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America’s Cup:a guide for landlubbers

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Team USA makes it 8-8
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History

It all began in 1851 when the schooner America, representing the New York Yacht Club, won the 100 Guinea Cup that was held off the southeast coast of England and the Isle of Wight.

The victory symbolised the changing of maritime power from the old to the new world. On its return to America, the syndicate donated the trophy to the New York Yacht Club with the decree that it be awarded to the winners of a “perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations”. From then it would be known as the America’s Cup.

The series has gone through various incarnations since the first challenge by Englishman James Ashbury in 1870, with a challenger series introduced for the first time to decide the boat that would go on to face the defending yacht club.

Australia II in 1983 became the first boat to beat the Americans in 132 years, winning the series 4-3. The trophy did not stay in Australia long, however. Dennis Conner regained it for the Americans with Stars and Stripes in 1987.

The series then became bogged down in legal challenges as New Zealand forced San Diego Yacht Club to defend the trophy in 1988. A farcical series eventuated in which two different styles of boats raced each other – the Conner-led American syndicate using a catamaran to embarrass the New Zealanders, who had shown up with a mono-hulled 27-metre-long boat.

In the years since, the Cup has shifted between New Zealand, Europe (with the Swiss-backed Alinghi syndicate defending the trophy in Valencia, Spain) and America.

Boats

The boating classifications have changed over the years from the original schooners, to the J-Class boats (1930-1939), to the 12-metre class introduced in 1958 when the series restarted after World War II, to various styles of catamarans culminating in the high-octane AC-72’s, which can reach remarkable speeds on the San Francisco Bay course.

With wing sails and hydrofoils, AC-72 catamarans are designed for speed, but their complexity and cost – team budgets are about $100 million – have deterred contenders.

There was also a concern about their safety when in May 2013, Sweden’s boat capsized in San Francisco Bay and a crew member died.

Australia II

A sporting legend worthy of then-prime minister Bob Hawke all but declaring a public holiday was created in 1983 when Australia II and its mysterious winged keel, skippered by John Bertrand, designed by Ben Lexcen and funded by Alan Bond, became the first boat to prise the America’s Cup from the New York Yacht Club in 132 years.

The Australians fell behind Liberty 1-3 in the series before rallying and then winning a thrilling deciding race when they claimed the lead on the final spinnaker run and held off a series of desperate challenges over the final minutes.

This series

The 2013 series will come down to a dramatic final race on Thursday (AEST) on a five-leg course around San Francisco Bay. Team New Zealand has for the past week been marooned just one win from claiming the mug as its 7-1 lead has been steadily whittled away by the Americans.

Now the series is levelled at eight-all, although Team America, skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill, has actually won two more races. (It was handed a two-point penalty for illegally modifying its boat during the warm-up regattas.)

To add to the drama, Team NZ was denied the chance to seize the Cup when race 13 was abandoned with it well ahead in light wind. In the resailed race, Team New Zealand began their winning streak.

