someone was upset about a reference that they had size 11 feet, nothing else but just that! The crowd laughed.

“Do you still meditate?” one audience member asked. Elizabeth replied, “I take silent baths which replaces my meditation.” Everyone laughed again. “Some people may call it napping but I call it my ‘silence bath’ and afterwards I feel much better and ready to be creative.”

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Who better than to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak – the creative guru herself! They always say, life’s about learning. That was one good creative life lesson jam packed into an hour session. Thank you Elizabeth.

Big Magic is out now at all good book stores.

Q and A with The family Law’s Trystan Go

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Introducing The Family Law‘s Trystan Go, the actor whose credits also include The King And I and plays Benjamin Law in the small screen adaptation of the best-selling memoir about life on the Sunshine Coast in 1990s, Queensland.
Joy: Congratulations on a wonderful performance and season of The Family Law on SBS. How did your acting career start?

Trystan: It all started when I was in a play called ‘The Quiet Brother’ which I did in the quaint little country town of Harrietville. The play was a dark, period drama about the Chinese gold field riots so it was quite the opposite of this cringe-worthy comedy, ‘The Family Law’. I guess I caught the acting bug so I took various classes at NIDA and Brent St to broaden my knowledge on performing. Since then, I’ve done several other plays and was recently cast as The King of Siam’s eldest son, Prince Chulalongkorn in Opera Australia’s ‘The King and I’. Performing classics like ‘Getting To Know You’ with Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes at The Sydney Opera House every night was one of the most sumptuous experiences of my life! ‘The Family Law’ was my first breakthrough role on screen and I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to work in Theatre, Musical Theatre and Television!

Joy: Who were your role models in film and television growing up in Australia?

Trystan: In primary school, I watched Play School. Even my Grandma would marvel at the fact that there was someone with Asian heritage on television. This is why I’m loving that channels like SBS and ABC are introducing and promoting multiculturalism in the media. I also admire Jay Laga’aia from Wicked The Musical for his versatility in performance as he has done films, television, theatre and music.

Joy: What would your dream acting role be?
Trystan: I think any role that is wacky and unique is the role I’d enjoy playing, which is partly the reason why I loved playing Benjamin Law so much. I mean, how often do you get to dress up in a watermelon costume, with a stark red face and dance around in front of hundreds while playing the clarinet?! Then again, I’d also love to play a really dark, serious and scary character…maybe a Chinese ​Phantom from ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ as there has already been ​an African-American one.​ Or I could move up the hierarchy and play The King of Siam in ‘The King and I’. So I guess you could say that I would be happy with any challenging role that is thrown my way.
Joy: Do you think there’s enough diversity in Australian Film and TV?
Trystan: Growing up in the 21st Century, I haven’t seen too much diversity on our Australian Screens. Of course there would be the odd Asian typecast here and there but apart from that, I think our screens are lacking a bit of ‘colour’.
Australia is an incredibly multicultural society, however I don’t think that this is reflected enough in Australian productions. It would be wonderful to see an ethnic lead in an Australian feature film or sitcom​.​ This is why I am so pleased that Matchbox Pictures has produced ‘The Family Law’ and that I’ve been a part of this ground-breaking production.  It’s a sitcom about an Australian family which just so happens to be Asian.
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Joy: Where would you like to see yourself in 20 years time and why?
Trystan: I definitely would want to be in more productions, however I’d also really love to run a major hotel chain​ as I’d practically bathe in warm dessert buffets and international canapés. I might even make use of the 50metre heated pool​ before hand!

 

Fabulously Creative with Walter Mason

Walter Mason did a wonderful Fabulously Creative workshop for writers this week at Ashfield library.

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Walter’s first book, Destination Saigon was published at the age of 40 and says, “Anything fabulous can happen at any age in your life!”

He started the workshop with us closing our eyes and we had to think about our intentions for the workshop, “What I want to do is…” and then after a minute or so Walter rang a beautiful sounding bell, reminiscent to the bells you hear at temples. The beautiful sound echoed through the room, I felt like I was being transported into a Buddhist monk retreat.

