ReviewsQueen of MarsLGBTI Theatre Festival 2017

Theatre ReviewsQueen of MarsTheatre on Brunker, AdamstownEnds April 1JOHN Wood, the writer and director of Queen of Mars, has said that he used the style of English playwright Alan Ayckbourn who shows the reactions of people to events that affect their families and friends amusingly but with moving moments. That is certainly the case in this look at a young n woman who is chosen to be a member of a team who will travel to Mars but not return.

The play’s first half shows the woman, Alicia (Amy Wilde), telling friends and family that she is in the final group of international applicants for the Mars venture, with the closing moments showing her receiving the news by phone that she has been selected. In the second half, Alicia’s parents give her what they call a surprise birthday party, even though her birthday is three months away, with other guests more realistically referring to it as a going-away party. The reminiscences about past events and acquaintances frequently lead to arguments, initially jovial but increasingly darker, about what actually happened.

John Wood and the actors make the changing moods of the people understandable. Mark (Andrew Black), her boyfriend for four years, is the first she breaks the news of her finalist status to, inviting him to dine with her at a very upmarket restaurant. He is naturally upset. So, too, is her mother, Michelle (Jan Hunt), who spends much of the going-away party in the kitchen to try to hide her feelings. Her father, Craig (Patrick O’Brien), is more receptive but his concerns about the Mars trek also come out at the celebration. Younger brother Jason (James Chapman), a keen television watcher who was aware of plans for the Mars excursion, offers his support. Longtime friend Lauren (Emily Daly) and Josie (Elissa Shand), a workmate at the firm where Alicia is a lawyer, are generally convivial, as is her employer Duncan (Carl Gregory), who jokingly refers to her as “Alicia, the alien”.

The writer includes habits that audience members will recognise, such as Craig and Jason watching a television cricket test match while the party guests are arriving. Likewise, the shifts in moods are very recognisable. And the joking actions are believable, with Jason showing his research ability and reflecting the habits of many young adults when he presents his sister with space food sticks, a type of food that was developed for use on space ships in the early years of space exploration, except that Jason’s, so he asserts, include pot.

This premiere production is well worth seeing, with designer Chris Bird’s mix of settings adding to the show’s enjoyable reality.

LGBTI Theatre Festival 2017Catapult Dance Studio, Newcastle – March 10THE eight acts in the inaugural Newcastle LGBTI Theatre Festival for the most part showed engagingly how people make the most of changing their sexual orientation and have others accept that.

The colourfully dressed Asia Pop, in her number Heart Sweet Home, and accompanied by the schoolgirlishly-clad Carmen Mayflower, movingly revealed the problems she had in winning acceptance in her country town, while guitar-playing Teddy (Theodore Devere), in With Love, warmly paid tribute to the acceptance he’d had from family and friends, declaring in the lyrics that “Home is where I want to be”. And 19-year-old Dixie Normous cheerfully showed how drag performances had helped him come out of a confining shell.

The dialogue-based sequences included a short play, Reflection, by now Paris-based former Newcastle resident Jimi Goninan, and directed by the festival producer, Chris Le Page. Actors Jacob Agius and Harrison Cater engagingly presented the story of a young man struggling with his inner demons and feeling adrift in a world where physical connections had replaced emotional ones. Two other actors, Cassie Hamilton and Chris Shanko, used dialogue and song through In My Words to reveal the challenges they had encountered when feeling different to colleagues while growing up, and ultimately discovering their own identity and finding a place in society.

There were attention-grabbing scenes from coming full-length Newcastle productions that include gay characters. Writer and director Riley McLean’s Do Your Parents Know You’re Straight?, which is being staged by Eclectic Productions in early May, has a world where the people are homosexual, with the central character, a straight boy called Casey, struggling for acceptance. The staged excerpts showed how well the writer-director has used humour to make entertaining comment on sexual attitudes in today’s world. And the festival performance ended with the bright and lively song Seasons of Love, delivered by the ensemble from Pantseat Performance Arts’ April production of the hit Broadway musical Rent, which looks at the lives of would-be actors in New York, some of whom are gay.

