John Rickard

John Rickard

John Rickard is the author of Australia: A Cultural History (2017). In his youth he worked as an actor and singer.

John Rickard reviews 'Of Labour and Liberty: Distributism in Victoria 1891–1966' by Race Mathews

June-July 2017, no. 392 30 May 2017
John Rickard reviews 'Of Labour and Liberty: Distributism in Victoria 1891–1966' by Race Mathews
I was a student at Sydney University when, in 1954, the embattled Labor leader Dr H.V. Evatt went public, accusing a small group of Labor MPs of disloyalty, their attempt to gain control of the party being directed from a source outside the labour movement. He identified the Melbourne News Weekly as their mouthpiece. Few had heard of B.A. (‘Bob’) Santamaria, who ran News Weekly, but his name n ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Divas: Mathilde Marchesi and her pupils' by Roger Neill

January–February 2017, no. 388 20 December 2016
John Rickard reviews 'Divas: Mathilde Marchesi and her pupils' by Roger Neill
Finding the right teacher is always a challenge for young singers, and the relationship between student and teacher can see the formation of a lifelong bond. By the same token, when there is a falling-out there may be a legacy of hurt or bitterness. Mathilde Marchesi, the subject of Divas, was in her eighties, with more than fifty years of teaching behind her, when the New Zealand born Frances Ald ... (read more)

'On John Foster' by John Rickard

May 2016, no. 381 26 April 2016
When Take Me to Paris, Johnny was first published in 1993, the AIDS crisis seemed to be at its worst. Many of us had friends and acquaintances who were dying. One began to notice men who, thin and haggard, one feared were suffering from AIDS (women victims being relatively few in number). There was no sign of the drug therapies that would, towards the end of the decade, begin to transform the trea ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Hector' by Rozzi Bazzani

January-February 2016, no. 378 22 December 2015
John Rickard reviews 'Hector' by Rozzi Bazzani
Hector Crawford is a unique figure in the history of Australian radio and television. The Australian Dictionary of Biography article (also by the author of this book) describes him as 'television producer, media lobbyist and musician', to which could be added radio producer, showman, and entrepreneur. Above all, he was a persistent and canny advocate of Australian content at a time when the infant ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Why Acting Matters' by David Thomson and 'Great Shakespeare Actors' by Stanley Wells

August 2015, no. 373 30 July 2015
John Rickard reviews 'Why Acting Matters' by David Thomson and 'Great Shakespeare Actors' by Stanley Wells
Why Acting Matters has on its cover the face of an ape; well, actually it’s Andy Serkis playing Caesar, ‘the top ape’ in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). The point of this rather unexpected image from a movie not discussed in the book is, the blurb tells us, that ‘acting is baked into our primate DNA’. These two books, however, by elder statesmen in their respective fields, are con ... (read more)

Cabbages and peas

November 2013, no. 356 31 October 2013
Cabbages and peas
Many years ago, when I was struggling to make a living as an actor–singer in England, I spent six months in the chorus at the London Palladium, in a show breezily titled Let Yourself Go, whose star was former Goon Harry Secombe. It was hard work: two performances nightly, plus a matinee on Saturday. Years later, I realised that this demanding regimen was inherited from the days of music hall, wh ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'A Wild History: Life and death on the Victoria River frontier' by Darrell Lewis

September 2012, no. 344 28 August 2012
John Rickard reviews 'A Wild History: Life and death on the Victoria River frontier' by Darrell Lewis
Darrell Lewis first encountered the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory in 1971 when he worked as a field assistant for the Bureau of Mineral Resources. ‘There was an aura about the country which fired my imagination,’ he writes. Since then, as an historian and archaeologist, he has become an authority on the Victoria River District, the land, its history, and its rock art. Now a ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Race and the Modern Exotic: Three "Australian" women on global display' by Angela Woollacott

April 2012, no. 340 01 April 2012
John Rickard reviews 'Race and the Modern Exotic: Three "Australian" women on global display' by Angela Woollacott
Annette Kellerman, described by Angela Woollacott as ‘swimmer, diver, vaudeville performer, lecturer, writer and a silent-film star’, has been rediscovered in recent years. In 1994 Sydney’s Marrickville Council renamed its Enmore Park Swimming Pool, upgrading it from a humble pool to the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, in honour of the international celebrity, who briefly lived in the neig ... (read more)

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll | Melbourne Theatre Company

March 2012, no. 339 01 March 2012
I first saw Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in 1957 in London, of all places. I remember feeling some pride in seeing the symbolic kewpie doll presiding over the New Theatre in the heart of the West End. June Jago’s performance as Olive has stayed with me over the years; Philip Hope-Wallace, the Guardian reviewer, described her as ‘all chin and elbows, but as genuine a dramatic actress as you c ... (read more)
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