Monday, 27 October 2014

Vale Don Batchelor.


Don Batchelor passed away last week after a battle with cancer. He was a beautiful man with a mind as big as the Pacific Ocean. Being a writer and theatre director and a little bit anal, Don had written his own funeral service, chosen the poetry and readings, the final song and written his own eulogy. It could have been self indulgent but it was great,

Don's sense of theatre was spot on. The only awkward moments came when his "cast" deviated from his script. The cast included John O'Toole, Rod Wissler, Christine Comans, Judith Bell, Graham Bruce and his brother Ron. Don  generously allowed his brother to write his own account of Don's life - a story full of hardship (Charleville), cheek and surprises (Don was a schoolboy sports hero - football and athletics).  Michael Billinghurst (son of Robby Nason) sang the closing song, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. A confirmed athiest Don might have been surprised at the sound of 120 voices singing the chorus - felt like church just for a moment.

Don had a love of theatre and politics. He was the one who supported me in my time teaching at QUT when I was arguing for a community stream to be included in the Drama course. He was always interested in ideas and in stirring the pot.

As a final ironic twist (conscious or unconscious) Don had chosen St Barnabas Hall at Red Hill for the celebration. Ironic? It was the base for radical theatre company, the Popular Theatre Troupe, for a lengthy period in the 1970s. I chuckled seeing some of the conservative theatre community singing along in this space, the scene of political and community theatre and the 'democratising of theatre' movement. Most had no idea where they were. Errol O'neill and I were perhaps among the few present who had previously seen the inside of this hall.

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