AMERICA’S CUPS

1870 Magic (US) def Cambria (England) 1-0

1871 Columbia (US) def Livonia (England) 4-1

1876 Madeline (US) def Countess of Dufferin (Canada) 2-0

1881 Mischief (US) def Atalanta (Canada) 4-1

1885 Puritan (US) def Genesta (Britain) 2-0

1886 Mayflower (US) def Galatea (Britain) 2-0

1887 Volunteer (US) def Thistle (Scotland) 2-0

1893 Vigilant (US) def Valkyrie II (Britain) 3-0

1895 Defender (US) def Valkyrie III (Britain) 3-0

1899 Columbia (US) def Shamrock (Ireland) 3-0

1901 Columbia (US) def Shamrock II (Ireland) 3-0

1903 Reliance (US) def Shamrock III (Ireland) 3-0

1920 Resolute (US) def Shamrock IV (Ireland) 3-2

1930 Enterprise (US) def Shamrock V (Ireland) 4-0

1934 Rainbow (US) def Endeavour (Britain) 4-2

1937 Ranger (US) def Endeavour II (Britain) 4-0

1958 Columbia (US) def Sceptre (Britain) 3-1

1962 Weatherly (US) def Gretel (Australia) 4-1

1964 Constellation (US) def Sovereign (Britain) 4-0

1967 Intrepid (US) def Dame Pattie (Australia) 4-0

1970 Intrepid (US) def Gretel II (Australia) 4-1

1974 Courageous (US) def Southern Cross (Australia) 4-0

1977 Courageous (US) def Australia (Australia) 4-0

1980 Freedom (US) def Australia (Australia) 4-1

1983 Australia II (Australia) def Liberty (US) 4-3

1987 Stars and Stripes (US) def Kookaburra III (Australia), 4-0

1988 Stars & Stripes (US) def New Zealand (New Zealand) 2-0

1992 America 3 (US) def Il Moro di Venezia (Italy) 4-1

1995 Team New Zealand (New Zealand) def Young America (US) 5-0

2000 Team New Zealand (New Zealand) def Luna Rossa (Italy) 5-0

2003 Alinghi (Switzerland) def Team New Zealand (New Zealand) 5-0

2007 Alinghi (Switzerland) def Team New Zealand (New Zealand) 5-2

2010 Team US (America) def Alinghi (Switzerland) 2-0

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

LIVE Party Pix – September 26

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Kay Caban, of Eleebana, and Leonie Jack, of Shoal Bay, at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers Deb Hawcroft, of Highfields, and Amanda and Andrew Milne, of Sydney, at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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Angus and Linda Frazer, of Singleton, at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Christine and Damien Muir, of Kotara, at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Tom Woods, Cheryl and Peter Drinkwater, and Alison Woods, all of Coal Point, at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Linda Martin, of Port Macquarie, and Joel Oakhill, of New Lambton, at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Don and Donna Edwards, of Belmont, at Steve Clisby at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Taylah Duncan and Stewart Bryan, of Glendale, at Jason Byrne at Civic Theatre, Newcastle, on September 21. Picture: Peter Stoop

Allan Carius, of Sydney, and Madeline Haydon, of Charlestown, at Jason Byrne at Civic Theatre, Newcastle, on September 21. Picture: Peter Stoop

Karen Thomas, of Wallsend, and Melanie Mills, of Cardiff South, at Jason Byrne at Civic Theatre, Newcastle, on September 21. Picture: Peter Stoop

Michael Abbott, of Camperdown, and Amber Sutton, of Cardiff, at Jason Byrne at Civic Theatre, Newcastle, on September 21. Picture: Peter Stoop

Jacqueline Coombe and Matthew Tam, of East Maitland, at Jason Byrne at Civic Theatre, Newcastle, on September 21. Picture: Peter Stoop

Aaron Miller and Melissa Smith, of Maitland, at Jason Byrne at Civic Theatre, Newcastle, on September 21. Picture: Peter Stoop

Lauren McEnearney and Luke Shearer, of Caves Beach, at Jason Byrne at Civic Theatre, Newcastle, on September 21. Picture: Peter Stoop

Matthew Thompson runs with the Blood God: Epilogue reading

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Please enable Javascript to watch this video AUTHOR: Matthew Thompson
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Matthew Thompson interview

Prologue reading

Kosovo reading

MATTHEW Thompson’s new book,Running With The Blood God, will not leave a footprint on your brain – it will leave a bootprint, indelibly inked in your subconscious.

Thompson, who holds a doctorate in creative arts, is a part-time firefighter in Dungog, where he lives with his wife Renae and daughter Avalon. He is also a guest lecturer at universities and writes freelance articles.

Five years ago he published his first book,My Colombian Death, an intense non-fiction account of his six-month journey to the exotic, drug-laden South American country full of characters and character.

Blood God, his second book, charts a course through even more dangerous territory.

He spends time in Iran, avoiding the ever-probing eyes of soldiers, police and shady operatives who are constantly arresting, harassing and torturing ordinary citizens who dare to disobey the strict Muslim covenants set by then leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He journeys to the Philippines, secretly visiting guerillas in the jungles north-west of Manila.

He takes a jolting road trip from Serbia to Kosovo with hard-core Serbian nationalists.

And finally, a stop in Portland, Oregon, to hang out with counterculturists and Native Americans in one of the most alternative major cities in America.

The book is subtitled ‘‘down and dirty with freedom fighters, rebels and misfits’’ and Thompson certainly gives his subjects, who come from all walks of life but have common ground in fighting against governments they consider unjust, a fair chance to explain themselves.

‘‘It’s more of a literary work,’’ Thompson says, comparing it to his first book. ‘‘It’s still adventure, gritty, real things. But I decided to leave a fair bit up to the reader. T

“Too much interpretation is taken from the reader these days, too many opinions are pushed on people.