 

He shared with us “fabulous people” who inspired him as a writer. They include:

  • Rabelais (1483-1553) who came to Walter in a dream and was a writer, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, master of crude jokes and songs. He was a monk who often wrote about getting drunk and many other salacious stories. The lesson he learned from him – “Write warmly and take delight in everyday life.” A wonderful Rabelais quote was, “Wisdom can’t enter an unkind heart.” I really love this quote.
  • Ouida (1839-1908) was the pseudonym of the English novelist Maria Louise Ramé. She lived at Langham hotel in London and ran up huge hotel and florist’s bills, and commanded soirees that included soldiers, politicians, literary lights (including Oscar Wilde, Algernon Swinburne, Robert Browning and Wilkie Collins), and artists (including John Millais), “A little scandal is an excellent thing; nobody is ever brighter or happier of tongue than when he is making mischief.” The lesson learned – “Go to the places that inspire you.”
  • Baron Corvo (Frederick Rolfe) (1860-1913) was an English writer, artist, photographer and eccentric. He often carried eccentric and peculiar notebooks and pens and often had a story to tell for everything he had. Lesson: Write extravagantly and with style, and always keep eccentric notebooks.
  • E.F. Benson (1867-1940) An English novelist, biographer, memoirist and represented England at figure skating. He was a precocious and prolific writer, publishing his first book while still a student. Principally known for the Mapp and Lucia series about Emmeline “Lucia” Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp. Lesson: “Observe the world minutely and always look for stories in people and the places you encounter each day.
  • Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. She often spent one day of the week in bed! She had an ostentatious style due to her costumes and was an outrageous person, born with a twisted spine. Lesson: “Be noteworthy.”
  • Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) was an English poet, novelist and garden designer. Lesson: “Cherish every moment in life and write about it. There is never a perfect time-all stages of life are worth celebrating.”
  • Elinor Glyn (1864-1945) was a British novelist and scriptwriter who specialised in romantic fiction which was considered scandalous during her time. Lesson: “Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.”

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We then did some fabulous writing activities. They include the following:

  • 50 words – CREATIVE BLURB ABOUT YOU

Walter asked us to write a 50 words blurb about ourselves within 5 minutes. There was however one other small restriction placed onto us, and that was that we had to include one special word – one that was pulled out from his blue bag filled with typed words. My special word was, DROP!

So I wrote – Joy Hopwood’s a creative who works in the arts and entertainment industry. She founded the Joy House Film Festival and does creative kids workshops in schools as part of her “Kindness is for Free” workshops, an anti-bullying and racism initiative, with her DROP dead gorgeous Wong Side of Life puppets.

We all read out our blurbs and some other people had to include words such as “damage,” “bang,” “bake,” “pumpkin,” “chase” and so on.

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  • RECALLING YOUR WRITER MOMENT

We then had to write down a time in our lives that made us think we were writers.

I recalled a time in year 7, at school, when our class had to write down procedures of looking after our pets. I wrote about my pet goldfish and at the end of my story I wrote, “This is how I look after my goldfish, even though he died last week!” After reading it out loud, the classroom erupted into laughter and my teacher said, “I always enjoy reading your work Joy, because of the honesty and humour you put in your stories. Your stories often put a smile on my face.” This was the first moment in my life that I thought I could be a writer.

  • WRITE DOWN YOUR FEARS

Walter made us all address our fears and told us of an incident when one writing teacher told her class to get their names printed on business cards with one word job description underneath – “WRITER.” This affirmation made the class think differently about themselves. One of my favourite activities was when we all had to draw a vertical line in the centre of our pages and write down our fears on the left side and then a positive counteraction on the other side. For example on one side of the page I wrote, “My writing is untidy,” and on the right side of the column I wrote, “My writing is neat,” and so on. After everyone wrote down their lists of fears we were then instructed to tear off and throw away our fears and have our positive affirmations displayed near our computers or writing place. Walter stressed that it does matter how we talk to ourselves and that he once completed a 12-step programme of, “Fake it until you make it!”

  • FLASH FICTION

Writing and telling a story in 300 words is called flash fiction. By starting the story off with the action makes the story immediate and dynamic. Many flash fiction stories omit the set up of the story, and just went straight to the action.

For example, “My bird flew out of hands and dived into a world of the unknown…” or “He walked out on me after I confessed…” and so on.

  • PROMPT BOX

Walter told us about Twyla Tharp’s prompt box. Tharp is a dancer and choreographer who’s produced over 130 dances and ballets over the last 40 years. She believes that creativity can be learned and implemented for the world to savour and enjoy and often uses the “prompt box” technique. Twyla Tharp explains her filing organisation/ creativity project started system: “I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me. he box makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet. It also represents a commitment. The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I’ve started work.”

