This is the first post I'm writing after getting back from our delightful road trip. It truly was delightful. I wish we could drive EVERYWHERE, and never take a plane again. I hate airports and airplanes. It's just that driving doesn't allow you much time in your destination if there are time restraints. Also, driving doesn't allow for much international travel.
Anyway, I have no idea who David Williamson is. I wonder if he's related to John Williamson, the singer.
Well, Lord Wiki says that David Williamson is a playwright. Didn't John Williamson do a few plays as well? Well, I think he did one musical at least. The two men might not be related, but they do sort of have the play thing in common.
Baby David was born on my dad's birthday....February 19. But he was born seven years before my dad.
Williamson was born in Melbourne, but spent most of his childhood in Bairnsdale, Victoria. Google Maps has that at about four hours west of Melbourne. It looks like it's not too far from the Snowy Mountains.
Williamson attended the University of Melbourne. He started out in the engineering path. I wonder if that was of his choice, or whether he was pressured by his parents. The theater thing began with him participating in something called the Engineer's Review at the University's Union Theater. Cute. He helped write the skits, and he acted in some of them. I'm guessing this was mostly for fun....like the skits you do at camp or at sleepovers.
Lord Wiki says that Williamson graduated from Monash University. I guess he switched schools? Or maybe he went to Monash for his graduate studies? It looks like he actually stayed with the engineering path for awhile. I initially got the impression that he changed school majors. But he worked as an engineer at Holden for a few years. He did car stuff, I suppose. He also worked briefly as a lecturer at Swinburne University. I'm assuming he taught engineering type stuff.
Although there's actually a theater at Swinburne University named after Williamson. Maybe he taught playwriting there, and not engineering.
Lord Wiki says that Williamson started writing plays in 1967, and by 1970 he was fairly successful and well known.
In 1971, he did a play called Don's Party. It's about the 1969 Federal Election. A Labor supporter has a party, imagining their team is going to win. But then things don't go as they imagined or planned. Who won the 1969 election? I'm guessing Gorton or McEwen?
Anyway, in 1976, the play was made into a movie directed by Bruce Beresford. I remember his name. He's the one who did Breaker Morant and Driving Miss Daisy. Oh! He also did the Barry McKenzie movies. That, I did not remember.
Okay, I got my answer to the 1969 election question. My Internet is a bit slow right now. It was Gorton that won, and he ran against Whitlam.
Here's Don's Party on IMDb. I scrolled through the actors to see if there was anyone I recognize. The only one was John Gorton. Apparently, he did a cameo appearance. Or they might have just shown archival footage on a television...something like that.
The movie earned Williamson an AFI award.
Here's a trailer for the movie. It looks pretty good to me. Have any of you seen it? It seems to be more about human behavior at parties than the actual election. The election is more of a backdrop.
Another play that Williamson did in 1971 was called The Removalists. It seems to be a fairly dark story--deals with domestic abuse. From what I'm reading, it seems to have some irony. A police officer plays the hero as he rescues a woman from her abusive husband. Yet, this police officer is a violent bully as well. In 1975, it was made into a movie.
YouTube has a scene from a theater performance.
I just scrolled down to Lord Wiki's list of Williamson's plays. It turns out there was one before Don's Party and The Removalists. This was called The Coming of Stork. It was written in 1970, and turned into a movie in 1971. I guess the later two plays brought him more attention.
Williamson has written a lot of plays. I'm kind of overwhelmed.
Maybe I'll go through each one, but stop if it gets to be too much.
Before that though, let me see if Lord Wiki has anything exciting about Williamson's life.
Well, he helped write the screenplays for Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously. Those are both Peter Weir films, right? And they both also starred Mel Gibson.
One of his recent plays (Up for Grabs) starred Madonna. I'll probably read more about that later.
Williamson helped start a festival in Noosa called the Noosa Longweekend Festival. Their next festival is taking place in June.
He worked as a campaign manager for Cate Molloy, who was trying to get the Noosa seat of Parliament for the Labor Party. It looks like she didn't win.
Williamson is married to the sister of an independent filmmaker. His two stepsons are actors. One of them starred in a production of The Coming of Stork.