‘‘My book has more respect for the reader. People all around the world, in dictatorships, cracked-up states, lost countries .. A huge variety of people, they all have the urge to live freer than their societies will allow. It’s up to the reader to decide how they fit into that .. what’s life add up to in the end.’’

In between philosophical discussions about the purpose of government, the value of civil disobedience, the role of religion and the like, Thompson indulges in opium (in Iran and the US), marijuana and cocaine, drinks everything from Portland’s boutique beers, to Serbia’s home-made plum brandy to contraband vodka and wine in Iran, all with the locals, of course.

‘‘When in Rome … do as the Romans do,’’ Thompson says.

‘‘I go for a month [to each location] and I see them and we get trust. I don’t agree, but I’m listening, so they open up. That’s what it takes. … It takes time with people. There is something to respect about drinking with sources. It’s a respectable occupation. It may not suit people prone to alcoholism, but you train, get into the field and go hard.’’

There is constant personal danger in Iran, the fear of being detained. In Kosovo one of his travelling partners is seriously stabbed in a confrontation and Thompson steps in, surrounded by Albanian thugs (saving himself by yelling ‘‘Leave him! Get off him! I’m Australian! I’m f–––king Australian!’’)

For Thompson, it’s all about living life to the fullest.

‘‘I don’t take stupid risks. I take them a calculated way,’’ he says. ‘‘I don’t want to shy away from the world and its wildness.’’

He thinks everybody should pause to consider that concept.

‘‘Adventure is healthy. Sure, it’s injurious at times, put things under strain. So does long-term decline. The people I’m meeting, the spirit of the book: wake up and become who you are!’’

Violent rampage: McDonald’s staff aid police arrests

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Keen-eyed employees at a fast food restaurant have helped police catch two people suspected of going on a violent rampage across Sydney on Monday night, during which a hotel and cinema were robbed and an elderly man was carjacked.
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Staff at a McDonald’s outlet in Kirrawee, south of Sydney, called police just before midnight on Tuesday night after they noticed a 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman acting suspiciously

The pair allegedly attacked police officers who attempted to arrest them and continued to kick, punch and bite officers at Sutherland Railway Station.

Officers searched the couple’s bags and found a shortened shotgun, cash and clothing that prompted them to contact detectives investigating armed robberies at the Roseville Cinemas and the Revesby Pacific Hotel on Monday night, in which staff and customers were threatened with a sawn-off shotgun.

A string of charges were laid against both on Wednesday afternoon for the two robberies and a carjacking in Lane Cove earlier in the night in which an 87-year-old man’s car was stolen and used as the getaway vehicle.

The man’s charges include seven counts of assault police, one count of unlawfully take/drive motor vehicle, one count of possess unauthorised prohibited firearm and two counts of robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon.

He was also charged with intimidating a police officer, assaulting a police officer and having a knife in public area during an unrelated incident in Dee Why on September 19.

During Monday night’s rampage, the pair allegedly stole the 87-year-old man’s car from his driveway before driving to the Roseville Cinemas.

Four thieves ran into the cinema about 8pm and threatened to shoot and kill a number of cinemagoers if they did not hand over their wallets, before stealing about $1000 from the cinema box office.

The thieves then fled in the stolen car and drove to Revesby, where they allegedly carried out another armed robbery.

When police attempted to arrest the two suspects at Kirrawee McDonald’s, the man allegedly punched a constable in the face and the woman kicked another officer twice in the head.

He then allegedly bit the first officer on the hand before running from the restaurant. He was arrested a short time later in Monroe Avenue.

More officers who were called to the fast food outlet were allegedly assaulted by the woman, before both were taken to Sutherland Police Station.

Police will also allege the woman scratched and punched the custody sergeant at the station.

Both are expected to be refused bail and will appear in Sutherland Local Court on Thursday.

Police are still seeking to identify two other men believed to be involved in the robberies.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Thomas the Tank Engine rescued from drug lab

Monday, June 10th, 2019

Thomas the Tank Engine is welcomed back to safety by Goulburn Council’s Julianne Salway, acting Local Area Commander Evan Quarmby, Mayor Geoff Kettle and Goulburn Police crime manager Detective Inspector Chad Gillies. Photo: The Goulburn Post The last sighting of Thomas during the 2010 December floods. Photo: The Goulburn Post
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Goulburn’s missing Thomas the Tank Engine – washed away in floods almost three years ago – has been found by police during a search warrant of a suspected drug lab in the east of the city.

