Australian of the Year Ita Buttrose didn’t disappoint as special guest at last Friday’s fund-raising dinner for the Katoomba Theatre Company (KTC), treating a full house at the Carrington Hotel with an inspiring Q&A session and playing a part in a play reading.
One of three patrons of the fledgling theatre group formed in mid-2012 by Belle and Larry Buttrose, Ms Buttrose was warmly welcomed by KTC member Penelope Sai who sang Cold Chisel’s hit Ita accompanied by Rowley Holmes on piano.
The Carrington Hotel hosted KTC’s first play reading series last autumn, but by the second half of 2014 the theatre group will be able to present plays in a tailor-made new venue, with council agreeing to convert the old Katoomba library into a multi-purpose 200-seat auditorium rather than a basic hall as originally planned.
Ita Buttrose welcomed the project in her opening address, saying she hoped KTC would “grow into one of the Blue Mountains’ major cultural institutions”.
“I was happy to say yes [to being a KTC patron] because I believe art and culture actively are at the heart of community — they help bring a community to life, encourage creativity and help bring economic productivity,” she said.
After being a good sport by playing the part of a princess in a “Shakespeare dream sketch” concocted by writer Andrew McDonell, alongside KTC members Tiriel Mora and Chris Gabardi, Ms Buttrose was asked what her biggest career challenge was as a woman.
“Where will I start . . . making people understand that a lot of us want it all and if there are enough of us who want it, we should be able to have a go at it.
“I did come up against a few obstacles but I thought, I’ve got the skills to do this.
“When you make a decision to play in the corporate jungle you have to be tough, you have to believe in yourself and have a go, but you should never feel you need to hand in your femininity because if you do that you fail.”
Dr Larry Buttrose said KTC members “are dedicated, they are professional and they are brilliant”.
“Here in Katoomba, in the City of the Arts, we’ve had next to no theatre, but works of theatre speak to communities down the ages and the people of Katoomba are worthy of art and culture.
“We want to bring to this community what other communities take for granted.”
He relayed messages of support from other KTC patrons Jack Thompson and Bruce Beresford.
Belle Buttrose said a theatre for Katoomba was “an idea whose time had come” and particularly thanked Katoomba Chamber of Commerce and Community, Blue Mountains Mayor Daniel Myles, BOOMPA performing arts director Joanne Samuel, the Carrington Hotel and Bendigo Bank for supporting KTC from day one.
Blue Mountains Mayor Daniel Myles said “you have our support, you have our ears because we know there should have been a theatre in Katoomba decades ago”.
A live auction hosted by Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker ended the evening on an entertaining note and Ita Buttrose proudly presented one of the auction items, a signed photograph of Cleo Magazine’s first male centrefold, Jack Thompson, which she personally commissioned.
The night raised more than $16,000 raised for KTC, which will allocate the funds for projects including the theatre fit-out and developing performing arts youth education programs.
For more information about KTC, visit www.katoombatheatrecompany.com.au