The only festival item that didn’t work well was the opening sequence, How much does your secret weigh?. Performer Vivienne Eliot stood in the middle of the performance space with dozens of pieces of black ribbons and strings on the floor in front of her, with audience members expected to tie one on her and share a secret before returning to their seats. Fewer than 20 pieces were tied on her arms and legs in a 25-minute period, with most attached swiftly by offstage production team members. The audience should have been told at the show’s opening what was expected of them, encouraging one person after another to come forward.

Stars of Newcastle 2017: Cancer Council dance competition launches with a vow to wow

Newcastle ‘stars’ think they can dance Cveta Jovanoska from Yoga Loft posing for official pictures with photographer Kirsten Woodforth. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Contestant Britt Coombe from QBE Insurance at the Cancer Council Stars of Newcastle competition launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Cancer Council Stars of Newcastle competition launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Cancer Council Stars of Newcastle competition launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Photographer Kirsten Woodforth directing contestants Cveta Jovanoska from Yoga Loft and RAAF Squadron Leader Will Trott during an official photo shoot at the launch. Sydney Junction Hotel, Hamilton. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Cveta Jovanoska from Yoga Loft and RAAF Squadron Leader Will Trott posing for an official photo at the launch. Sydney Junction Hotel, Hamilton. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

University of Newcastle cancer researcher Nikki Verrills at the Cancer Council Stars of Newcastle competition launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Cancer Council Stars of Newcastle competition launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Cancer Council Stars of Newcastle competition launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Contestants Cveta Jovanoska from Yoga Loft and RAAF Squadron Leader Will Trott posing for an official photo at the launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

University of Newcastle cancer researcher Nikki Verrills interviewing contestant Chris Elliott who starred on TV show The Block. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Cancer Council Stars of Newcastle competition launch. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Contestant Brodie Owen from The Newcastle Herald getting a quick makeup refresh from Shannon Brown of The Mask Academy. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Cveta Jovanoska from Yoga Loft posing for official pictures with photographer Kirsten Woodforth. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald’s Brodie Owen, have stepped up for Stars of Newcastle, which officially launched at Sydney Junction Hotel on Tuesday.

The dance competitionhopes to raise $100,000 for Cancer Council NSW, while also casting a differentlight on some familiar faces.

This year’s eventwill showcase media personalities, journalists, businesspeople, anda squadron leader fromRAAF Base Williamtown.

The“stars” have been assigned a genre, andwill be put through their paces bythe Newcastle Dance Academy,before a one-night only concert later this year.

Cancer Council regional director Shayne Connell said the event–now in its third year–was a crucial date on the organisation’s fundraising calendar.

“A lot of people think we’re government-funded, [but] it’sactually events like this that driveall of our services,” Mr Connell said.

RAAF Williamtown squadron leader Will Trott said the event was “totally outside” his comfort zone.

“But it’s the Cancer Council –how could you not want to support such an outstanding organisation?” he said.

“Our family has had a bad run with cancer, so if I can help just a little bit, whether it’s something as simple as getting a mum to see another Christmas, or a day out to see a child’s footy game, it’s got to be a good thing.”

Details: starsofnewcastle成都夜总会招聘.au

Stars of Newcastle 2017Britt Coombe –QBE Insurance

Brodie Owen – Newcastle Herald

Chris Elliott –The Block

Clare Rogers –Sydney Junction Hotel

Christen Cable –Kis Marketing

Cveta Jovanoska –Yoga Loft

Jack Lodge –Event Cinemas Glendale

Kim Elliott –The Block

Mato Demir –Demato Construction

Richard King –Radio 2HD

Sam Djodan –NBN News

Dr Susannah Ward–doctor

Will Trott –RAAF Base Williamtown

Hunter writer’s first novel set in dystopian rainforest

IMAGINED WORLDS: Author Thoraiya Dyer, now living in Sydney and published in New York but still a proud Novocastrian at heart. Picture: Cat Sparks

AS a child, Thoraiya Dyer says she was always writing stories.

Thoraiya DyerCrossroads of Canopy –Dyer had more than two dozen stories in print.

Along the way, she picked up various gongs for her science-fiction and fantasy work, winning four Aurealis Awards and three Ditmar Awards.

