HMS Pinafore - On the Set

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Noel Coward in Two Keys

Set in the mid -1960s, this Coward work is really a pair of one-act plays “Come into the Garden, Maud” and “A Song at Twilight”.  The action of both takes place in the sitting room of a private suite in a fine, old Swiss hotel. An ‘outsider’ causes uncomfortable and previously unnamed truths to be dealt with.

When the show played in New York’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1974, the cast included Jessica Tandy, Thom Christopher, Hume Cronyn, and Anne Baxter.


Come into the Garden, Maud
Anna Mary Conklin
Wealthy American matron, late 40s or early 50s
Verner Conklin
Her husband, also wealthy, fit, late 50s
Maud Caragnani
Attractive, mid - 40s, has a style of her own
Waiter, young, good looking

A Song at Twilight
Hilde Latymer
Early 50s, German, married to Sir Hugo for 20 years
Sir Hugo Latymer
Elegant, author of considerable eminence, late 60s—early 70s
Carlotta Gray
Attractive former actor, late 40s - early 50s
Waiter, young, good looking

Note: The role of Felix will be cross cast. The remaining three roles in each play will either all be cross cast or none of them will be.

ACT (a community theatre) will stage this pair of one-act plays at the Rodd Charlottetown, in the Provinces Room, March 2/3, 9 -11. The director will be Brenda Porter and the producer, Gerry Gray. The production will also feature dessert, coffee and ‘meet the cast’ following the show.

For audion information, please go to

Posted by webmaster on 10/29 at 02:31 PM
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

South Pacific Soap Opera

Here beginneth the second book of the Solomon chronicles.

A month ago we were at a CUSO beach picnic � including reef snorkelling and a table groaning with Solomon Island feast foods � to say goodbye to three CUSO colleagues who were heading for home (In SI talk, we �farewelled them�). There are now only two CUSO couples in the country � the other pair is on a remote nature-preserve island.

But last week, for Canadian Thanksgiving � on Sunday, since for some reason SI didn�t give us a holiday Monday � we did manage to round up 10 Canadians living in Honiara, and we had a delightful time, even without a turkey. A few days later we got a dandy packet from our daughter Meg: my mother�s recipe for pumpkin pie, with little bags of the necessary spices!

Mid-September was a busy time for LASI, our literacy association, because we put on an Annual General Meeting plus 2 � days of workshops for the two dozen field coordinators who (supposedly) oversee classes in scores of villages throughout the islands. [Actually, by sending out visiting coordinators during July and August, we discovered that only about a quarter of the classes which once operated are still active.] Our gathering got people excited and everyone believes a new era has dawned � except we two realist/cynics! The essential fact is that for us to serve our purpose � not only getting the organization back on its feet but also doing �capacity-building� and �skills transfer� (common jargon in development work) to ensure that it is sustainable � we would need to have someone whose management capacity could be built ... and we don�t have that.

The past month has been a very tense time in Honiara, because of politics and crime. A central fact is that Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has wanted to show that he can stand up to Australia. Australia rescued SI from civil war in 2003, provides 90% of the military and police presence which maintains the peace, and has pumped AUS$800 million into the effort to rebuild this country. But Australians are often seen as bullies here; they are sort of the Americans of the South Pacific. Relations started to go sour because of differing visions of a commission of inquiry which was supposed to analyse the April riots. Jockeying by the Australian High Commissioner provoked the PM to send him home � an almost unheard-of insult. Australia retaliated by cancelling the automatic entry system for SI politicians: they must now apply for a visa every time they want to enter Australia � whether for shopping, medical care, or even just transit. Relations deteriorated, and have plummeted as the Julian Moti soap-opera developed.

Soap opera? Well, it may tax your patience, but the near-comic absurdity is worth your effort, I think. The PM fired the Attorney-General because the A-G opposed two terms of reference for the commission of inquiry � their obvious aim was to undercut the police and justice systems, trying to show that those police and judges and prosecutors had persecuted the two MPs who were jailed for inciting the riots (the two crooks whom the PM appointed as cabinet ministers after they were jailed ... one as Minister of Police and Security!). For his new A-G, Mr. Sogavare chose Julian Moti, a lawyer who is Indo-Fijian who holds Australian citizenship (i.e. not a SIslander). Mr. Moti has an interesting background. It looks like he bought a QC; he gave advice a few years ago which resulted in SI having two Prime Ministers for a few days; he had an out-of-court settlement at the end of the 90s in a case of the rape of a 13-year-old in Vanuatu. There was universal outcry against this appointment, and we think Australia and some others saw it as part of a plot to cancel the charges against the two jailed MPs. Now here�s where the fun really starts. Our pal Julian was in transit in Papua New Guinea on his way from Singapore to take up his post when he was arrested by the PNG police at the request of Australia, who wants to take him to trial for his 1997 rape charge (using a recent Aus law about sex offences by its citizens abroad). That night Moti jumped bail. He holed up in the Solomons embassy for a week. The public service commission suspended his appointment as A-G, but PM Sogavare continued to maintain he was the A-G. Then one night he was driven with some sort of escort to the Port Moresby airport and put on a PNG army plane, accompanied by the SI PM�s nephew and special assistant, which landed � with no flight plan and no lights � at a remote airfield in the Solomons. But the Australian-led SI police had been tipped off and were waiting. Moti and pals tried to run away into the bush but were caught and brought to Honiara, where he was charged with illegal immigration. He is in jail. The PMs of both SI and PNG have done a dance between claiming innocence versus letting people understand that they cleverly beat Australia�s plans. Our PM accuses Australia of persecuting Moti ... while the SI police (led by Australians) are determined to prosecute � a fine stand-off. The latest: on Wednesday the police arrested the Minister responsible for Immigration on a charge of lying to them about approving Moti�s entry and obstructing their investigation.