All right. Now I'm going to make my way through this massive list of plays. Well, first I'm going to feed the cats and myself. Also, I'm going to watch Jack play our new Wii Fit. We went out and bought that today. My mother--in-law had it, and Jack loved it. I think both Jack and I could use a little more exercise, so we decided to fulfill Jack's wish of buying it.
Okay. I'm back. Jack's still having his turn to play, so I didn't have a chance to sign myself up for the fitness program thing. I'll do that later.
I already talked about Williamson's first three plays. The next one was called Juggler's Three. That was done in 1972, the year I was born. This Flinders University site says the title was eventually changed to Third World Blues.
The Performing Arts Collection of South Australia has some information about the play. It was first done by the Melbourne Theater Company. Later in 1996, Williamson rewrote it, and gave it a new title. I can kind of relate to this....the whole rewriting thing. Williamson talks about how, when he wrote the play, he had a very one-sided and negative view of soldiers in the Vietnam War. Later, as he got older, his viewpoint changed a bit. He began to understand that people are much more complex, and shouldn't be presented as cardboard villains.
One of the novels I wrote in high school was The Dream Games. The mothers of the two protagonists were very simplistic and unsympathetic. Why? I was a teenager. Like most people of that age, I had very little understanding of the adult world. When I rewrote the novel in 2006, I was a mother myself. I used my experiences and parental feelings to try to make the characters slightly more sympathetic.
I think young people are more likely to see things in black and white. When we're older, we're more likely to see the grays.
The next play was What if You Died Tomorrow? I'm a morbid person. Hardly a day goes by without me asking a question like that. I guess you can say that I DON'T take life for granted.
I can't find that much about the play, except for the fact that in 1974, Ruth Cracknell starred in a production of it.
Well, I'm already thinking I'm going to skip some of these plays. I'll do a quick search on each of them. If I find enough information, I'll talk about the play. If I don't find enough information, I'm not going to mention it.
This article from Quadrant Online mentions Willaimson's 1976 play A Handful of Friends. It says a character in the story might have been based on Williamson's wife Kristen. The article is actually about a biographical book written by Kristen Williamson (David's wife). It says, David Williamson has never forgotten an insult, or a good grievance. That reminds me of myself. The one thing I AM good at remembering is the things people have done to hurt or offend me. And I do think writing helps to work through all that. Now I have this blog, but in the past I had novels and screenplays.
The author of the article says, The use of real people in his plays, and the betrayal this implies, is not explored deeply by Kristin, even though her own experiences of David’s artistic cannibalism may have warped their marriage as much as his sexual exploits.
I think that's pretty harsh, but true in some ways. The thing is, I think most writers use this so-called artistic cannibalism. Our ideas for stories and characters are usually inspired by our own lives. And our lives involve other people. I can't imagine NOT writing about the people in my life. And for me, it's therapeutic. Instead of telling a therapist about people annoying me, I write it in this blog. I usually try to be vague enough that people don't know exactly who/what I'm referring to. I usually try to leave out exact dates and names. I can think of only one time I've gotten someone mad at me for this, and ironically I was actually NOT referring to that person when I wrote the entries. Subconsciously....maybe? I doubt it though. It was more of a case of me writing something and then forgetting that it applied to someone who frequently read my blog.
Many people today are characters in their family member's blog. It's hard to write about our lives without writing about our spouses, parents, children, siblings, etc. Are lines crossed in terms of privacy? Probably. I guess I should be grateful that Tim and Jack are tolerant of all this. I don't reveal EVERYTHING about our lives. I do keep a lot of things private. I do wonder how it feels though to be them. I don't know much about how it feels to be on the other side. No one else in my immediate family has a blog. If one of my sister's had a blog, how would I feel? What would I be okay with them talking about, and what would make me email them with a I can't believe you told people that! And would I ever read something and write, Hey! I know you're referring to ME in that entry! I can't believe you think that about me!
Neither of my sisters read my blog, although one did a few times after I started whining about it. Tim suggested they're worried they might find stuff about them in it. I wonder if that's true. See, I'd probably be the opposite though. If they had a blog, and I suspected I'd be mentioned in it, I'd want to see what they were saying.
I do TRY to be discreet. If a massive fight occurs, I'm more likely to write about general feelings and philosophies rather than give a blow to blow detailed account of the fight. The latter I save for private emails to friends.
Shit. I'm rambling. I need to get back to these plays.