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  • CREATIVE SHOPPING BAGS

Walter also told us about his creative teacher, Jan Cornwall who has “creative shopping bags.” Each bag holds items that inspire the writing process. Walter said that his teacher has one bag titled – My memoir, another – My creativity and so on. This is another wonderful creative idea for story and writing stimulation.

Like myself, Walter has journals. He says journal writing stimulates a part of our brain into action. By writing one page a day, in bullet points is a great start; you can use it for articles or for writing a book. To conclude the workshop we wrote down our future dazzling successes, in five years time.

I asked Walter what gives him joy in his life and he replied, “It gives me joy doing the thing I want to do. It gives me joy helping other people, realising and reaching their dreams. I get really excited when I see other people doing something they want to do and if I can help them in any way it really thrills me. It gives me joy being with people I love and it gives me joy to be loved in return. It gives me joy that I have done something that makes someone happy.”

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Walter has two books published, Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia, I strongly recommend them. He writes with great passion and humour. He has a few talks and workshops coming up. Here’s the link http://www.waltermason.com

Enjoy!

Q and A with Indira Naidoo about her latest book “The Edible City”

Indira Naidoo is a renowned journalist, best known as SBS News host. In 2006 she became media manager and spokeswoman for Choice magazine and then in 2009 was one of 261 candidates selected to be trained in Melbourne by former US Vice President Al Gore to conduct regular presentations about the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Her first book, The Edible Balcony, was an instant best seller. Yesterday, Indira launched her second book, The Edible City at the Sydney School of Mechanics. I had the pleasure of interviewing her today for my blog.

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The transition from media into environmental activism was an easy one for Indira, because she often reported on issues such as the environment, sustainability and climate change-issues she was passionate about. When working at Choice, rain water tanks were illegal at the time, but today, they’re all part of ‘every day living’ and ‘sustainability.’ It all started when a market farmer gave Indira a tomato to taste, and when she bit into it, she was in heaven. “It was the best tomato I’ve ever tasted,” Indira said. This inspired her to transform her 20 metres balcony to an edible garden consisting of fruit, vegetables and herbs. David Wenham approached her after buying her first book The Edible Balcony to become the Wayside Chapel Ambassador, because her book inspired him to transform his small balcony to an edible garden.

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Indira helped transform The Wayside Chapel‘s rooftop to an edible garden. And in July 2015 they installed a bee hive in the corner of the garden, so they now have delicious honey. There are horticulture / garden volunteers who help daily and homeless people too. Jon, a gardener there says, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy.” The Wayside chapel’s garden help feed the homeless and gives a constant supply of nutritious and tasty food to their wonderful cafe too. Even Kylie Kwong’s restaurant Billy Kwong even uses the Wayside Chapel’s honey in their pork buns.  The Wayside Chapel cafe is open to the public weekdays. At Christmas (2015), 600 homeless people came to the Wayside Chapel’s Christmas lunch and most of the food was produced by their own edible garden!

Today, Indira spreads her message of sustainability to schools, corporate businesses, councils and governments, not only in Australia but overseas too, (e.g. New York) “making urban spaces liveable” is a passionate mission of hers. I had the pleasure of interviewing Indira for my blog.

What gives you joy now in your life these days?

“Probably things to do with growing, gardens and food I guess and friends and family to share it with. Food is about as intimate as our connection with nature gets, putting it our mouths. The intimacy that comes from gardens and food.”

Who were your role models growing up?

“I’ve got lots of areas of interest – political leaders, presidents and prime ministers and political activists. From Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, JFK, David Attenborough, Gough Whitlam.”

What are your views on diversity now in Australian film, television and in the media? Do you think it’s getting better?

“I think in the last fifteen years we gained a lot of ground in the 70’s and early eighties and late nineties and in the new century it’s been wound back. A lot about how we value diversity and multiculturalism, generally in our community and in the arts I’d say it’s not looking as rosy as the path we were on about 15 years ago and a lot of that has to do with the political leadership of the country which hasn’t sold the value of diversity. And so a lot of it comes connected to that, whether it’s arts bodies, theatre groups and television shows, it all flows on from the prime ministers of our time and how much they value diversity, so I think we’ve gone back a little bit in the last fifteen years.”

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In your latest book, Jon said, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy,” do you think our society is slowly becoming to value the importance of community or our economy these days?