The Moti fiasco was one factor in the tension of recent weeks, because it was one basis for a vote of non-confidence in Parliament. I�ll come back to that in a moment, but first I need to tell you about the second dimension of the nervousness in Honiara—an upsurge in crime. This has been, in terms of most cities in the world, a very safe place - a place where people weren’t afraid to go walking, even at night. That changed a few weeks ago. Gangs of young men have done a series of break-ins in some areas, using knives and stones to intimidate security guards ... stealing and breaking things, and in one case raping a woman. And almost all of the victims have been expats. A bunch of the presumed perpetrators have now been arrested. But what makes people more nervous is a sense that this criminal activity is connected in a way with the political situation. One theory is that some group wants to cause instability as a way of intimidating the government; another idea is that the aggressiveness of the gangs is caused by the Prime Minister’s rhetoric and its suggestion that ‘it’s OK to put those bully Australians in their place!’

This latter idea was strongly evident last Wednesday as the non-confidence motion was debated in Parliament. For the ten days leading up to the vote there was rising fear that it would provoke a demonstration and possible outbreak of violence such as happened back in April. As it turned out, the PM readily survived, and that relieved much of the tension ... but the line he took in Parliament, with the nation listening on radio, was a jingoistic appeal to ‘national sovereignty’—translation: an implicit invitation to people to target everything from rudeness to theft against Australians. Meanwhile the Australian foreign minister has been saying that the misgovernment and corruption in some Pacific nations has got to stop, and that there may be no point in sending so much aid to a country that can�t manage itself. The SI PM has answered by saying that he may want to expel RAMSI, the Australian-led (but multi-national) peace-keeping and assistance program � which would most likely send the country back into civil war.

Sorry for that long-winded outline of the atmosphere here. The point is that expats have been on edge for a month; the level of unease has gone down a notch for the present; but the problems have hardly been resolved. Even so, we believe we are safer than we would be in most cities of the world (except Charlottetown, of course!)

The past week, though, was a particularly stressful one, because one of our friends was so stressed. She was ill, and found she couldn�t take the feelings of tension in Honiara, and we came to the conclusion that it was best for her to go home. The good news is that, after a few days with us and a lot of packing-up and arrangements-making with people who were very helpful, she should be successfully arriving home as I write.

Let�s have a major shift of topic ...

We�ve had a few nice social occasions. Example: dinner at the new pool-side bar and restaurant of the Honiara Hotel � which we�ve watched being gradually built for the entire year we�ve been here. Another evening, we had two nice couples here for dinner. We�ve been watching the second season of the TV show �24� � pampering ourselves almost every evening for an hour. Spent some time at the trade show a few weeks back at the Town Ground: mostly food stalls (very little trade and industry), but it had the atmosphere of a Canadian fall fair � the crowds, the yells and smells.

In the on-going beautification of our little valley, two neighbour girls and we went one Sunday morning to a hobby grower of orchids and bought (CDN 1.40 each) cuttings of various kinds. We planted them along a fence which will become a sort of orchid hedge.

Our community theatre group is preparing �Arsenic and Old Lace�. A good thing is that we�re involving a few more Solomon Islanders. Another thing is that we�re introducing some things taken for granted back in PEI � things like having a budget and a publicity plan. Mar�s major recreation is happy work on a new cross-stitch pattern.


- Participants in our LASI workshops complained and wore extra shirts because the room was air-conditioned (we sure have a different idea of what�s cool!)

- Smoke and flickering flames � from cooking fires, burning stumps of chopped trees, and of course burning leaves and rubbish

- History in the making: SolBrew beer is now being sold in tins

- We�d always assumed the size of office paper is standard ... but no, in the Pacific and evidently in Europe, they use A4 size, which is longer and narrower

- The wsk-wsk sound of sweeping with a hand-broom made of bunches of coconut-palm-frond spines tied together with a piece of inner-tube rubber

- Age of high-school students: many are in their 20s, having entered the system late, or because of missed years during the �Tension� civil war

- A developing country, where most people have almost no possessions ... but there are tons of cell-phones in Honiara

- Lilting sounds of a Solomons pipe band wafting up from the gathering-place under the huge rain-trees at the foot of the trail that comes up to our house. A pipe band is not bag-pipes; rather, it is people with bamboo sections ranging in size from a few inches to 4 feet long � played as pan-pipe wind instruments and as percussion, struck with flip-flop sandals

- The horking sound of throats being cleared, and of blowing noses onto the ground ... we will not miss this when we leave

- The edges of the blades on the fans in our house are usually black � from cutting the dirty Honiara air

- Handbills pasted up on shop-fronts, trees, etc. � announcing to �Passengers and cargo bound for eastern Makira� that an unscheduled ship will (probably) sail at a certain time

- Kids �sledding� down a cement-covered slope on the way down our hill � their bums on squashed plastic bottles

In a little more than two weeks, we�re going to take a big holiday. We�ll be in New Zealand! - from Nov 4 till Dec 2. In fact we�ll be spending the first week with my brother and sister-in-law, who are just now starting a holiday with friends. Over the four weeks we expect to cover most of the territory of both South and North Island, starting in Christchurch and finishing in Aukland. So there won�t be any November �SI report�, and we won�t be responding to any communication until early December. So ... farewell for awhile.

Rob & Mar

Posted by RobAdmin on 10/18 at 11:34 PM
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