In 1977, we have a sport related play called The Club. Like Don's Party, this one was also turned into a Bruce Beresford film. Williamson was nominated for an AFI award, but he didn't win.
Here's a trailer for the film. I can imagine a lot of people would like it, but it's probably not my type of thing.
In 1979, Williamson wrote Traveling North. It was turned into a movie in 1987. Williamson won an AFI award for best screenplay. This movie review from The New York Times says the movie is dreary. It's about a retired ex-communist who moves up to Queensland.
In 1982, we have The Perfectionist. Apparently, this play came to America. The New York Times says it was performed at something called the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina. In 1984, the festival featured some Australian plays. The Perfectionist is about a father/son relationship. The author of the review says, The author is, if anything, too fairminded. He tries to present all sides of every issue, including negative fallout from rising feminism and house-husbandry. I don't know if I'd take that as a criticism. I think it's good to try and see things from various viewpoints. I guess it could be seen as being wishy-washy though. I was listening to some Obama speeches over the weekend. He talked about the Palestinian and Israeli/Jewish issues without taking sides. I know some people would prefer that he pick one side over the other. But I personally like that he tries to be balanced about the whole thing.
In 1987, Williamson wrote Emerald City. Lord Wiki says it's a satire about the film and publishing industry. I like movies and books MADE by these industries, but I usually don't like stuff that's ABOUT them. There are four movies with the title Emerald City. The first one (made in 1989) is the one based on the Williamson play. Nicole Kidman and Ruth Cracknell are both in it. Since I've done posts on both those woman, I'm guessing I've encountered this movie before.
I like how an IMDb user describes the plot: Colin as an award-winning writer of Australian films that nobody sees, and Kate as a publisher of high-end literature that hardly anybody reads. Colin's having a bit of a mid-life crisis: he wants fame and fortune, and is sick of Kate's puritanical-rationalist left-liberal "Melbourne friends", who also reflect and remind him of his own conscience.
It makes me think of those movies and books that make you look smart if you read/see them. But they end up being so boring, and you're left wondering if anyone truly likes them. Is it really enjoyable to read/watch, or do we convince ourselves it's good so we'll impress everyone....even ourselves. I actually believe mostly it's a matter of differing opinions. Or it could be a matter of intelligence. I read a Margo Lanagan book, and had a very hard time getting through it. I found it difficult and boring. But from what I've read, it seems a lot of people love her books. It's tempting to imagine, they're all faking it. I doubt that's true though. I think there are people who have higher-functioning brains than I do, and they're the type who'd love the book.
In 1991, Williamson wrote Money and Friends. This theater website has some information about it. Oh! It's a site that sells plays for people to perform. They say Money and Friends needs five male actors and four female ones. The set requirements are flexible.
The protagonist is a math professor. He and his friends do a weekend together. They do some revealing about what they really think of each other. The story also deals with debt, and the issue of whether or not we should help our friends when they're struggling with their finances.
In 1993, Williamson wrote Brilliant Lies. It was made into a movie in 1996. It sounds familar to me. It's about sexual harassment, and stars Anthony LaPaglia.
In 1994, Williamson wrote Sanctuary. Lord Wiki says it's about a retired foreign-correspondent living in the Gold Coast. It sounds like a very deep and thought-provoking story. It involves a younger man writing a biography about the retired journalist. The younger man believes the journalist sold out to the United States. He believes the journalist failed to report on things (such as genocides) that needed to be reported. The two men dig into each other's lives and fight about it.
A guy named Jason Rommey reviews the play on this website. Rommey says, Williamson's savage script explores the atrocities of war and the moral bankruptcies of the mass media yet throughout, the dialogue is well-oiled with black humor. Yeah, that sounds like a good story to me. I like Rommey's line here as well: Bob is intelligent and thoughtful. He is no mere fascist romancer. While John, who initially purports to be incorruptible, is soon seen to be a man so twisted by a psychology of abuse that his claim to objectivity and the high ground is seriously undermined.
From what Rommey says (and Lord Wiki as well) the play seems to deal with hypocrisy. We often see the faults of those on the opposing side: They present an unbalanced view! They lie! They avoid information! They twist the statistics! But we ignore these faults when they occur in those who believe what we believe.
