David Cole: My Top 10...

In "My Top 10..." the Post will ask locals (and some visitors) about a top 10 that means a lot to them... top 10 movies, top 10 songs, top 10 sportspeople.. that sort of thing. We're starting the series with local playwright, David Cole whose third production "Life's a Bitch" has just finished a succesful run at the Lieder Theatre. We're cheating this week because Dave is telling us his top 5 plays, and top 5 books... but it adds up to 10. Please note, while we've linked to several movies, there's no substitute for the original books and plays.

The Three Sisters - Anton Chekov

This could be a play about Goulburn. Three sisters sit around complaining about how bored they are in their provincial lives and how they wish they could move to the city – Moscow. Sometimes the characters speak at each other but no one seems to be listening. One of them (Solyony) just makes chicken ‘clucking’ noises. Other characters, like the dashing Lieutenant Colonel Vershinin wander onto the stage and deliver grand sweeping speeches such as: “Yes we’ll all be forgotten. Such is our fate and we can’t do anything about it.” Then someone picks up a fiddle and they all start dancing. Brilliant!

The Removalists – David Williamson

Even though it was one of his first plays, I think this is still one of Williamson’s best. It is so gritty and raw and violent and the language is so distinctively Australian.

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

I love how everyone dies in the massive stoush at the end. I love the ‘play within the play’ where all of the ‘real’ character’s motives are put on show. This play has everything – love, plotting, assassination, betrayal and ghosts. How can you not love Shakespeare? He is to writing plays what Bradman is to cricket – no one will come close to him – ever!

Inheritance – Hannie Rayson

The Lieder Theatre did a production of this contemporary Australian play about 10 years ago. It is about the passing on of the family farm and the conflicts among siblings that can result. It is an issue that could be very close to home for a lot of people in rural areas like Goulburn and I think this is why the play did so well here. It contains very funny, real and raw Australian dialogue too.

Sylvia – A.R Gurney

This is a funny play about a man’s obsession with his dog. The Lieder also did a great production of this a few years ago. In hindsight, I think this play may have also been the initial inspiration for my own recent play about people and their dogs – Life’s a Bitch.

1984 – George Orwell

Why have I read this book so many times? Is it that Winston Smith is everyman? He is the spark of humanity in a regime that wants everything to be bland and tasteless and controlled, but his eventual capitulation to Big Brother also points out how insidious propaganda and mind control can be. It was Orwell’s great warning to the future.    

The Shipping News - E. Annie Proulx

I read this book shortly after moving back to Goulburn and getting a job as a reporter at the Goulburn Post, which is not unlike the hero of this story, Quoyle. I loved reading how Quoyle asserts himself as a man and a father in this book and how he finds that moving back to the area where his roots are can provide the deep healing that his soul desperately needs at that point in his life. It is as funny as hell too!  

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

A story of bravery, compassion and humanity set amidst Nazi Germany during World War II. Its brilliance lies in the fact that it is narrated by ‘Death’ himself, who mostly complains about busy he is. It focusses on the innocence of a young girl and contrasts how her innocence survives despite those dark times.  It is a very sad book too.  

The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

F.Scott Fitzgerald writes with economy and precision. This great American epic is only really the size of a novella, yet it has everything – a man’s quest for the love of a woman drives him to the heights of success, to prove to her that he is worthy – and when he is within reach of her – his dreams all come crashing down. A marvellous book.  

My Brother Jack - George Jonston

It is the poignant story of two brothers growing up during the interwar period in Melbourne. Jack is the quintessential tough Aussie bloke who his younger brother David looked up to as they were growing up, but the roles are reversed during the course of World War II when David is celebrated as a war correspondent.  This is THE great Australian novel.