Back to the Classics Challenge: a Classic Play: I am a Camera

This was a quick enjoyable read. The story of the play is a working of Christopher Isherwood’s book The Berlin Stories. In his books and the play, Isherwood is an English writer struggling to survive in Berlin just as Hitler is rising, as Isherwood had. Sally Bowles was based on the real cabaret singer Jean Ross. Christopher and Sally lived in adjacent boarding house rooms. Sally Bowles character was only a character in one of the stories in The Berlin Stories, but became the focus of John Van Druten’s play, along with Christopher Isherwood (Her Issyvoo) himself. The play is published by the Dramatists Play Service Inc., and includes an introduction by John Van Druten which is very interesting. The play was first performed in 1951, with the film starring Julie Harris and Peter Harvey following in 1955.

Cabaret, the movie, a further iteration of the play starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Gray. Sally in the play was a failed singer, with a tragic motif through her life. Sally played by Liza Minnelli was consummately talented, and rises triumphant at the end.

Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. He left Cambridge without graduating, briefly studied medicine and then turned to writing his first novels, All the Conspirators and The Memorial. Between 1929 and 1939 he lived mainly abroad, spending four years in Berlin and writing the novels Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin on which the musical Cabaret was based.

John Van Druten was an English playwright who had moved to the USA by the time he wrote I am a Camera in 1951.

I did enjoy reading this, including it’s format as a play. I look forward to re-watching Cabaret, the movie and also the 1955 film I am a Camera.

The Moonlight State

In May 1987, Four Corners presented Chris Masters’ investigation into Queensland police corruption, which reached all the way up to the Police Commissioner, Terry Lewis. An inquiry was announced the following day, becoming the Fitzgerald Inquiry, resulting in over a hundred covictions, a jail term for the Commissioner, and the end of Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Premiership. Dear Andrew Olley, long since departed from a brain tumour, was the presenter.

Recently, Four Corners presented a programme called Breaking the Brotherhood, which, now, thirty years later, brought to us the whistle blower police and investigators who gave their stories to Chris Masters. It also explored the frightening consequences for those se whistle blowers, at the time, as well as the severe impacts on their subsequent lives.

Four Corners remains part of the essential eternal vigilance.

I received 2 tickets to Joh for PM, the musical for my  birthday from M, R, H, and M, and had J accompanying me. We watched from a front row table…..’glorious fun’ as described by one reviewer…..apparently Mike Ahern, in the audience, now 75, was laughing his head off.

James Dobinson was the one man band….at Stage Right, doing the musical direction and orchestration. Sitting so close to the front it was an added embellishment watching the music production so closely.


The Song List included:

Accidentally (Member for Nanango, then Premier)

Feed the Chooks

We don’t do that nonsense here!

Don’t you worry about that!

Pumpkin scone diplomacy


and finishing with the rousing I will stand, complete with all characters in Maroon t-shirts and calls of “Queenslander”! with the audience responding in unison with an identfying standing ovation.

For more serious review and reflection on this era, Matthew Condon’s books are fascinating…….a review of Queensland politics and corruption through most of my early and young adult life. Condon is a Brisbane based author and journalist. Brother J put me on to these.