The popular kids’ play equipment used to sit at the Goulburn Historic Waterworks Museum on the banks of the Wollondilly River but was last seen floating down the river during the floods of December, 2010.

Goulburn detectives located the bright blue engine, measuring 1m by 3m, during a search warrant at a house in Eastgrove last week.

Police had executed the search warrant on suspicion the house was being used to manufacture drugs but they instead found Thomas in a carport.

NSW Police issued a statement saying Thomas was ‘‘currently assisting Goulburn police with their inquiries into his whereabouts for the past three years’’.

He was ‘‘expected to make a full recovery and will receive a fresh coat of paint by council staff at the depot before he rejoins his steam train friends at the local Waterworks in a couple of weeks’’.

Goulburn Acting Local Area Commander Superintendent Evan Quarmby said it was great Thomas could be returned to the local community and the case of “Where is Thomas?” resolved.“My officers did a great job executing the search warrant and inquiries are continuing into that case. As a bonus, we solved the three-year mystery surrounding Thomas,” Superintendent Quarmby said.

Goulburn-Mulwaree Council had conducted a ‘‘Where’s Wally?’’ style campaign to locate Thomas.

Mayor Geoff Kettle said Thomas, made by volunteers,  had originally been located in the town’s Belmore Park, and then relocated to the Waterworks Museum.

‘‘I was on my way to Sydney and I got a call from the local area commander who told me, ‘We’ve solved  Goulburn’s biggest mystery. We’ve found Thomas’,’’ Mr Kettle said.

‘‘And I said, ‘Where did you find him?’. And he said, ‘Well, you won’t believe this’.’’

Mr Kettle said Thomas was now safely located at the council’s depot and would soon be returned to the waterworks museum.

Superintendent Quarmby said enquiries were continuing into both about how Thomas ended up in the house and the suspected drug-related issues.

‘‘It’s a great win for the Goulburn community,’’ he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Leishman to bring noise in Cup debut

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Tiger Woods said silencing the Royal Melbourne crowds in 2011 was one of the keys to winning the Presidents Cup on foreign soil.
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But Australian Marc Leishman is happy for the American fans to make as much noise as they like as he prepares to tee off for the Internationals for the first time.

The 29-year-old Presidents Cup rookie insists he won’t be intimidated by the fiery American galleries as he lines up beside fellow Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott in Ohio next month.

He said he would be fueled on by the crowds and use the intimidating atmosphere as motivation to prove he belongs among elite company after being selected as a captain’s pick by Nick Price.

“I’m sure the Americans will be passionate. They definitely won’t be barracking for us,” said Leishman, one of the major signings for the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast in November.

“For me, I’m going to use that as motivation. I like to win those one-one-one contests, or any week really. I’m going to use the crowd as motivation and see how that goes for me.

“It’s the first time I’ve played in that sort of format with those sort of crowds. I’ve never played anything like this with thousands and thousands of people out there. We’ll wait and see how the crowds are.”

Leishman comes in to the event on the back of an impressive year on the PGA Tour, capped off with his fourth place in the Masters, famously won by Scott in the long-awaited Australian breakthrough at Augusta.

He was made to sweat for a day before finally taking a late call from Price, who gave him the green light to join the 12-man international squad. Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge was the other captain’s selection.

Leishman partnered Scott in the final round of the Masters, featuring in some dramatic imagery as he pumped his fist in jubilation as Scott sank a putt on the 18th green.

He’d love to reprise that combination in the Presidents Cup, saying it would be ideal to play next to good mate Scott, although Price has yet to decide on the all-important combinations to be deployed on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirhead Village course from October 3.

“He’s an awesome player, awesome bloke. I’d definitely love that pairing. We get along well – there’s no reason why not,” Leishman said. “I don’t know what Nick’s thinking at the moment. I don’t know who the other guys want to play with yet but I’d love to play with Scotty.”

Leishman’s year will be remembered for his charge at Augusta, where he almost led all the way only to endure some late blemishes in the final round to drop back to fourth.

He finished the tour ranked 59th and banked almost $US1.5 million, highlighted by four top-10 finishes and eight top-25 finishes across 23 tournaments.

But he’s never attacked anything like the Presidents Cup as a professional and has been leaning on Scott for advice as he enters the lion’s den against an American team with Phil Mickelson and Woods at the vanguard.

