Temperamental Sydney

Tracking my travels
Tracking my travels

I left the house reasonably early today, and didn’t get home until about ten-thirty tonight. When I left the house, it was fine and sunny and I was wearing shorts, thongs and a polo-shirt; and when I arrived home, I was still wearing shorts, thongs and a polo-shirt, but Sydney was in the midst of a torrential rain storm.

We don’t cope well with rain storms in Sydney, do we? And this was a particularly heavy, tropical-style rain storm, with thunder and lightning. There was one moment, tonight, standing at Taylor Square when there was a massive bolt of lightning (seemingly not too far away) which literally made me jump and run for cover.

“Big thunderclap and lightning on oxford street. That would have been a dramatic way to go!”, I tweeted at one point tonight, which resulted in a couple of great comments, including “And if it happened to you, you’d know you’d really annoyed someone ‘upstairs’!”; “especially if a church spire came hurtling towards you! Is Fred Nile practising summoning weather for March 2?” and “passed dramatically & quickly over us (obviously on way to you) – oooh! and again! Would be preferred manner of demise.”. “Made it home safely. No threat of Omen II Damien lightning scenes, thank goodness”, I later replied.

Work kept me busy for the first few hours of the day, as I had some things to do around our coverage of the 70th Anniversary of the Bombing Of Darwin. From there it was a bus trip to Bondi Junction to have my dressing done (almost fully healed – yay), and then a bus trip back over to Newtown to see a play at the New Theatre.

The Temperamentals at Sydney's New Theatre
The Temperamentals at Sydney's New Theatre

As part of Mardi Gras, New Theatre is presenting a play called The Temperamentals. A bit like the phrase “A Friend Of Dorothy”, “Temperamental”, apparently, was a euphemism for homosexual. The play documents the founding of the “Mattachine Society”, the first “sustained” gay rights organization in America, years before Stonewall and the gay liberation movements of the 1970s.

Back in the late forties and early fifties it can’t have been easy to be gay in America. As well as all of the usual issues you might expect, you also had McCarthyism. Not only was it difficult for communists, it was also difficult for gays. Harry Hay, one of the lead characters in this true story was both a communist and gay, and later, a “radical faerie” who saw cross-dressing as a political statement.

At the beginning of the play, however, Harry was a married man who was meeting Rudi Gernreich (a refugee from Nazism who was a famous fashion designer) for casual sexual liaisons at a local church. Harry becomes politically motivated, and along with Rudi and two others form The Temperamentals, whose aim is to improve the visibility and “acceptability” of homosexuals. Rudi, by the way, supports the organisation but remains firmly in the closet, thanks, according to the play, to the advice of Judy Garland’s husband, Vincent Minelli (a gay man) that power comes through money and prestige.

The group takes on and wins a court case of one of its member who was caught/entrapped by a police officer. They soon realise, despite the win, it’s not reported in any of the newspapers, and thus it’s a win in name only.

I really enjoyed the play. It hummed along nicely with a compelling narrative, and well-developed, thoughtful characters. I thought the actors were excellent. I’d highly recommend it for both the temperamental and not so temperamental readers of this blog.

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