Neill-Fraser’s murder case subject of new Tasmanian play

Updated October 17, 2017 15:53:45

A play focused on one of Tasmania’s most divisive criminal cases is set to open just one week before a long-awaited “last chance” appeal begins in court.

The Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production An Inconvenient Woman makes its debut on October 24, with a sold-out opening show.

The production centres on the case of Sue Neill-Fraser, who is serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of the murder of her de facto partner Bob Chappell, 65, who went missing from the couple’s yacht Four Winds on Australia Day in 2009.

Mr Chappell’s body was never found.

The case sharply divided Hobart public opinion over Neill-Fraser’s guilt or otherwise.

“An Inconvenient Woman does not make any judgment about Susan Neill-Fraser’s guilt or innocence, but asks probing questions about a judicial system under the spotlight,” the play’s promotional material reads.

“With no body, no forensic evidence connecting the accused and no clear motive presented, the case has divided the public and raised much conjecture in and outside the courtrooms of Tasmania and beyond.”

The play, written by Brian Peddie, has been bankrolled by Canberra lawyer Mark Blumer.

“The legal process is a fragile thing, we think of it as a pillar of society but it’s not made of stone — it’s made of people,” Mr Blumer said.

“It has so much power to affect people’s lives.”

Anne Cordiner said playing Neill-Fraser is a big responsibility and she has had a mixed reaction from friends and family about the production.

“I suppose like any cross-section of the community, some friends say ‘how could you do it?’, others say ‘wow’,” she said.

While Ms Cordiner now calls Hobart home she is not from Tasmania originally, and said she was surprised by the amount of community engagement with Neill-Fraser’s case.

“People really have very strong views,” she said.

Play director Aiden Fennessy said it was broadly about the psychological ramifications of the judicial system.

“It is just a timely reminder that there are people at the centre of these narratives, that don’t affect everyone’s lives but kind of form the day-to-day scuttlebutt of gossip news and tabloid stories,” he said.

“They’re very easy stories to sell.”

Neill-Fraser’s appeal begins on October 30.

More on the Sue Neill-Fraser case

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, crime, law-crime-and-justice, arts-and-entertainment, sandy-bay-7005

First posted October 17, 2017 15:38:23

Is it time to get rid of your CD collection?

Posted October 17, 2017 05:53:20

Greg Cooper was going through a marriage break-up the day he decided to sell his CDs.

The 1,000-piece collection had been two decades in the making. But seeing it there, filling a shelf almost as tall as him, he decided it was time to be “cut-throat”. Everything must go.

“I was pretty exhausted, mentally and physically, packing up an entire house, and had had a few wines and wrote this quite heart-felt eBay listing that went through my life, really, through the CD collection.”

There was the more mainstream Green Day and Foo Fighters — “stuff you listen to when you are 13 in 1996” — all the way through to the rare punk and hip-hop of his 20s and 30s.

“It was kind of quite cathartic, actually, and made me feel a lot better about letting go of the past,” Mr Cooper, 35, said.

Pretty soon, he was loading a bundle of 800 compact discs into a stranger’s car, $1,050 richer.

“It was quite a weird experience.”

The question of what to do with your CD collection — throw out, sell, store for posterity — is one music fans everywhere are having to consider.

CD players are becoming rarer in homes and cars, as the take-up of streaming continues to surge.

But like we did with the recent vinyl revival, will we come to regret getting rid of our CDs — and everything they say about us?

‘I’ve kept them because I’m not sure if I want to part with them’

Francesca Von Schreibern has spent 12 years building a collection — mostly New Zealand dub, reggae and hip hop, plus some 70s rock and (she’s embarrassed to admit) a little bit of pop.

For the past four years, that collection has been boxed up, gathering dust. She no longer owns a CD player.

“Records, there’s something romantic about them,” Ms Von Schreibern, 41, who lives in Sydney, said. “A CD just doesn’t have that same quality.”

She placed an advertisement on Facebook — “Time To Get Rid Of My CDs!” — but has so far had no interest.

While she’s keen to clear some space, she admits to a pang of wistfulness about actually doing the deed.

“I’ve kept them in boxes for years, so I haven’t touched them,” she said.

“I’ve kept them because I’m not sure if I want to part with them. I’m just a bit unsure if I am ready.”

For every seller, there must be a buyer

Not everyone is getting rid of their CDs.

Scott Thurling, a longtime music fan in his early 40s, started collecting through record clubs in high school.

