Monday, June 28, 2010

Paper Lady in a Red Dress

This is a very special memento from my old life as a professional vocalist in Darwin.

In 2001 and 2002 I was studying voice as part of a Bachelor of Music at the now Charles Darwin University (it was called the Northern Territory University back then). I was attempting to finish this extra degree for which I would get a lot of exemptions, the main challenge was completing the musical performance units which would take 3 years part-time.  The main reason I was doing this was because I had a highly desirable job at the Northern Territory Music School as a vocal and choir teacher, something that was coveted by other teachers and I was exceptionally lucky to have. So the pressure was on me to prove myself and that I deserved my place there.

It was during this time that I did some unpaid performance work, where prior to that I had always been paid. My voice lecturer was a wonderful lady called Kathy Banks, she was absolutely amazing and lovely. So of course, when she asked me if I was available for a Gilbert and Sullivan production she was directing I accepted! It was a showcase of excerpts from Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, I would play the part of Peep-bo, one of the three little maids in the Mikado excerpt. It was so much fun. I was glad I made it clear I didn't want the lead so I was able to enjoy it and lend comfort to the other performers, as many of them had not performed before a large audience before. This was held in the Darwin Entertainment Centre, and I'm not sure how big the audience was maybe several hundred or more. This paper lady in a red dress was given to me as a thank you gift, and it is such a special memento for me to cherish now I no longer do that kind of work.

Of course, I don't perform any more so this is a mere memory from my past. It's so very special for me that I still have this, after so much else I have lost. It is a memory of a fun event during a very hard time for me. I was in the process of leaving my husband, and by mid-2003 a colleague had committed suicide so my world pretty much fell apart from that point and I didn't finish the third year performance units.  I didn't show up for my mid third year exam as it was a week after that terrible event, then I pulled out of the rest of third year altogether and left Darwin for good 12 months later. At least I had successfully finished my end of second year exam with a very difficult 50 minute performance. It was opera and included pieces in Italian and German as well as English, it was the hardest performance I've ever done. I have never rehearsed so much for anything in my life, rehearsing once or twice every single day for over 2 months so ended up doing very well. I was determined not to make a fool of myself and just had to grit my teeth and do it, it was very hard. I did all this while I was secretly planning to leave my husband without him knowing as I was scared for my safety, rehearsing at home everyday while still living with him. No one I know now came to see my exam, my family was busy, and there is no video of it which is a real shame but at least I can remember it.

Looking back I can't believe how I possibly got through that time in my life as well as I did, despite it being one big mess. But special memories like Kathy Banks and these performances remind me I am probably stronger than I think I am! Thanks to Kathy and the kind people that I knew back then I someone how got through a terrible period of my life. <3 <3 <3


  1. Kudos to you for making it through such a sad and stressful time in your life. May you journey into your future with nothing but happy thoughts of good memories yet to be made and treasure the miniature Mikado as I'm sure you will do. xx


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