Most of her stories were publishedin small specialist titles, and as she writes in the acknowledgements accompanying Crossroads of Canopy, she has followed a “tortuous path” to this point, including a move to Sydney in 2015.

“Who would have guessed that the were-platypus [as in werewolf] novel would be buried by another 10 full novel manuscripts as well as various detritus left by the raising of actual children,” Dyer says.

But she was always aiming high.

“It was always my goal to be published in the US, not only because it’s a much bigger audience, but because I would like to see possums and koalas and n plants and trees in print as much as we see American wildlife,” Dyer says.

Crossroads of Canopy, the first installment ofa contracted trilogy, is published by Tor Books, a New York imprint that is part of the venerable Macmillan Publishing Group.

Fantasy is not my normal reading choice, but Dyer’s imagined dystopian future, of battling tribes struggling to survive in a massive, multi-storey rainforest, got me in from the start. She describes it as “drawing inspiration from Western and Eastern traditions, including the Nepalese incarnated goddess, Kumari, in a monsoonal rainforest with arboreal fighting”.

There are basic similarities with the blockbuster Avatar,but Canopy’s feminist sympathies are a long way away from the “white savior” undertones that Dyer’s sees in the James Cameronfilm.

Most authors dream of seeing their fiction expressed on screen and Dyer is no exception, with an agent in the US scouting for the deal that could break her into the big time.

In the meantime, she is coming home this weekend, to launch Crossroads of Canopy at MacLean’s Booksellers in Beaumont Street, Hamilton, from 4pm to 6pm on Saturday, March 18.

TheatreDark reality of DreamtimeKen Longworth

WHEN Maitland actor and director Zac Smith read the American play Dreamtime he was surprised initially to see that it had mentions of truckers with kangaroo heads and other n references.

But as he got further into the play he found that two of the main characters, 17-year-old boys in their final year at a United States high school, dream of going to and living a more exciting life as they explore its mountains and oceans.

They come up with a plan to finance their escape by stealing money from homes. However, when they go into the house of husband-and-wife university professors, they are discovered by the occupants and kill them while escaping. The escape, though, is just physical. The boys keep dreaming about meeting the couple they killed. And their dreams also include references to the belief of n Aboriginals that the world was created by their spirit ancestors in the Dreamtime.

Maitland Repertory’s Reamus Youth Theatre is staging the n premiere of Dreamtime at a two-weekend season from Friday, March 24, with Zac Smith making his debut as a sole director. While researching the play, he made contact with its US writer, Maura Campbell, who based the story on a real crime that occurred near her Vermont home in 2001, with teens Jimmy Parker and Robert Tulloch murdering Dartmouth University professors Susanne and Half Zantop. Campbell had worked with the father of one of the boys and had encountered both the teens. And she had been an exchange student in for a year in the 1970s and had personal experience of the landscapes the boys wanted to escape to. Campbell has stressed that she didn’t write Dreamtime to exploit the real-life events, but to examine them.

The youths in Dreamtime are Noah (played by Robert Lewis) and Willy (Conagh Punch), with Alastair Anderberg and Millie Chorlton as professors Joerg and Greta. Alex Simpson and Emma Ure, billed as Actor 1 and Actor 2, each play about 10 characters. The play’s action keeps moving between the reality of the people’s lives and their dreams of what they’d like life to be. Ironically, the female professor here is an expert on Russian literature and is marking student papers on Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment when she and her husband encounter the boys.

Dreamtime is being staged in the round at Maitland Repertory Theatre, with platforms used for scenes of rock-climbing, the boys’ houses and the professors’ home.The play runs from March 24 to April 1, with performances on Friday and Saturday at 8pm and at 2pm on March 26. Tickets: $17. Bookings: 4931 2800; maitlandticketing成都夜总会招聘.au.

SURREAL: Robert Lewis and Conagh Punch as Noah and Willy in Dreamtime, being staged by Maitland Repertory’s Reamus Youth Theatre.

NRL: Dane Gagai confident Newcastle Knights moving in right direction ahead of South Sydney clash

UP AND AWAY: Dane Gagai leaps out of a tackle against the Gold Coast. The star centre is confident the win over the Titans is just the start for the Knights. Picture: Getty Images

DANE Gagai could see what Knights coach Nathan Brown was aiming to achieve.