“They said it’s a big week, almost like the back nine of a tournament on Sunday – every shot. It’s given me an idea what to expect, off the course as well. But they said it’s an awesome week.” Leishman said.

“Once you get on one team, they said you never want to miss one again. This is my first one but all the guys that have been on the team the past few years are hoping to get a win and play well.”

Leishman will return to Australia in late October to spend time at his native Warrnambool before heading to the Gold Coast to play the PGA at Royal Pines from November 7.

“The Gold Coast is one of my favourite places in the world. I’ve played Royal Pines before. I like the golf course – it’s going to be exciting for the crowd,” Leishman said.

“I’m guessing there will be a fair few birdies on offer. Unless they have changed the course a lot, there’s going to be birdies. But it’s in a great area of the country and the world.”

The PGA will be the only tournament Leishman plays in the Australian summer unless his schedule changes between now and November.

USA Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Steve Stricker, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth

Captain: Fred Couples

International Adam Scott (AUS), Jason Day (AUS), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Ernie Els (RSA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Branden Grace (RSA), Graham DeLaet (CAN), Richard Sterne (RSA), Angel Cabrera (ARG), Marc Leishman (AUS), Brendon de Jonge (ZIM)

Captain: Nick Price (ZIM)

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Matthew Thompson runs with the Blood God: Kosovo reading

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Please enable Javascript to watch this video AUTHOR: Matthew Thompson
Nanjing Night Net

Matthew Thompson interview

Prologue reading

Epilogue reading

MATTHEW Thompson’s new book,Running With The Blood God, will not leave a footprint on your brain – it will leave a bootprint, indelibly inked in your subconscious.

Thompson, who holds a doctorate in creative arts, is a part-time firefighter in Dungog, where he lives with his wife Renae and daughter Avalon. He is also a guest lecturer at universities and writes freelance articles.

Five years ago he published his first book,My Colombian Death, an intense non-fiction account of his six-month journey to the exotic, drug-laden South American country full of characters and character.

Blood God, his second book, charts a course through even more dangerous territory.

He spends time in Iran, avoiding the ever-probing eyes of soldiers, police and shady operatives who are constantly arresting, harassing and torturing ordinary citizens who dare to disobey the strict Muslim covenants set by then leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He journeys to the Philippines, secretly visiting guerillas in the jungles north-west of Manila.

He takes a jolting road trip from Serbia to Kosovo with hard-core Serbian nationalists.

And finally, a stop in Portland, Oregon, to hang out with counterculturists and Native Americans in one of the most alternative major cities in America.

The book is subtitled ‘‘down and dirty with freedom fighters, rebels and misfits’’ and Thompson certainly gives his subjects, who come from all walks of life but have common ground in fighting against governments they consider unjust, a fair chance to explain themselves.

‘‘It’s more of a literary work,’’ Thompson says, comparing it to his first book. ‘‘It’s still adventure, gritty, real things. But I decided to leave a fair bit up to the reader. T

“Too much interpretation is taken from the reader these days, too many opinions are pushed on people.

‘‘My book has more respect for the reader. People all around the world, in dictatorships, cracked-up states, lost countries .. A huge variety of people, they all have the urge to live freer than their societies will allow. It’s up to the reader to decide how they fit into that .. what’s life add up to in the end.’’

In between philosophical discussions about the purpose of government, the value of civil disobedience, the role of religion and the like, Thompson indulges in opium (in Iran and the US), marijuana and cocaine, drinks everything from Portland’s boutique beers, to Serbia’s home-made plum brandy to contraband vodka and wine in Iran, all with the locals, of course.

‘‘When in Rome … do as the Romans do,’’ Thompson says.

‘‘I go for a month [to each location] and I see them and we get trust. I don’t agree, but I’m listening, so they open up. That’s what it takes. … It takes time with people. There is something to respect about drinking with sources. It’s a respectable occupation. It may not suit people prone to alcoholism, but you train, get into the field and go hard.’’

There is constant personal danger in Iran, the fear of being detained. In Kosovo one of his travelling partners is seriously stabbed in a confrontation and Thompson steps in, surrounded by Albanian thugs (saving himself by yelling ‘‘Leave him! Get off him! I’m Australian! I’m f–––king Australian!’’)

For Thompson, it’s all about living life to the fullest.

‘‘I don’t take stupid risks. I take them a calculated way,’’ he says. ‘‘I don’t want to shy away from the world and its wildness.’’