I do it fairly often. For example, if I find an article about the benefits of breastfeeding, I'll quickly believe it without much questioning. If I find an article about the dangers of co-sleeping, I'll read it VERY carefully. I'll study the statistics, find information to refute it, look at who's publishing the study, etc.
If we agree with something, we'll usually accept it on fate alone. If we disagree, we'll demand scientific proof. And then we'll likely dispute any evidence that is presented to us.
So far, out of all the plays....Sanctuary sounds the most appealing to me. I wish it was a novel. I'd rather read a novel than watch a movie or see a play.
In 1995, Williamson wrote Dead White Males. Well, THIS is interesting. Keith Windschuttle has a review of it. He liked it. He says, it's Williamson's most daring play. It's about literary critics, and literature professors. Is it presumptuous of me to assume that, since Windschuttle is right-winged and likes this play, that Williamson is right-winged as well. Maybe I'm thinking that because of Sanctuary. From the descriptions I read, it seemed to be taking the side against the leftie guy. Although on the other hand, the other reviewer says that Williamson presents all sides of the issues. Maybe he's neither right-winged nor left-winged. Maybe he has the ability to show both sides what we try so hard to ignore. Windschuttle talks about Williamson attacking some of our current sacred cows. There is a lot of pressure in our society to agree with certain viewpoints. If anyone speaks up against these sacred cows, they're immediately turned into Pariahs. Even simply defending a person's right to share their opinion (whether you agree with them or not) can bring about major scorn and rejection.
In 1996, Williamson wrote Heretic. A woman named Cheryl recently wrote a review about it on her blog. The play about Margaret Mead, and deals with how we stereotype certain cultures as being Utopian. It deals with a study Mead did of Samoa.
Lord Wiki says it had some behind the scene drama. After the opening performance at The Opera House, Williamson fought with the director. It seems they had different ideas of how they play should be performed. Yikes.
In 1997, Williamson wrote After the Ball. This theater bookshop says it's about a brother and sister who come together when their mother is on her deathbed. That sounds like a fairly typical storyline. I'm pretty sure I've seen that plot used before. Oh, and I'm sure it happens a lot in real life as well.
In 1999, Williamson wrote Corporate Vibes. It sounds like something Tim might like. He used to work in the corporate world. By the time he was through, he had much criticism for that world. This University of Queensland website has a review of the play. They say, Placing as its central theme a conflict between the traditional autocratic mode of management and modern 'touchy-feely' schools of intervention, Corporate Vibes provides a running commentary on the effect of idealist organisational theory within the practical reality of corporate power structures. Yeah. I think Tim could definitely relate to that storyline. One of his last corporate positions was in change management. The company he worked for changed buildings, but not only that. They tried to transform the whole culture. Basically, the company went for less ME space and more WE space. I'm guessing the play probably also has some similarities to The Office...or at least deals with some of the same themes. Tim's a fan of that show.
In 2000, David Williamson wrote the first play in a trilogy dealing with something called Community Conferencing. This is the idea that people should have a chance to face the community and explain their actions before going to court. Lord Wiki says it's part of something called restorative justice. This method encourages apologizing and making amends. I like that.
When my sister was hit by a drunk driver, the driver and his family did VERY little to contact us. I don't think there were any visits or letters. Later we were told that their lawyers told them not to have communication with us. I understand the reasoning behind that. One of them could have said something that we could have used in court against them. But how sad is that? It would have been so meaningful (for OUR family and his family) if they had reached out to us. If the legal system hadn't gotten in our way, he could have worked towards repaying my sister. He could have apologized, but he could have done even much more than that. He could have tried to make amends in some way. He could have gotten us to see that he's not an evil person--just someone who made a really careless and awful mistake. Instead, we're left seeing him as a guy who really didn't care.... a guy who was more worried about his legal situation than my sister's recovery. Although by now (2010), he really COULD have reached out to us without legal consequences. And he hasn't. So maybe that says something about his character. I think if I was in his shoes, I'd want to reach out. I'd probably write something like I know you hate me, and I deserve your hatred. A day doesn't go by that I don't blah, blah blah.....
Outside of a formal legal-type apology, I don't think he has ever offered my sister an apology. I can't respect that.
Anyway, back to Williamson and his trilogy. The first play was called Face to Face. Lord Wiki says it involves a construction worker getting mad at his boss. For revenge, he harms the boss's Mercedes. Then he discusses his actions in a community conference.