It was the reason the Queensland Origin star resisted overtures to rejoin the Broncos and their all-star cast and stick with Newcastle.

It has taken 12 months of hard slog –and disappointment –but Gagai is adamant the Knights are finally headed in the right direction.

The breakthrough 34-26 triumph over the Titans on Saturday ended a club record 19-straight losses for the 20015-16wooden-spooners.

“It obviously meant a lot,”Gagai said on the win.

“Last year and the year before were obviously tough ones.The boys trained well through the pre-season and leading into round one I knew we were building something special. I wanted to be a part of that.I have been at this club for a number of years now, and this club is definitely moving in a forward direction. I didn’t look at it as though we had lost 19 straight. We have lost one game this year and won one.It was great to get the win, but there is room for improvement and we are going to keep working and hopefully string together a few more.”

Next is South Sydney at home on Saturday, and another chance to end a drought.The Knights have lost seven straight games to the Rabbitohs, the past four by an average scoreline of 46-8.

“Wehave a lot of depth in the club now which is something we didn’t have much of last year,” Gagai said.“With injuries we had to play a lot of young fellas. Now we have people competing for jerseys. We have a good squad and boys who genuinely want to be here and want to win.”

Newcastle were embarrassed 48-6 by a Souths side without Adam Reynolds in round two last season.

Gagai, Trent Hodkinson, Danny Levi, and Daniel and Jacob Saifiti are theonly players from that match in the 17 named for Saturday.

The heavy defeatwas only the Saifitibrothers second game in the NRL. Daniel now has 20 appearances and Jacob 18.They have both added at least six kilograms of muscle.It is a similar story for a number of last season’s rookies.

“The key is to be better than last week and keep improving,” Gagai said.

“We have a lot more depth, and the squad we have now is a lot different to the one we had last year.

“I believe in thisteam. It comes down to us. We can’t control what they are going to do, what they are going to throw at us. But we can do the best we can defensively and in attack to put us in a position to come away with twopoints.”

Gagai, after a relatively quiet performance in the 26-22 loss to the Warriors in the season opener, was strong against the Titans and carried the ball a game-high 168 metres.

“Round one, I could have been a lot better,” he said.“Round, two I picked my game up and was a lot happier with my performance.”

The 26-year-old with 113 gamesis part of new right edge alongside rookie five-eighth Brock Lamb and recent arrivalsJamie Buhrer (second row) and Ken Sio (winger).

Most of the Knights triesin the opening two games have come down the left side. Winger Nathan Ross has four and centre Peter Mata’utia two.

Gagai said thecombination on the right“feels good” and had plenty of “strike power”.

“Kenny is a good strong ball runner,” he said.“It depends on the flow of attack.If I can get a quick play the ball and it goes to the left and they score, then I class that as a win for the right edge. It is about giving players around us an opportunity to do well. Obviously it is nice getting tries, but if I can play a hand in setting them up it is just as rewarding. I’d like to score one before the end of the year but it is a team sport.It is not about seeing who can score the most tries, it is about winning games.”

Blood-scribbled messages cover walls of Sydney unit where mother and son found dead

Detectives and uniformed police examine the Hillsdale apartment where the bodies of a woman and child were discovered. Photo: Michele MossopBarely decipherable words scribbled in blood near the bodies of a mother and child inside a Sydney eastern suburbs unit.

That is what confronted police when they busted into a Hillsdale apartment on Monday afternoon following the deaths of mother and son, Stacey Docherty and four-year-old Seth.

Twenty-four hours after the grim discovery, police say they are still keeping an open mind as to whether a third person was involved or if it was a case of murder-suicide.

Stacey Docherty and her son, Seth, were found dead in a Hillsdale apartment on Monday afternoon. Photo: Facebook

Fairfax Media understands that rambling messages were written over the walls, some of which appeared to be in blood, when emergency services found the pair at 1.20pm on Monday.

Ms Docherty’s ex-partner and the father of her son is believed to have raised the alarm when he knocked on the door and no one answered.

He took to Facebook on Tuesday to express his grief.

Forensic officers combed the apartment on Monday afternoon. Photo: Michele Mossop

“I’m going through some gnarly process but will get through this,” he said.