The growth of his collection — about 10,000 titles, mostly guitar pop, folk and new wave — has slowed in recent years, but continues, mostly as he takes on the stuff his friends want to get rid of.

“I might offer them a nominal amount, it might be $100 for 100 CDs, or 200 CDs,” Mr Thurling said.

“No-one has high expectations of a high dollar value from the collections I’ve bought. It’s just finding a good home for them.”

Though he does subscribe to Spotify and Apple Music, he admits he doesn’t easily let go of a lot of “music-related things”. The walls of his home, in the Melbourne suburb of Mitcham, feature gig posters taken from pubs over the years. And he’s got his old CD Walkman, though he doesn’t use it much anymore.

“There may be a stage where I bring myself to purge some of the CDs, knowing that they are living on digitally if I needed to hear them again,” he said. “But we are not at that stage yet.”

If he doesn’t, his nine-year-old daughter might.

“She looks with bemusement at my collection. I keep saying ‘you are going to own these one day’ and she says ‘I am selling them Dad, as soon as you are gone’.”

‘The CD is not a beautiful looking thing’

Mr Cooper, for his part, doesn’t think he’s going to miss his collection — and doubts that, like vinyl, the CD will come roaring back into the popular consciousness.

“The dual cases are ugly as hell, they break, they get all scratched up,” he said. “The CD is not a beautiful looking thing.

“The artwork on some of them is great but it’s like 10cm by 10cm. It’s not something you want to put on your wall and admire.”

If he’s ever feeling nostalgic, he said, he just searches YouTube or Spotify.

Topics: music, arts-and-entertainment, popular-culture, australia

Woody Allen warns against ‘witch hunt’ after Harvey Weinstein revelations

Posted October 16, 2017 12:18:13

Comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen says he feels “sad” for the those caught up in the Harvey Weinstein controversy but has warned against creating a “witch hunt atmosphere” targeting men in the workplace.

In an interview with the BBC, Allen said he hopes the revelations lead to “some amelioration” for those involved but said there are ultimately “no winners” in the scandal.

“You … don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself. That’s not right either,” he said.

Weinstein has been accused by several actresses and models of harassment and “abuse of power” after a New York Times investigation revealed allegations of sexual misconduct spanning over three decades.

But Allen, who worked with Weinstein on several films throughout the 1990s, said he had never heard any serious allegations of rape or assault against Weinstein.

“No-one ever came to me or told me horror stories with any real seriousness,” Allen said.

“And they wouldn’t, because you are not interested in it. You are interested in making your movie.

“But you do hear a million fanciful rumours all the time. And some turn out to be true and some — many — are just stories about this actress, or that actor.”

Since the Weinstein story broke more investigations have been published, including one by Allen’s estranged son Ronan Farrow, who spoke to multiple women who said they faced inappropriate encounters with the Hollywood executive.

“In the course of a 10-month investigation, I was told by 13 women that, between the 1990s and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them,” Farrow wrote in the New Yorker last week.

Allen feels sad for Weinstein’s ‘messed up’ life

Allen himself has faced accusations of sexual assault and paedophilia.

In 2014 his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was seven years old.

“For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like,” she wrote in the New York Times.

Weinstein has been credited with helping Allen’s career recover after the allegations first emerged in the early 1990s, making deals to distribute some of his movies at a time the director was reportedly “shunned” by the industry.

“Shunned by Hollywood means nothing to Miramax. We’re talking about a comic genius,” Weinstein told the LA Times in 1994.

“Chaplin was shunned by Hollywood; so were a great many other international filmmakers, including Fellini — and those are the people who belong with Miramax.”

Since the New York Times story was published Weinstein has been fired as co-chairman of the Weinstein Company which he co-founded, expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, and left by his wife Georgina Chapman.

“The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved,” Allen said.

“[It is] tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that [his] life is so messed up.

“There’s no winners in that, it’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that.”

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, sexual-offences, arts-and-entertainment, film-movies, united-states

Pokemon card game a ticket to the world for Hobart ‘professors’

Posted October 16, 2017 07:23:42

Sam Winburn and Ashley Kendall would be the envy of anyone who ever wanted to “go pro” in their childhood hobby.

The Tasmanians are both certified, high-level judges in the international Pokemon trading card game, and they have been paid to fly around the world to adjudicate huge competitions.

Mr Winburn estimated he and his friend were two of about half a dozen people in Australia who are qualified “Pokemon Professors”.

“I’ve judged nine national championships, and this year I’ve had the opportunity to judge three international championships — two so far and I’m off to a third one next month,” he said.

