Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Fallen Regent

The coverage of the impending closure of the Regent Theatre in Brisbane’s CBD, has thousands ill-informed, but still lobbying against the cultural and historical implications of the building's impending redevelopment.

The Hollywood style picture palace, having celebrated its 80th birthday in November last year, is one of only two left in Australia and deeply rooted in Brisbane’s history.

The iconic Regent theatre, erected in 1929 has been a glamorous reminder of years long since past and a memorable fixture in Brisbane’s CBD.

The land on which it stands and the theatre itself was originally owned by Dr James Mayne.

“Mayne didn’t want it sold, he didn’t want the theatre closed. It actually said in his will that unless it was absolutely necessary. He said ‘I don’t want the theatre to be closed’” says spearhead of the Save The Regent campaign, Brett Debritz.

“In a way it is kind of disrespectful to him as someone who gave Brisbane so much,” he said.

“This is one of the last theatres of its kind. The Melbourne Regent has been restored recently and the one in Sydney is gone. So this is one of only two left,” he said.

There are concerns that coverage of the issues surrounding the Regent’s history and the development have been lacking, therefore leaving the people of Brisbane ill-informed.

“The problem is some of the people don’t quite get what it’s about. There are a few people who think they’re going to knock down the whole building, which they’re not. They’re going to knock everything down beyond the marble staircase,” say Debritz.

The initial plans for the $800 million redevelopment, proposed two years ago, originally protected the four theatres and the foyer.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman voiced his opposition to the proposed closure of the Regent, and Labor’s Lord Mayoral candidate Greg Rowell started a petition.

The greens also oppose the plan.

The development plans according to law must also preserve those elements of the Regent Theatre that are currently entered on the Queensland Heritage Register.

“The original directive protected the whole building, including the cinemas and the bar. It protected everything. The second directive only protected the foyer,” said Debritz.

In May 2009 the Brisbane City Council approved the redevelopment of the Regent Theatre, Wintergarden Shopping Centre and the Hilton Hotel.

“The Queensland Government used rarely applied call-in powers to protect the Regent Theatre’s heritage features and ensure its continued use as a cinema.” said the Premier and Minister for the Arts, Anna Bligh.

“The theatre will remain a cultural hub, whilst performing a more practical function” said the Premier.

The resulting space from the development will be used for the new Queensland Film and Television headquarters.

“The cultural role of the Regent Theatre will be further strengthened as the Queensland Film and Television Centre will be housed within the heritage listed areas of the development,” she said.

“The redeveloped venue will also house the offices of the Pacific Film and Television Commission, the Brisbane International Film Festival and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards,” said the Premier.

Closing on June 6, the theatre confronts a devastating facelift in the coming months.

The four movie theatres which are not heritage listed, including the showcase cinema, and will be “remodelled” into three smaller auditoria.

These three multipurpose auditoria will play films at the weekends and during public holidays.

“Movies will be screened on weekends and public holidays. During the week the facility will be a vibrant artistic centre,” she said.

“The three new multi-function auditoria will be suitable for cinema and live performance and will be accessible via the original Heritage-listed foyer to preserve a vital link between the old and the new Regent,” the Premier continued.

“Our focus now really is to try and save the showcase and the bar area if we can. But the reality is that the developers have all the approval they need.” Debritz said.

There have been suggestions of alternate plans to refurbish the theatre to contribute to Brisbane’s artistic lifestyle.

Following the bypassing of Brisbane by the tour of the British production of Waiting for Godot in March, some feel that another venue could be beneficial.

“There are a significant number of people who believe that the Regent should be converted back to a multipurpose theatre to supplement what happens at the Lyric Theatre.”

“You’ve got the world premier of a play starring one of Australia‘s best television actors, John Wood and written by David Williamson the most significant Australian playwright of our generation, in a 300 seat theatre.” Debritz said.

In an interview in February with Spencer Howson the Premier, Anna Bligh, acknowledged the cultural significance of the theatre although maintained the demolition of the theatre was necessary, leaving only the façade staircase and foyer.

“The development application already proposes to save the façade, which is really a very remarkable part of Brisbane, but to not include the theatres anymore.”

“I think we need to understand the cultural significance of the Regent is not just it’s beautiful foyer, it is a working theatre …This is one of the earliest parts of what makes us a city and if we can save it I think we should make an effort to do so,” the Premier said.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I sit here sitting in the stillness of an almost empty house listening to the dulcet grooves of Cafe Del Mar. The pleasant sea of sound pouring out of my laptop speakers soothes, if only figuratively speaking, my aching body. I only moments ago finished a conversation with a dear friend 'L' about the insanity going on in the world today... volcanics and shaking earth aside.

We worry incessantly about what is in store for us, we almost always forget to have a good time. This is a tragedy. L's issues have the potential to impact on her future, meanwhile I have only just realised the importance of taking better care of myself.