In 2001, Williamson wrote the play that starred Madonna. This was called Up For Grabs. It's about art dealership people. The version starring Madonna was done in London. The BBC has a review of the production. They say it's about an art director who compromises her morals in order to sell paintings...or maybe I should say she compromises the morals of our society. The review isn't actually encouraging. They say, David Williamson's sensationalist, but less-than-sensational, play rolls on the shock tactics when all else fails, as Madonna has routinely done throughout her career. That's harsh, but well said. I think in a way it's a reflection on all of us. We're attracted to shocking images and stories. We pay attention to those who deliver.
It's like when I was trying to find something to watch while I put away the laundry. Paris Hilton was the guest on Ellen. I complained to myself about her popularity. Why is she on? What makes her so special? Why do people even care about Paris Hilton? There are so many other people that Ellen could feature....heroic people who try to make a difference in the world. We don't need to hear about all the parties Paris Hilton is invited to. It's ridiculous! It doesn't matter that she had a snow machine at her party that creates real snow. We don't need to know that!
Yet I watched the whole interview....or most of it.
This is how the world of sensationalism works.
First, you have the person who does something shocking to get attention.
Next you have the media who reports the shocking behavior.
People who blog about it, or talk about it on Facebook and Twitter.
Then this brings about the people who come to these sites to whine about how they're so sick of hearing about the subject. I don't know how they imagine they're helping. They're just adding to the conversation....bringing even MORE attention to it.
Anytime a celebrity dies, we have to hear about how we shouldn't care that this celebrity died. But then shouldn't those people not care that we care that the celebrity died?
Williamson did two other plays in 2001. One was the second part of his community conferencing trilogy. This was called A Conversation. This ABC website says it involves two families meeting, one belonging to a murder victim, and the belonging to the murderer. Wow. I can't imagine how that would play out. I think it would be close to impossible to have a civil and understanding meeting with the murderer himself. But it might work with his family. I imagine it would probably be very hard to be the parents of a murderer...maybe just as hard as being the parents of the victim. I don't know. I'm trying to imagine, and frankly I don't want to. It's going to make me totally depressed.
Let's change the subject....
Or let's take the death factor out. Let's say no one died. Someone was just injured. In that case, I think it would be harder to be the criminal's family. Although my sister's injuries were VERY hard on my family, I think the drunk driver and his family had it much worse. Imagine having that on your conscience. And while my sister got to be a hero, and we all got to overcome adversity....the drunk driver has to feel guilty and ashamed.
It's just like I think it's better to be the children of Holocaust survivors than it is to be children of Nazis. Although I've heard that BOTH situations can cause extreme psychological turmoil.
Let's move onto the next play. Well, it was third in the trilogy....Charitable Event. This website says it deals with workplace bullying.
In 2002, Williamson wrote Soulmates. The Perth Theater Company website says a production of it went on tour around Australia in 2006. The story sounds like something I'd totally love. It's about an Australian chick-lit writer who moves to New York City. She's faced with literary snobs who think her work is trash. The website says her books are dismissed by the “serious” writers who write the books that everyone buys and nobody finishes. I love that! Literary snobbery annoys me. I will admit that sometimes I DO like literary books. I like the brainy stuff sometimes. But I also love the fun easy "trashy" stuff. I love books that made me think deep complicated thoughts. I also love books that are just simple fun--that help me escape my own little world. The best books are those that manage to do both.
Oh and then there's the nonfiction snobs. I know of a very nice person who sticks mostly to nonfiction. And I have no grief with him. But I was once talking to this woman. I was trying to make polite conversation. I asked whether she liked reading, and what type of books she liked. In a fairly snobby tone, she declared that she reads ONLY nonfiction. She said something like If I'm going to read, I want to LEARN something. Her tone seemed to be saying that only ridiculous frivolous people waste their time with fiction. I explained and defended my reading choices by talking about how I do so much nonfiction reading for this blog. By the time I'm through, all I want to do is relax with fiction. I shouldn't have done that. Instead I should have talked about how we can learn with fiction as well as nonfiction. Most fiction has factual information mixed into the story. It introduces me to new information, and I can go search for it on the Internet if I want to learn more. At the very least, fiction opens us up to new ideas and viewpoints. Someone could say it's a complete waste of time to read the Harry Potter books. It's all made up crap. What could we learn by reading it? Well, we learn about psychology, mythology, politics.....lots and lots of stuff. I think fiction has more educational quality than some nonfiction. A lot of times nonfiction is zealous opinions disguised as fact.