That competition, the Pokemon Europe International Championships, will feature hundreds of players and include a combined prize pool of up to $250,000.

The Japanese animation — focused on a group of fantasy creatures — has been through many iterations since it first appeared as video game in 1996.

It has spawned a cartoon series and, more recently, the flash-in-the-pan smartphone phenomenon Pokemon GO.

The most low-tech option is the trading card game where players collect cards featuring different Pokemon and then “battle” them against each other.

Both Mr Winburn and Mr Kendall had to take a written test to become Professor-level judges of the game.

“You need a knowledge of the rules. You need a good disposition to be able to work with other people, work through conflict — you need to mediate between players when they’ve got a disagreement,” Mr Kendall said.

Living the Pokemon dream

Earlier this year the pair travelled to the United States to judge.

Mr Winburn, who will be off to the UK in a few weeks, is living the dream for someone who has loved Pokemon since they were a kid.

“When I got to about 15 or 16 I thought, ‘I’d love to learn how to play with these cards properly — not just my Charizard beats your basic Pikachu — because its big and powerful,” he said.

Next year he plans to judge at a big competition interstate and hopefully travel to North America again.

“If I’m really lucky and I work really hard I might well make the World Championships to judge in August next year,” he said

Pokemon GO spawned card revival

Mr Kendall and co-owner Emma Pinferi run Pokemon trading games out of their games shop just south of Hobart.

They have created a small community of fellow enthusiasts.

“Pokemon GO has really revitalised the game,” Mr Mr Kendall said.

“There’s so many more people playing now — people who used to play it back when they were a kid are like, ‘Yes, I remember this; this is great’.

“Then they’re really excited to find that, hey, it’s still going on.

“You just see the passion people had as kids just transforming them as adults.

“I’ve seen entire family generations playing together — people who played as kids playing with their own kids.”

Topics: games, kids-games-and-links, board-and-card-games, games-on-the-web, arts-and-entertainment, hobart-7000, tas

London police receive new assault claims against Harvey Weinstein

Posted October 16, 2017 06:01:00

British police are investigating three new allegations of sexual assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein, all made by the same woman.

London’s Metropolitan Police force said on Sunday that the woman reported being assaulted in London in 2010, 2011 and 2015.

The force said officers from its Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command are investigating.

The woman’s name has not been made public. The force also did not name Weinstein, in keeping with its policy of not identifying suspects who have not been charged.

But it said the allegations involve a man against whom another accusation was made on Wednesday.

That alleged assault, reported to have taken place in west London during the late 1980s, is also being investigated.

British actress Lysette Anthony says she reported to police on Wednesday that Weinstein raped her in her west London home in the late 1980s.

Anthony, 54, who appears on the British soap opera Hollyoaks, told the Sunday Times newspaper that Weinstein raped her in the late 1980s after showing up at her London home.

She said she was left feeling “disgusted and embarrassed” after the attack.

“It was pathetic, revolting,” she was quoted as saying in a Thursday interview.

“I remember lying in the bath later and crying.”

Dozens of women have made allegations of sexual harassment and assault against the movie mogul in recent days, some dating back decades.

Weinstein denies non-consensual sexual activity.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took the almost unprecedented step over the weekend of revoking Weinstein’s membership.

It said it did so “to send a message that the era of wilful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behaviour and workplace harassment in our industry is over”.

Weinstein, who backed many British movies including Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech, has also been suspended by the British film academy.


Topics: film-movies, arts-and-entertainment, sexual-offences, law-crime-and-justice, police, united-kingdom, united-states

Lust in the Dust: Aussie rural romance authors romp on

Posted October 14, 2017 14:00:10

It is a genre cheekily referred to as “RuRo” or “Lust in the Dust” by those in the publishing industry, and, more than 10 years after being pioneered by author Rachel Treasure, sales of rural romance books show no signs of slowing down.

Tales of love and fortunes lost and found in rural regions and the outback continue to strike a chord amongst Aussie readers, keen to escape city life for the broad landscapes and slower pace between the pages.

Freelance editor and publishing consultant Louise Thurtell was one of the first publishers in Australia to recognise the potential of RuRo and subsequently established a pitch system for Allen & Unwin, a way for writers to email through parts of their manuscript.

“Growing up on a farm just outside Orange, I knew that a lot of people in the country didn’t have access to publishers or agents, and publishing can be very intimidating, so I just wanted to find more stories by regional and rural writers,” she said.

“I knew that there was a real thirst for stories about both outback and rural Australia.”