“I will post some pics of me and my son for those (many) who never had the pleasure of seeing him. I feel grateful for a brief time I got to be a father to a beautiful little boy.

“Vale Seth Bon Docherty.”

It is unclear how the mother and son had died with police ruling out gas as the cause.

Police are keeping an “open mind” about the involvement of others in the two deaths. Photo: Facebook

The mother-of-one listed her job on Facebook as a nursing manager from Christchurch, New Zealand, and filled her social media feed with photos of her son.

She posted numerous pictures of the pair at beaches and playgrounds as well as a photo of her fresh tattoo, a quote that says: “bad things happen when good people stand back”.

Stacey Docherty and her son, Seth. Photo: Facebook

In one post, she described her then two-year old son as a “gentle, smart boy”.

On Tuesday morning, a police spokeswoman said it was still unclear what happened to the pair.

She said police were still investigating whether it was a murder-suicide or if another person was involved in the deaths.

“It’s still very much under investigation,” she said.

Ms Docherty was known to police after officers attended the street last year when she smashed three of her neighbours’ cars with a bat following a dispute over parking.

“My dad’s van was parked here, and she smashed the front and back window,” one neighbour, Odysseus, said.

“I was at the local park and then [a neighbour] came and told me that she was going crazy here, and I came back and we all tried to stop her.

“She started swinging at my dad and saying racist stuff about Assyrian people, that we’re all terrorists and that. Then police came and stopped her.”

Though there were initial reports of a strong smell of gas in the apartment complex, police have since ruled that out as contributing to the mother and son’s death.

Government shelved Testers Hollow upgrades in 2015

Testers Hollow after the January 2016 storm.The state government decided it wasn’t necessary to flood-proof Testers Hollow three months before the April super storm, documents show.

The opposition has renewed calls for the government to find a solution to flood problems atthe troubled spot. Meanwhile, the government says its investigation into the problems is ongoing.

Internal Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime Services documents, obtained by Labor under freedom of information laws, show that the Roads and Freight Minister at the time Duncan Gay approved a request to shelve flood mitigation at Testers Hollow in January, 2015.

In an internal memo to Mr Gay, the then RMS chief executive Peter Duncan argued against flood mitigation work at the site because the cost would have outweighed the benefit of three options put forward byfirm Worley Parsons.

The options included raising the road for about $7.3 million to provide protection from a one in 12 year flood, $8.6 million to guard against a one in 20 year inundation or $18 million to stave off a one in 100 year incident.

“If Main Road 195 (Cessnock Road) is closed at Testers Hollow due to flooding, the Hunter Expressway provides a flood-free route for motorists travelling from Kurri Kurri to Maitland,” the memo noted.

Testers Hollow left high and dry | PHOTOS OVERDUE: Great-granddaughter of William Tester June Hirst believes the flooding problem should have been fixed long ago. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

FRUSTRATION: Cliftleigh resident Sonia Warby and daughter Kirra-lea after the January 2016 storm closed Testers Hollow for almost five days.

Testers Hollow was blocked for almost five days in January 2016. Picture: Nick Bielby

Testers Hollow was blocked for almost five days in January 2016. Picture: Nick Bielby

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sage Swinton

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sage Swinton

Cars contend with flood waters as Testers Hollow rises during the April storm. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Boat crews help send supplies to Gillieston Heights, which was cut off by floodwater on both sides in April 2015. Photo: Sonia Warby.

Testers Hollow was closed from April 21 to May 7, 2015 due to flooding. Photo: Sonia Warby.

A bus trapped in floodwater at Testers Hollow in 1929.

A bus trapped in floodwater at Testers Hollow in 1929.

Passengers from the stranded bus were rowed to dry land.

Testers Hollow

East Maitland, across from golf course. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

No through road, Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth park. Picture by Charles Willacy

Horseshoe Bend, Maitland. Picture by Charles Willacy

Morpeth. Picture by Charles Willacy

East Maitland. Picture by Charles Willacy

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‘Claire’ wrongly blamed for ‘paleo pear and banana bread’ line

Senator James Patterson during a meeting with representatives of volunteer firefighters at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 10 October 2016. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex EllinghausenA junior public servant who was mocked for talking about “paleo pear and banana bread” in a widely ridiculed government recruitment ad was wrongly blamed by her boss for inventing the line.