Like all of my friends, L is brilliant in her own right and will excel in anything she chooses. The only thing is... she, like the rest of us, isn't living for herself most of the time. As hard as we all try to get what we want in life, there is always something else that requires our attention, our energy and a small piece of ourselves. It is because of this that our minds develop a way of holding us back. Ergo, our predisposition to overthink.

For all intensive purposes I have a pretty full plate, I work too much (according to my family and friends), I want to do well at my studies (contrary popular belief, yes, this is true), and other family commitments. Anyone would say that's fair enough and I tend to agree. The only thing is, the drawback, the completely obvious truth is... I/we can't do EVERYTHING. As hard as we may try.

This little coin-dropped while I was at my sister's casa. Parked in one of those fold-up picnic chair contraptions, I was surrounded by doting mothers, newlyweds, not-so-newly-weds, and a smattering of bouncing bubs that chewed anything within reach. I was at the mother of all domesticated gatherings. I was at a Tupperware party. I know.

I sat there thinking about the myriad of things that I could have been doing at that moment. My magazine ideas about my friend's charity event, my assignments for class due this week, my laundry, the fact that I need to repaint my nails and my next paycheck.

I watched with a mild thunderstorm in my skull while clipboards and glorified lunch boxes were passed around for order. At that precise moment one thing popped into my head, the signage plastered on the walls at work. The faux fifties propaganda that we have, pictures of women in swingin' attire promoting that "real" women stay home and cook for their husbands while looking utterly fabulous.

While this isn't the visage that unfolded before me, I felt as though I had landed on an alien planet. All of it seemed so foreign to me. I could not fathom the excitement these women had, nor do I think I had anything in common with any of them. So I asked myself what do I really have to talk about with these people. The answer. Not alot. The truth is I was there for my sister.

I couldn't comprehend the motivations of a bunch of women to sit around and talk about babies, weddings, shoes and plastic-ware. Perhaps I am the alien. Is it possible that my brain is wired the wrong way? Why do I have no interest in preserving my sandwiches till the end of days?Why do I not have any interest in settling down with a stranger and producing a mess of children? I asked myself out of boredom, or it was the fact I didn't even really know any of the women there apart from a handful, including my sisters.

The thought occurred to me that mayhaps this social practice was a momentary vacation from their own lives. Work, rest, play, relationship issues and paying bills. I wouldn't know, my idea of such an evacuation from real life is a concert venue with monster speakers, a rad band and good people to keep me company when the show's over.

It wasn't long before the blacksmith residing in my cranium started banging away more and more aggressively. I observed silently, like a researcher watching an endangered species of something-or-other the social ritual for what it was.

It was just a gathering of folks who didn't want to be nothing on a Sunday afternoon, folks that wanted to be around friendly faces and imbibe a little happy juice. The Tupperware was just an excuse. Everything else was merely my mind needlessly over analyzing something so simple.

The passed few weeks or so have taken their toll on my brain, my bones and most assuredly my sanity. Just ask the dear Dr Iz and the vials of my blood he's got tucked away in a pathology lab somewhere. Test results came back - I'm fine, if only a little exhausted. Needless to say I didn't stay at the domestic convention long.

And so web-children I leave you with this, what is your mind telling you that's standing in the way of everything else? what is keeping you from all the possibility that your life holds? For me, the only thing standing in my way is myself, although I am working on it. What's your excuse and what can you do to fix it?

yours in thought and contemplation,

- c

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Still Waiting...

As previously mentioned I was to take a trip to see my doctor due to a minor vacation from consciousness. It all seems a little out of sorts in my mind, personally I think the cause was exhaustion or even just stress. Despite my opinion the insistence of my family was not to be rebuffed. So because I'm not nearly qualified enough to make any kind of medical argument at all. Dr Iz said I had to donate blood to a centrifuge and other bloody analytical doodads . It's a good thing that I enjoy needles.

So in the spirit of my bloodletting I've decided that Gotye's Drawing Blood would be the most appropriate listening material for the evening.

Needless to say I spent the empty time sitting in a room watching the seconds tick away surrounded by people probably far sicker than I. At least till Dr Iz was ready to see me. The waiting room/lounge which was a chaotically organised collection of couches polka-dotted with children, postal workers, housewives and suits. They all sat together but not "together", if that makes any kind of sense. I thought it was sort of funny in a way.

I sat there not-so-aimlessly watching the unknown sickly and observed with my strained un-spectacled vision the intriguing effect a young woman had on the room. Well more to the point her tattoo.

In a delicate cursive script swirled on the back of her thigh "Sweet, but Never Innocent". It wasn't so much the calligraphy or even the location of said inscription, risqué as it was, but rather the word choice that caught my interest.

What would possess a person to willingly renounce that they had any innocence at all? Never, really? Is there something so wrong about being innocent? Some people actually wish for their lost naivety and childlike curiosity to return. It seems odd to me that anyone would want to do that let alone want it tattooed on their body.

That was just an interesting thought, I just thought I'd share. So now in the middle of night I've stopped waiting and I can just... be.

Goodnight and sweetest of dreams...