The move unearthed several bestselling RuRo authors from our country towns.

‘I took on Fleur McDonald from Esperance in WA through Friday Pitch, and her books continue to be bestsellers, as well as Karly Lane from Macksville, and Nicole Hurley-Moore in Castlemaine,” she said.

“I think there’s always been a legend about the inland and the outback, and with most of us living on the coast in Australia, people seem to be interested in a way of life that’s completely different to theirs.”

It is an interest that also extends beyond our shores, with Germany and America publishing some of our outback tales.

“I’ve heard a rumour that in Germany they’re getting German writers to pen these outback sagas,” she said.

“I don’t know if that’s true, but I think you need to have experienced what it’s like to go through drought, to go through crop failures and so on, and most of the Australian rural romance writers have that country background.”

It’s no crime to write about farm life

The Dry by Jane Harper, a crime novel set in a farming community, has been a publishing phenomenon and is being made into a movie after selling more than 64,000 copies.

Harper’s most recent novel, Force of Nature, sold just under 9,000 copies in its first week.

From barns to backyards, regionally-based Aussie authors are also championing their hometowns and way of life in fiction.

Much-loved writer Tim Winton has almost always written books set in country towns, whilst Sarah Bailey’s mystery novel, The Dark Lake, is also based in a regional centre.

Anglesea author Mark Smith writes young-adult novels set around Victoria’s surf coast, and believes it is important that kids who live in our smaller towns can see themselves represented in books.

“You know there are kids out there doing exactly the same thing that the main character in my novels is doing … they’re riding bikes, they’re bushwalking and riding horses, and I think they deserve to be represented in fiction,” he said.

Watch Landline on Sunday at noon on ABC TV.

Topics: books-literature, arts-and-entertainment, rural, australia

Challenging the NT’s Crocodile Dundee stereotype one story at a time

Posted October 14, 2017 08:02:19

Everyone has a story to tell — but in a tweeting era where 140 characters is the limit — is spinning a good yarn becoming a dying art?

Darwin creative producer Johanna Bell is on a mission to ensure that it isn’t.

She is leading the way by unearthing and promoting local storytelling in the Northern Territory.

Women’s Work

We all know her — the busy woman who finds time for more. We’re celebrating the extraordinary voluntary work, done by ordinary women, in the ABC’s new series Women’s Work.

“What I’m really interested in is uncovering untold stories. Indigenous storytellers, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people who’ve been in the Territory for different lengths of time,” she says.

“In Australia it’s really easy to find middle-aged white blokes that want to tell stories, they’re everywhere.

“I wanted locals to have a chance to tell their stories, in their way, and sometimes that way is pretty unique.”

Re-imagining the Territory

In 2015, Johanna saw a gap in the kind of stories Australians were hearing and decided to start an event called Spun — a live storytelling night showcasing people from the NT.

“It’s critical that a Spun event includes diversity because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to challenge the Crocodile Dundee stereotype of the Territory,” she says.

“I think it’s pretty hard to not listen to somebody who has the courage to stand up and reveal themselves.”

Johanna and her team of producers have now nurtured dozens of people from a wide range of backgrounds to pick up the microphone and share their tales with a live audience.

Spun has become a regular community event.

At the most recent Spun, John Price told his story about being a foster carer in Darwin.

“Johanna has just been fantastic, from the moment we met to talk about the story she’s kept things light-hearted. She’s helped me feel very much at ease to get that storytelling out,” he says.

Next generation storytellers

Aside from Spun, Johanna works in the community running writing and storytelling workshops with school children from diverse backgrounds, as well as programs for residents of regional NT towns.

Her latest workshop has been with Year 5 and 6 students at Malak Primary School in Darwin’s northern suburbs, where she has helped children illustrate and write picture books about local animals.

Johanna’s well qualified to inspire her students, having just received a Children’s Book Council Award for Go Home Cheeky Animals, her second book collaboration with Tennant Creek illustrator Dion Beasleyn, who is profoundly deaf and confined to a wheelchair.

Together they have created educational and fun picture books with a sense of place for Indigenous children.

“One of the reasons I like working with children and young people is that it’s an opportunity to get to them early, help shape their ideas and show that everybody’s story counts,” she says.

“If we don’t invest in them now, if we don’t help them develop the courage to take risks, then it might be a pretty sad and boring place in a decade’s time.”

Disclosure: Johanna Bell is the partner of an ABC employee. He played no role in nominating Johanna to feature in this series.

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, author, books-literature, darwin-0800