He thinks everybody should pause to consider that concept.

‘‘Adventure is healthy. Sure, it’s injurious at times, put things under strain. So does long-term decline. The people I’m meeting, the spirit of the book: wake up and become who you are!’’

Therapeutic look at panic by teens

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

IN 30 years as a theatre performer and educator, Erika Gelzinnis has observed many young people developing panic as they go through difficult periods of their lives.
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She has had her own low points and been lumbered with the stigma of being an outsider by social groups.

So Gelzinnis, who is the senior workshop facilitator at Newcastle’s Tantrum Theatre, decided to develop a theatre work that would bring together young people who had bordered on mental illness or had observed it in friends and relatives.

She believed such a work could help people young and old seeing the show understand that such experiences were part of life and didn’t warrant those going through them being rejected and ignored.

Gelzinnis, together with son Scott, an actor and musician, and Rachel Jackett, who was Tantrum’s associate director in 2011 and 2012 and worked this year as an actor with a touring company, drew together 20 young people aged 12 to 19 who had suffered panic at different levels because they thought their mental experiences were isolated, and began developing a stage work.

Their show, Panic, will be staged as a work-in-progress this weekend and as part of next week’s Crack Theatre Festival section of This is Not Art, with the hope of presenting a season of the fully developed production in Newcastle next year.

The Gelzinnis duo and Rachel Jackett have formed a collective, the Open Cage Ensemble, to put together the work.

The name comes from the concept that while cages can be protective, opening their doors can provide access to a big new world.

Panic will be performed at 48 Watt (the former St Philip’s Church in Newcastle’s Watt Street) tomorrow and Saturday at 6.30pm and in the same venue during the Crack Theatre Festival on Saturday, October 5, at 7pm, and Sunday, October 6, at 2pm.

Admission to the show, which runs about 40minutes, is free, though the collective is hopeful that donations will help the planned 2014 staging.

Panic is a cabaret-style production. Some performers say just a few words about their experiences, and others are revealed through newly written songs.

Gelzinnis said the show was quite physical.

‘‘And wonderful stories are emerging that people want to share,’’ she said.

Behind the bedsit door

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

KELSIE Clarke often gets blank looks from people when she tells them she is directing a play called I Am a Camera. But they become excited when she tells them it was the basis of the musical Cabaret.
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As she notes, however, the two works are very different.

They share a central character, Sally Bowles, an Englishwoman who performs at cabarets in 1930 Berlin at the time the Nazi Party is taking over the government of Germany.

But while Bowles is seen singing and dancing in the musical, there are just references to her performances in I Am a Camera.

The setting is a Berlin bedsit occupied by a young British author, Christopher Isherwood, who is suffering writer’s block after having his first book published to poor reviews.

Bowles comes into his life through a friend and takes over the room, the penniless Isherwood moving into a smaller one across the corridor.

The play’s title refers to the writer’s declaration that his mind is taking pictures of all that is happening around him for future use in stories.

And the things he sees – the reactions of people to each other and to the changes that are occurring in Germany – make an engrossing and often very funny tale.

I Am a Camera is being staged by Newcastle Theatre Company at its Lambton venue for a three-week season opening on October 5.

Its cast is headed by Sam DeLyall as Isherwood and newcomer Brittany Angus as Bowles, with Judith Schofield as landlady Fraulein Schneider, Ellen McNeil as Natalia Landaeur, one of Isherwood’s English language students, Lindsay McDonald as Isherwood’s money-hungry friend Fritz who is attracted to Natalia, David Murray as wealthy playboy Clive Mortimer, and Tracey Gordon as Sally’s prim and proper English mother.

Playwright John Van Druten based I Am a Camera on stories by real-life author Isherwood, written while he was struggling in Berlin in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Isherwood had no objections to his name being used in Van Druten’s play, but his character became a young American writer, Cliff Bradshaw, when I Am a Camera was transformed into Cabaret.

Kelsie Clarke is impressed by the way Van Druten shows what was happening in Berlin almost a decade before Germany’s invasion of neighbouring countries led to World War II.

‘‘The play gets audience members wondering what will happen to Natalia and Fritz,’’ she said.

Ellen McNeil shares Clarke’s appreciation of the playwright’s development of the characters.

‘‘Natalia is a Jew in a world that is turning to chaos,’’ she said.

