THE LATE CAROL BURNS – SO VERY MUCH MORE THAN A PATRON
Carol Burns’ first association with The Independent Theatre (Sunshine Coast) was when the theatre, at the suggestion of theatre legendary, Joan Benson, invited her to direct a play called Playing Sinatra. The director’s fee on offer wasn’t very large but as luck would have it Carol had seen the play in the UK and loved it and to add to it, her husband, composer Alan Lawrence, had written the soundscape score for the London production.
The cast chosen was as strong as you could find, Rainee Skinner, Luke Lanham and Philip Chappell. All the luck was running The Indee’s way because Alan Lawrence had to make a trip to the UK at the time and asked the London producers if we could have permission to use the recorded soundscape and they said yes.
The set devised by Carol Burns was startling, the standard gained from the actors, under her direction, was above first-rate and the season was nothing short of terrific. It was a very large feather in the theatre’s cap and the beginning of a wonderful friendship with an iconic theatre practitioner and wonderful human being, who later became The Independent Theatre patron (joining Peter and Jenny Wellington).
CAROL BURNS’ STAGE ASSOCIATION WITH THE INDEE
PLAYING SINATRA Written by Bernard Kops, directed by Carol Burns. Cast Rainee Skinner, Philip Chappell and Luke Lanham. June 15th, 16th, 17 & 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 2001
BILL & MARY (The relationship between artist William Dobell & poet, Dame Mary Gilmour) Witten by Bille Brown with the two special Indee performances (extremely rehearsed readings) directed by Bille Brown. Cast, Bille Brown, Carol Burns. May 21st, 22nd 2004.
HOME written by David Storey, directed by Carol Burns. Cast Ray Svenson, Warren Meacham, Marilyn Davies, Di Meyers and Kane Searson. June 10th, 11th, 12th & 17th, 18th, 19th 2005.
ART written by Yasmin Reza, directed by Carol Burns. Cast Luke Lanham, Frank Wilkie and Keith Daly. 26th, 27th 28th May & June 1st, 2nd, 3rd 2007.
THE BRINK Written by Bob Newman, directed by Carol Burns. Starring Bob Newman. One performance only. Saturday, 17th April 2009.
FARTING ABOUT IN MAKE-UP Written and directed by John Burls. Cast Eddie Ellis, Luke Lanham, Joy Marshall, Rita Walker. Special guest Carol Burns. Musical spots, Ashlee McKinnon, Calyce Bennetts, Guy Maybury, Alan Ball. October 2nd, 3rd, 4th 2010.
MOONLIGHT & MAGNOLIAS Written by Ron Hutchinson, directed by Carol Burns. Cast Brett Klease, Wayne Clark, Luke Lanham, Marcia Essers. May 27th 28th, 29th June 4th, 5th, 6th.
CHAIN OF DECEIT Written by John Burls, directed by Carol Burns. Cast Carol Burns, Luke Lanham, Leona Kirby, Sandy Luscombe, Eddie Ellis, Keith Souter. April 26th, 27th, 28th & May 3rd, 4th, 5th, 2013.
Carol Burns died Dec 2015. A packed tribute took place on Feb 8th 2016, at the Playhouse Theatre, Southbank. Money raised went to Carol’s pet charity, The Actor’s Benevolent Fund.
Carol always attended whichever Indee shows fitted in with her busy schedule, mostly in company with her husband Alan Lawrence and she was constantly in touch with the theatre via e-mail, taking a keen interest in how productions and ticket sales were progressing and how core actors were faring. (see Carol’s last email, below)
She became a good friend with Indee committee members, John and Carol Burls. She was generous to a fault with her time and patience and indeed, in a gesture that rocked Indee members, with money. At the after show cast party of Chain of Deceit, Carol presented a card that stated:
“Hi All, It is wonderful to be welcomed into your community of players when I come to Eumundi, either as director, audience member or actor. Please accept this donation for your community theatre to use in whatever way you see fit. Love Carol”. (it was a cheque for a substantial sum of money, amounting to some thousands).
Carol’s last email
Hello you two,
I’m prompted to write now on the train trip to Caboolture by speaking to a woman who is going to visit her sister in Palmwoods and I immediately thought of you. I have been pre-eminently occupied with my own affairs this year which started with me beginning the learning of Happy Days while Alan was overseas in January. It’s been ongoing since then. Wesley and I decided we would meet sporadically to allow me to develop the piece organically with lots of independent thinking time. We met with the designer early and I’ve had input in all aspects of the production. In the last month things have picked up apace but without Willie. Steven Tandy only rejoins us (after 12 hours rehearsal early in thje process) on the 6th July when we start one week of full time rehearsal followed by production week and our first audience on 18th July. I hope I feel secure by then. I’m pretty sure now of my links and thinking and the SM challenges me by just jumping into the play anywhere and quoting a line that I have to follow on from and state what’s come before. It’s demanding, exposing of any weakness, and really helpful.
‘I was interrupted in my progress with the play through the end of March, all of April and the first week of May by surprising circumstances. My doctor sent me for an ultrasound because I had repeated UTI, they found a tumour in my bladder and I had the a resection on 9th April. That wasn’ty enough because the cancer had grown through the wall of the bladder so on 23rd April the surgical team at PA performed a cystectomy, a radical hysterectomy, removed lymph nodes, and took part of my ilium to form a conduit from my kidneys to a stoma. I no longer have to queue for the ladies loo in the interval crush at a show, I simply pee into a bag. After 11 days in hospital I came home to exemplary care from Alan and am recovering well and was back at rehearsal by 10th May. I don’t have any more checks until the season is over and at the end of August when that’s done we are off to Paris for a month so I don’t think there’s any time when I’m going to be in Palmwoods to see Indee Theatre triumphs.
I hope it’s all going well and you’ve got enthusiastic locals to help with the job of running the theatre as well as being in the shows.
I’m spending this weekend with my mother on Bribie while Alan works on the soundscape for Happy Days. Because of the Beckett estate restrictions there is nothing other than The Bell within the text so he’s taken his task wider than supplying a ferocious bell to creating a framing device for the whole play in sound. If you come down to see the show, start listening while you’re in the foyer.
I hope good health is with you both and it’s simply the aches and pains of longevity to be dealt with.
Lots of love