Page 2861 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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In 2004, the Canberra Theatre introduced audio-described performances in collaboration with the Royal Blind Society of the ACT for those who are blind or vision impaired, a great start and a challenge to the rest of us. It also introduced Auslan interpreted performances in collaboration with professional interpreters from Precision Hands and the ACT Deafness Resource Centre. The Canberra Theatre Centre is now also working with The Captioning Studio to provide live captioning to audience members for selected performances within both the subscription season and the Playtime Theatre season for children and families. The Captioning Studio is a locally based organisation but has national recognition. This is yet another leadership activity from the so-called city with no soul.

The Canberra Theatre Centre is committed to creating a welcoming environment, prioritising and promoting access for everyone, which includes access to the best performing arts available as well as access for people who may not otherwise be able to attend the theatre. The Canberra Theatre Centre is highly recognised by theatre venues, peak disability service bodies and theatre companies nationally for its access initiatives. This is another goal of the Canberra social plan to promote the inclusion of people with a disability in all areas of the ACT community and not condemn them to a second-class lifestyle because of a disability. I thank the Canberra Theatre for its vision, its commitment to its patrons over many decades, and the courage it has displayed in providing this leadership.

I would now like to share with the Assembly some of my personal experiences at the theatre. If I can recall back to the 1970s, one on my first experiences there was to see the band Split Enz from New Zealand. They were a fantastic band and had wonderful costumes to promote their music. Among the great hits they had were I Got You, I Hope I Never and Poor Boy, which went on to be in the top 10. The backup band at the time was Men at Work. We did not know anything of Men at Work, but the songs that they played in supporting Split Enz went into the top 10 as well. In fact, at number one was Who Can It Be Now, and Down Under came shortly afterwards.

Not long after that I went to see the Rocky Horror Show at the Canberra Theatre. The compere for the night was Stuart Wagstaff and it was a fantastic show. It was great entertainment. The staff and the audience all wore Rocky Horror Show costumes. I remember how impressed I was to be served champagne by a very attractive lady called Leoni who was wearing a Rocky Horror Show short skirt and a torn top. She was so impressive that my best friend ended up marrying her.

Chuck Berry played shortly after at the Canberra Theatre. I remember his famous song Maybelline. He played 12-bar blues and he brought his daughter across from America to sing with him at the Canberra Theatre. I remember how he organised the whole audience in a risque singsong that made even me blush a little. Later, after the 1970s, I attended the theatre to see another Australian band called Sherbert. You have probably all heard of them. They had Howzat, which was a hit on the top 10. I also saw the Ted Mulry Gang, our own Aussie glam rock band, and Hush. The band went on to perform at Ginninderra high, which was then in its heyday. Jump In My Car still reverberates on the home stereo every now and again.

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