‘‘But her father has brought her up to be strong, though she doesn’t show that until she is frightened.’’

As she notes, Natalia’s use of English gets warm laughter from audiences and smiles from the characters around her.

Lindsay McDonald said Fritz sees himself as a magnet for women.

‘‘He is confident about his sexual prowess, but is in a lot of trouble financially,’’ he said.

‘‘He sees Natalia as a prospect of financial support, but discovers he is not used to women like her, as she is very blunt in her treatment of him. But that helps him to fall in love with her.’’

I Am a Camera opens at Newcastle Theatre Company, 90 DeVitre Street, Lambton, on Saturday, October 5, at 8pm, followed by a 2pm matinee on Sunday, October 6. It then plays Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm until October 19, plus a Saturday matinee on October 12 at 2pm. Tickets: $28, concession $22. Bookings: 49524958.

Elen McNeill as Natalia Landauer, Brittany Angus as Sally Bowles, and Sam De Lyall as Christopher Isherwood in I Am a Camera. Picture: Peter Stoop

Matthew Thompson runs with the Blood God: Prologue reading

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Please enable Javascript to watch this video AUTHOR: Matthew Thompson
Nanjing Night Net

Matthew Thompson interview

Kosovo reading

Epilogue reading

MATTHEW Thompson’s new book,Running With The Blood God, will not leave a footprint on your brain – it will leave a bootprint, indelibly inked in your subconscious.

Thompson, who holds a doctorate in creative arts, is a part-time firefighter in Dungog, where he lives with his wife Renae and daughter Avalon. He is also a guest lecturer at universities and writes freelance articles.

Five years ago he published his first book,My Colombian Death, an intense non-fiction account of his six-month journey to the exotic, drug-laden South American country full of characters and character.

Blood God, his second book, charts a course through even more dangerous territory.

He spends time in Iran, avoiding the ever-probing eyes of soldiers, police and shady operatives who are constantly arresting, harassing and torturing ordinary citizens who dare to disobey the strict Muslim covenants set by then leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He journeys to the Philippines, secretly visiting guerillas in the jungles north-west of Manila.

He takes a jolting road trip from Serbia to Kosovo with hard-core Serbian nationalists.

And finally, a stop in Portland, Oregon, to hang out with counterculturists and Native Americans in one of the most alternative major cities in America.

The book is subtitled ‘‘down and dirty with freedom fighters, rebels and misfits’’ and Thompson certainly gives his subjects, who come from all walks of life but have common ground in fighting against governments they consider unjust, a fair chance to explain themselves.

‘‘It’s more of a literary work,’’ Thompson says, comparing it to his first book. ‘‘It’s still adventure, gritty, real things. But I decided to leave a fair bit up to the reader. T

“Too much interpretation is taken from the reader these days, too many opinions are pushed on people.

‘‘My book has more respect for the reader. People all around the world, in dictatorships, cracked-up states, lost countries .. A huge variety of people, they all have the urge to live freer than their societies will allow. It’s up to the reader to decide how they fit into that .. what’s life add up to in the end.’’

In between philosophical discussions about the purpose of government, the value of civil disobedience, the role of religion and the like, Thompson indulges in opium (in Iran and the US), marijuana and cocaine, drinks everything from Portland’s boutique beers, to Serbia’s home-made plum brandy to contraband vodka and wine in Iran, all with the locals, of course.

‘‘When in Rome … do as the Romans do,’’ Thompson says.

‘‘I go for a month [to each location] and I see them and we get trust. I don’t agree, but I’m listening, so they open up. That’s what it takes. … It takes time with people. There is something to respect about drinking with sources. It’s a respectable occupation. It may not suit people prone to alcoholism, but you train, get into the field and go hard.’’

There is constant personal danger in Iran, the fear of being detained. In Kosovo one of his travelling partners is seriously stabbed in a confrontation and Thompson steps in, surrounded by Albanian thugs (saving himself by yelling ‘‘Leave him! Get off him! I’m Australian! I’m f–––king Australian!’’)

For Thompson, it’s all about living life to the fullest.

‘‘I don’t take stupid risks. I take them a calculated way,’’ he says. ‘‘I don’t want to shy away from the world and its wildness.’’

He thinks everybody should pause to consider that concept.

‘‘Adventure is healthy. Sure, it’s injurious at times, put things under strain. So does long-term decline. The people I’m meeting, the spirit of the book: wake up and become who you are!’’