Friends gather to remember Diane
LAST Saturday at Karnak, on a glorious sunny afternoon, a group of friends gathered to celebrate Diane Cilento’s life.
Many of us who knew her intimately always felt we were in the presence of greatness that goes beyond the celebrity status, Hollywood fame, or Oscar nomination.
Diane’s greatness was not any of that. It was in the way she lived her life, her sense of purpose and the ability to shake, stir and inspire people around her.
She touched this Earth lightly, shared generously and affected deeply.
Diane had a gift to bring out the best in people and make them laugh.
She was funny, disarmingly honest and direct, and hugely entertaining.
A born performer, a great conversationalist, a heart without measure, Diane was a friend to many, yet she belonged to no one.
A free spirit, she defied ordinariness, rebelled against mediocrity, smiled in the face of adversity and lived her nine lives according to her own script.
Diane’s dream of an outdoor theatre in the bush came true when she opened Karnak playhouse 20 years ago, bringing worldclass musicians and top shows to the people of Far North Queensland.
We all wondered how she did it.
Last year our local community and international visitors in the area were the fortunate recipients of Diane’s breathtaking solo performance at Karnak of Woman Before A Glass to a full house standing ovation. She was 77.
Earlier this year Karnak brought out two great operas to its stage, The Marriage of Figaro and La Traviata, played to a full house.
Diane did it again, to the amazement of all.
We sat around the patio on Saturday afternoon, remembering Diane’s life and reliving those special moments we had with her.
And it felt as if she was there watching over us from the cover of her book My Nine Lives presiding proudly on the big red cane chair, Diane’s favourite.
In a reflective moment, I wondered yet again how this wonder woman had kept Karnak alive and kicking all these years.
Diane went on gazing with intense curiosity from the book cover. I only wish she could hear me say: “You are a hero, Diane. You did it. Against all odds, you did it. And, the show will go on.”