“We just have to look at the news each night, how it covers stories like finances, houses and properties and how it talks about the economy and not much about this poor old lady across the road. There isn’t a lot of regard paid to the value of community, there’s a lot of emphasis on the economy and growing wealth, money and finances, so I think we’ve lost the balance, we’re out of balance at the moment and we need to go back to value the community.”

What would you like people to take away after reading The Edible City? And what would your legacy be?

“If I can just open people up to look at their living spaces in a different way and then they can bring more nature into the city and their lives and engage them to grow their own food, like lettuces, as there’s a real joy attached to that. It’s a lot of fun. Once you grow that seed and watch that seed germinate and then see the fruit and being able to eat what you grow, is just such a wonderful, joyous connection to nature and our environment. It’s just so tasty and delicious. Once you start that journey, you’ll never look back, bringing more nature and green into our cities it can only be better for our quality of life and overall happiness.”

What an inspiring woman Indira Naidoo is! The Edible City is now available at all good bookstores and The Wayside Chapel (The Wayside Chapel 29 Hughes Street, Potts Point, 2011. Phone: 02 9581 9100) has a tour coming up at the end of February 2016. The Wayside Café is open Mon – Fri 9am-7.30pm Sat 9am – 4:30pm Sun 12pm – 4:30pm. I’ll see you there!

 

Alex and Eve the movie (review)

On Thursday, the 15th of October 2015, I attended MEAA’s (Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance) preview screening of Alex and Eve the movie.

Alex and Eve the movie is based on the stage play by Alex Lykos, which over 35k people attended since 2006 when it was first performed. The film is directed by Peter Andrikidis.

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When Richard Brancatisano (Alex) appeared on the big screen, female audience members swooned over his charismatic screen presence accompanied by his good performance delivery. Richard plays Alex, a school teacher in his thirties whose parents want him to marry a good Greek girl. Alex falls helplessly in love with Eve. Eve, (Andrea Demetriades who also gave a good natural performance), plays a lawyer whose parents are Lebanese Muslin. They desperately try to arrange her marriage with another Muslim which causes great conflict in the film. The story is set in Sydney with great cinematography highlighting the best of Sydney Harbour.

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What struck me the most was the impressive young ensemble cast who played Alex’s students. They were outstanding with their comic deliveries and timing, making the audience laugh throughout the film. They include: Nathan Melki (Chris), Emma-Jane MacKinnon-Lee (Mandy), Katerine-Ann MacKinnon-Lee (Sarah), Chloe Condylis (Rima) and not forgetting Rahel Romahn (Shadi, Eve’s brother).

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Strong performances were also noted by Tony Nikolakopoulos who played the obnoxious George (Alex’s Dad) and Simon Elrahi (Bassam – Eve’s Dad). Alex Lykos also made a wonderful appearance as Stavros.

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A trademark of Alex’s work is that it reflects the modern multicultural Australia in which we currently live in today. His writing is precise, straight to the point with no waffling and always has great, unexpected comedic moments. I feel that he’s an underrated writer who deserves much more. I hope Alex and Eve the movie will be embraced by the general public and his peers, giving him global opportunities to make more diverse comedic films internationally. He has definitely set the benchmark for more diverse Australian films of this calibre to be made.

Alex and Eve the movie opens in cinemas on 22nd October 2015.

8.5 / 10

Other audience members’ comments.

“Alex and Eve” is about multicultural Australia at its best. There have been many films of late about cross-cultural relationships – the beauty of this one is that it doesn’t shy away from the problems, and is deeply embedded in the local.” Sukhmani Khorana

“It was the first I felt I was the target demographic for a film being a first generation Aussie middle Easterner! And it had some great laughs.” Mansoor Noor

Photos courtesy of Alex and Eve the movie.

INTERVIEW WITH ALEX LYKOS HTTP://WP.ME/P28EWC-KZ

 

Interview with Alex Lykos (Alex and Eve the movie)

Alex Lykos grew up in Australia. In the early 1990s he won a tennis scholarship at the Western Kentucky University. Lykos continued playing tennis at a professional level until returning to Australia in 1999. He then began writing film and play scripts, and in 2006 formed the Bulldog Theatre Company. Alex wrote several successful stage plays including Alex and Eve, Better man, A Long Night and It’s War. Last week I interviewed this successful, multitalented, yet humble actor / writer whose work is to be commended because his stories and selection of cast always reflect diversity in modern Australia.