The Department of Finance video, which was slammed as cringeworthy and atrocious after it went viral earlier this month, features a group of real-life staff members spruiking the exciting benefits of the department’s graduate program.

In one memorable exchange, a young woman named Claire has a chat to colleagues: “Hey guys, I’m just heading downstairs for my paleo pear and banana bread. Would you like to join me?”

Her offer was rebuffed by an older colleague, who said the delicacy was “a little bit fancy for me”.

The jarring line became a symbol of the awkwardly-scripted video, and even became the subject of discussion at a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House. Liberal senator James Paterson said the line “stood out to me and struck me as perhaps a little trivial” and asked Department of Finance officials for an explanation.

“I understand the reasons you would be doing this, but it seems a bit trivial for a serious agency of government … to be joking about paleo pear and banana bread,” he said.

David Fredericks, a deputy secretary of the department who also makes a wooden cameo in the video, jumped in.

“I can tell you a small back story on that,” he offered.

“That was a change made in the script at the time of the filming. It was actually made at the request of the graduate. It was basically accepted because we took the view, and I think the agency took the view, that we are possibly not the best people to know and understand how best to communicate to a young generation of graduates. So this graduate, with a bit of innovation, wanted to change the script.”

Senator Paterson responded: “Right. So you are exonerating the agency for having written that line?”

Mr Fredericks replied “yes”.

But Claire never asked for the line to be included and Fairfax Media understands Mr Frederick’s claim did not go down well inside the department.

He has now written to the Senate committee correcting his evidence, noting he has “since been advised that a member of the production crew suggested this change to the script”.

The cafe inside the department’s plush building doesn’t even have paleo pear and banana bread on its menu.

Government tenders show the Department of Finance is spending $37,400 with ad agency Together Creative, which describes itself as a “famously good creative agency” that develops “head-turning campaigns”. The ad cost $4000 to produce.

A spokesperson for the department declined to say whether Claire had received an apology.

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This working class boy is a changed man

TELL ALL: Jimmy Barnes brings his Working Class Boy show to the Civic Theatre on March 23. Want to win tickets? Enter today’s giveaway. Picture: Stephanie BarnesIt takes a brave man to face his fears. But to bare yourheart and soul and talk publicly about your deepest, darkest secretsin an attempt to help others? That takes real guts.

Jimmy Barnes made the decision to be that man. And it saved his life.

The much-loved singer’scareer,both as a solo performer and as the lead vocalist of Cold Chisel, has made him oneof the most successful artists inn music history. But all his life Barnes had been battling the demons of his childhood.

Writing Working Class Boy was a form of therapy for Barnes. A sorely needed one at that. This is a man who, over many years, almost drank himself to death in a desperateattempt to forget his past.

“Alot of the issues I hadn’t spoken about to anybody, not even my siblings. I’d tried to block them out,” he tells Weekender.

“They say it’s a memoir but in a way I’ve been running from this shit my whole life.

“The stuff I wasn’t addressing was killing me. That was what had been making me drink myself to death, you know? It was damaging me in so many different ways.”

His Stories & Songs shows, based on the book, are a distinct change of pace.Barnes is joined onstageby children Mahalia and Jackie, and son-in-law Ben Rodgers, and shares the stories and memories that made him the man he is today.

Working Class Boy closed a chapter of his life, opened a new one and uncovered some life-changing footnotes along the way.

“I knew I had to write it. So I sat down and every time I’d write a chapter I’d feel a weight lift off my shoulders,” Barnes says.

“It was great buttowards the end of the book I thought ‘You know what? As soon as I finish it I could tear it up’. Delete it. It had done its job.

“It was only when I finished the book that I realisedthere were probably a lot of people who had been through something similar and hadn’t dealt with it.

“And I knew there werea lot of people still living in themiddle of it. Alot of people living in poverty, a lot of people living with domestic violence, a lot of people living with alcoholism and abuse.

“Iput it out there and thought Icould start a conversation because people really do need to talk about it. Especially domestic violence. I don’t have the solution but it can only help to shine the light on it.”

