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Citizen Cate
Stone free
Prowling the boards of The Arts Theatre, a rectangular light-blue brick building opened for amateur repertory productions in Adelaide in 1963, Cate Blanchett is about to give a tightly controlled performance, fronting a small jazz-swing band. Her hair is in a silver bob, her red lipstick thickly applied. Holding a microphone in her right hand as the left holds the train of her sparkly off-the-shoulder gold dress, she sings “Let’s Get Away from It All”, a number popularised by Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney: Let’s take a boat to Bermuda, let’s take a plane to St Paul …

Blanchett’s singing is mellifluous and her hips are swaying, but the context of this scene, set in the early 2000s, is ironic and grotesque.

From 1819 until 1848, Hyde Park barracks housed some of Sydney’s convict labour force, their toil helping to displace and decimate the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. When Aboriginal people resisted the British colonisers, former and serving convicts sometimes joined armed soldiers and free settlers in murderous retaliation.

The barracks remains a Unesco world heritage-listed museum, and this weekend will reopen with new, immersive audio and visual technology telling its history inside.

Fifty essays and dispatches on
what it means to be gay today.

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