I better get back on track.
In 2004, Williamson wrote Amigos. The Age gives it a fairly negative review. They say, One of Williamson's strengths is his impossibly and hilariously neat plotting; every piece eventually falls into the pattern with an almost audible clink. That reminds me of Nip/Tuck. I felt it went too much in that direction. Look, isn't that funny how the situation of our patients totally mirrors the situation in our own lives. What a lovely coincidence! Yeah. I think they went a little bit too far with the whole pattern thing. I think it worked okay in a few episodes, but in most of them, it just made me cringe.
The review isn't completely harsh. It concludes by saying, Amigos is topical, funny and entertaining, but far from challenging drama. But not everything needs to be challenging. Sometimes I just want to laugh.
In 2005, Williamson wrote Influence. Lord Wiki says it was his last play before announcing his retirement from main-stage productions. I have no idea what that means. What is a main stage production? I can't find an answer. I'm probably just too lazy to look hard enough.
The play is about a shock jock. That's a topic that would probably interest me. The Sydney Morning Herald has a review of it.
In one of the lines, the shock jock says, What are your pet hates? I'll tell you one of mine. It's our bleeding-heart, overeducated, left liberal, elites ...
On our road trip, I watched part of a FOX interview with Sarah Palin. She talked about her beloved average Americans and those elitist people. Yes, there ARE left liberal snobs. I don't deny that. But there are also right-winged snobs as well. I'd say Sarah Palin is definitely one of them. To label certain parts of the United States as having "REAL Americans" is disgustingly snobby.
In 2008, Williamson wrote Scarlett O'Hara at the Crimson Parrot. I guess it wasn't a main-stage production, since Williamson had retired from that. Or he could be like Stephen King...announces his retirement and then writes more books. I make fun of King, but honestly, I'm very glad he changed his mind. I love his books. I hope he writes up until the day he dies, and I hope he lives a very long life.
This theater blog has a review of the Scarlett O'Hara thing. The play is about a waitress who has a bullying mother. And she has a crush on her boss. It sounds like the type of story I'd like. The character fills her life with movies and daydreams. I can relate to that....well, especially the daydream part. Sometimes I live in my own little fantasy world. The reviewer goes a bit over my head (since I'm not that brainy) but I do understand that he/she did not like the play. And lot of his/her commenters seem to be part of an anti-Williamson chorus.
The Australian Stage website says that Williamson DID do a Stephen King in terms of his retirement. He said goodbye, and then he came back. The site says the play has some politically incorrect lines. They say it's refreshing in some ways, but might be hurtful to people who are overweight, gay, mentally ill, etc. It's a hard balance. Sometimes politically incorrect jokes are hilarious. Other times....well, I feel more offended than amused. I don't know what makes the difference really. Sometimes I laugh AND am offended. That happened last night when I watched an episode of True Blood. There was an anti-homeschooling line. It offended me, but it was part of a great little hilarious monologue. And for some unfortunate children and teenagers, there's some truth behind it.
Maybe the difference between good politically incorrect humor and bad politically incorrect humor is that the former makes us laugh AND think. It opens our mind and makes us think of something in a new way. The bad stuff seems to say, I'm tired of being politically correct! I want to say what I want to say and no one can stop me. I'm not going to play the politically correct game....so there!
I'm not sure if Williamson's politically incorrect lines would offend me or not, because I haven't seen the play. It's kind of weird writing about his work when I've never seen any of it. Some folks seem to love him, and some seem to hate him. I have no idea where I would fall. Some of his premises sound like stuff I'd love. But I don't know if I'd enjoy the actual play itself.
Williamson's most recent play was Let The Sunshine. The Sydney Morning Herald says it's a comedy about a wealthy community in Queensland. Kevin Jackson has a review of it on his blog. Jackson seems to be one of those who likes Williamson's plays. He describes the plot as being about two families having to overcome their dislike of each other. It deals with in-law issues and stuff like that.
Okay. I'm worn out, so I'm going to quit.