The story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes traces his life from his earliest Glasgow recollections of trauma, alcoholism and violence to the beginnings of Cold Chisel in 1974 when he was 17 and left the family home.

“I don’t blame my parents, you know, for how my life was,” Barnessays.

“I know what they went through. It’s not about blame, it’sabout acknowledging what effect something has had on you, and letting go of that.”

Barnes investigatedall aspects of eachmemory, fromall sides, to discover how the story really panned out.The sometimes painful revelations answered a lot of questions, and joined many dots, for his family.

“It gave them another insight into why I am who I am. For 50 years I was trying to drink myself to death and they couldn’t work out why,” Barnes says.

“It’s been really therapeutic, really cathartic,for my family.

“There has to be a point in life where you break the cycle. My father started to try to do it, my stepfather helped, but I had more opportunity to do it. So I took it.”

Barnes gave up drinking for 10 years and now “drinks a little but not much”.

“From thetime Iwas a young fella until not so long back, whenever I drank it was to get hammered. I didn’t drink for taste. Now instead of a bottle or two I have a sip of whisky,” he says.

“I’m just enjoying life now, you know? I’ve still got issues and problems but I’ve dealt with most of them and it’s opened up the door to deal with the rest of it.”

When asked if these thoughts, feelings and memories could have been expressed by him in song, Barnes pauses.

“You know what? They could be now. But not while I was still blocking them out. The big issues didn’t come out in the lyrics of my songs but the fear and the guilt, the anger and the love –those emotions came out in everything I have sung since the day I started singing.”

And people felt a connection?

“That’s because I was reaching out in those songs. I needed to talk to someone, anyone, and it came out in the way I sang,” Barnes explains.

“Songs can allow you to show that you’re vulnerable, to show that you’re on the edge. Music gives you a lot of avenues to express emotions where you don’t have to talk.

“People think it’s a sign of weakness to show that they’re vulnerable when in fact it becomes a strength. Everything I wrote in this book, it empowered me. Idon’t feel vulnerable any more.”

Jimmy Barnes is at the Civic Theatre on March 23.

Sydney weather: Commuters set for damp journey to work

Commuting is likely to be a damp affair on Wednesday morning, after steady showers settled over Sydney on Tuesday.

Parts of the city’s west including Baulkham Hills, Prospect and Blacktown copped more than 50mm from 9am to 6pm, causing flash flooding, while Mt Boyce in the Blue Mountains was drenched with 72mm of rain in the same period.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting rain and thunderstorms to linger in Sydney for the rest of the week. Up to 15mm of rain is expected in the city on Wednesday, with conditions expected to improve throughout the day.

Thunderstorms threatened the city on Tuesday morning, with heavy falls earlier in the day over an arc stretching from Gosford in the north around to Blacktown and Penrith in Sydney’s west.

The Bureau of Meteorology cancelled its warning of severe thunderstorms for Sydney and the Hunter regions, but left it in place for northern parts of the state around Narrabri.

The threat in the north remained for large hailstones and heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding and damaging winds, with locations likely to be affected including Gunnedah, Moree, Walgett, Coonamble and Lightning Ridge.

Jacob Cronje, a senior meteorologist with Weatherzone, said the nature of the weather set-up involving an upper-level cut-off low pressure explained the relatively broad and long-lasting warning from the bureau through much of Tuesday.

“These systems behave in complex way with surface features,” such as moisture streaming in from offshore, Mr Cronje said. “That makes it very difficult to pinpoint the areas of most-persistent rainfall” and storms.

While Observatory Hill had been mostly dry for the past couple of days, the site was forecast to receive 10-25 millimetres of rain by the day’s end.

Some of the heaviest falls on Tuesday were Horsley Park, with 47 mm and Badgerys Creek with 41 mm.

John Keeble, a resident of Bilpin in the Blue Mountains, said his spot had collected 122 mm of rain since 7 am, and was the “heaviest rain I’ve ever seen up here”.

“We also don’t have any power at the moment, I’m running on [a] generator,” Mr Keeble said. “Maybe the lightning this morning knocked something out.

Showers should be a feature of every day until at least next Monday, the bureau said, with Friday’s 10-25 mm looking likely to be the wettest at this point.

Weatherzone: Sydney radar

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