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1) When you were growing up in Australia who were your role models?

Actually, when I was growing up I was as far removed from the arts as possible. I used to play tennis and my idols were Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Michael Chang…Once I got into the arts, I admired the work of Woody Allen and Cameron Crowe.

2) What made you want to break into Australian Theatre / TV / Film?

When I finished playing tennis, I was at a crossroads. I was a bit cheeky in school so I thought, at the ripe old age of 28, why not do an acting course. I found I enjoyed it. In the meantime, all the photos I took while I was in America, I placed in an album and wrote little bits about each photo. I found I enjoyed that and then proceeded to write a story about my time in America…which by the way I read again, about 6 months ago and is by the worst screenplay in history!!!

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3) What motivated and inspired you to write Alex and Eve the play and then the movie?

I had watched several romantic comedies and they all came from a the female’s perspective. SO I wanted to write a story which explored the angst a mid 30s male has in trying to find somebody. Then I had met someone from a different religious background and thought, mm, that might be interesting to explore. Put the two ideas together and Alex & Eve was born.

4) Do you see a positive change to colourblind casting in Australian film/ TV / Stage & do you incorporate this in your writing & casting?
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I actually am starting to see that there is a bit more of an effort to cast CALD actors. Its a process and hopefully films like Alex & Eve, UnIndian and televisions shows The Principal will continue to aid in the changing of the guard so to speak.
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5) What changes do you want to see happen in the entertainment industry?
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There are all kinds of changes that I would like to see happen. More of  a focus on Australian content across theatre, TV and film would be great.
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6) Alex and Eve the movie is coming out in October, what do you want audiences to take away from this movie?

If the audience goes away smiling having had a good time and perhaps have a bit of a think about their own views about people not from their ethnic background, then I would be pleased.

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Alex and Eve is in cinemas on October 22, 2015.

                                         ABOUT ALEX AND EVE

ALEX AND EVE is based on the hit stage play by Alex Lykos, who also wrote the screenplay and was produced by Murray Fahey. The original stage play was first performed in Sydney in 2006, since then over 35,000 people have seen productions of the play in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Alex and Eve is directed by Peter Andrikidis and stars Richard Brancatisano and Andrea Demetriades as star crossed lovers whose parents forbid them to marry. Alex is a handsome school teacher in his mid thirties and his parents want him to marry a good Greek girl. Alex falls hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Eve, a lawyer, whose parents are Lebanese Muslim. Like oil and water, the two should never mix, only how can they stop themselves from falling in love?

Executive Producers Martin Cooper, Bill Kritharas and Producer Murray Fahey secured finance for the production in 2014. Filming commenced June 2014 and took place over five weeks in Canterbury, Lakemba, Glebe, Haberfield, Homebush, the Rocks, Croydon, Belmore, Auburn, and Leichhardt.

ALEX AND EVE is a family comedy about dating in modern day multicultural Australia.

Photos and Alex and Eve synopsis courtesy of Alex and Eve the movie.

http://alexandeve.com.au/

“Colourblind Casting Prevails” (Joy’s interview with Tony Ayres in this month’s MEAA magazine)

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The Joy House Film Festival 2015

The third Joy House Film Festival was on Sunday the 13th September 2015.

All the guests were delighted to receive a free showbag full of goodies on

arrival. A great variety of films were selected in the programme.

(They included animation, chick flick, stopmotion animation, drama,

documentary, comedy, music video) with the main theme of JOY & diversity.

The best 15 short films were selected out of 96 entries. The judges included

The Mayor and renowned actress Menik Gooneratne.

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THE WINNERS LIST

The Present (animation) won this year’s Media Super’s Best Short Film.

Directors Jacob Frey .Writers Jacob Frey, Fabio Coala

Producers Anna MataczJacob Frey) Germany

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BENDIGO BANK’S BEST YOUTH FILM winner went to Marriage Equality

AUS (YOUTH entry- animation. Written / Directed / Produced and narrated

by Josh Lorschy)

BENDIGO BANK’S BEST SCHOOL KIDS’ WORKSHOP – claymation went to

The Perfect Pasta. (Written, Produced and Directed by Scott Petersen)

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HOYTS PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD winner was Silence is Golden.

(Writer / Director / Producer: Katharine Rogers) Australia.

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NORTH SHORE DRAMA’S BEST DIVERSITY was Game On

(Written, Directed and Produced by Jennie Crystle) US

Game On

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