Not as well known as David Williamson, Alex Buzo was nonetheless an important part of the renaissance of Australian drama in the 1970s. He died yesterday at the age of 62.
The first of his plays that I saw was Coralie Lansdowne Says No at the old Belvoir Street Theatre in the early seventies; no, come to think of it, I think it was at the Belvoir’s precursor, the Nimrod in Kings Cross. A good funny play it is too. Subsequently I met Buzo while I was acting in the Balmain Theatre Group’s production of his The Roy Murphy Show in which I played Clarrie Maloney, a Rugby League commentator loosely based on the legendary Frank Hyde. Yes, it was not type-casting, and I had to spray my hair grey in those days. 😉 Apparently I did it rather well, because when I met Buzo again in the early eighties he addressed me as “Clarrie”!
I also took an entire Wollongong Year 12 class to the entire production process from casting to performance of Coralie Lansdowne Says No at Balmain in 1979, in which I would also have been acting had I not returned in the meantime to Wollongong. We drove up to Sydney once every two or three weeks during the rehearsal process and saw the production through all its stages; we also went to the first night and the party afterwards where the class met Buzo, who was particularly impressed by “Carcase”, the class reprobate, who engaged him in intelligent conversation on the nature of dramatic language. Good memories.
And on the mortality of my generation, I discovered at The Mine yesterday that Patricia O’Brien, a member of the English Department, died of cancer during the last holidays.