Kar­nak on way back

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

NICK Ci­lento and his part­ner Al­lie Wilde pulled up at his late aunt Diane’s fa­bled Kar­nak prop­erty all dusty and hot. They had just taken 400 old seats from the the­atre to the coun­cil tip. Thirsty work, but an­other step in the much an­tic­i­pated ren­o­va­tion of the late, great actress’s Whyanbeel the­atri­cal hub which for years had been an artis­tic bea­con in the district.

Since Ms Ci­lento died her beloved prop­erty has been weath­er­ing poorly in the trop­i­cal cli­mate.

But now, her rel­a­tives have agreed on a plan to re­store Kar­nak as a func­tion­ing the­atri­cal and arts cen­tre .

Her nephew Nick, Al­lie and Foun­da­tion Di­rec­tor Bal­lina Gee have been liv­ing on the prop­erty on and off for weeks, get­ting stuck into the very hefty task of bring­ing it back to life.

Ms Ci­lento’s chil­dren Gio­vanna and Ja­son and the Diane Ci­lento Foun­da­tion Board de­liv­ered the project brief­ing to Nick (48) and Al­lie, who were not only will­ing to take it on but are pro­fes­sional per­form­ing artists and pro­duc­ers. Board mem­ber Ms Gee is also part of the per­form­ing arts as an opera singer and cre­ative con­sul­tant in Syd­ney.

“Af­ter be­ing in­ac­tive for six years it is in some state of dis­re­pair. “We’ve started re­build­ing the au­di­to­rium, the stage,

ren­o­vat­ing the restau­rant/bar area, and then it’s a mat­ter of get­ting the com­mu­nity back in,” Mr Ci­lento told the Gazette. “We’ll be pro­duc­ing shows up here, hope­fully with lots of com­mu­nity in­ter­ac­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion. “It’s about cre­at­ing a last­ing legacy here.”

They en­vis­age bring­ing ev­ery­thing to Kar­nak – from big in­ter­na­tional per­form­ers such as opera singers, and ac­ro­bats, or cir­cus per­form­ers and other pro­fes­sional artists, to the lo­cal com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pat­ing in shows.

“It’s all about cre­at­ing an at­mos­phere where art is eas­ily made and able to thrive.”

Mr Ci­lento said that sort­ing out the fu­ture of Kar­nak had taken a while, but Gio­vanna had come to him about 18 months and said “this is what they’d like to hap­pen, but she is not an artist so she needed some­one who was. “So we thought, ‘it’s time’.” Mr Ci­lento said the demise of Kar­nak as a the­atri­cal cen­tre meant some­thing was miss­ing from the area.

“We’ve no­ticed the amount of peo­ple who are in­cred­i­bly in­ter­ested in what’s hap­pen­ing. They say that they re­ally miss it. So that’s a great place to start.”

The re-awak­en­ing of Kar­nak Play­house is planned for next sea­son. The Diane Ci­lento Foun­da­tion has and is ac­cept­ing do­na­tions, spon­sor­ship and in-kind ser­vices to­wards the in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vice de­liv­ery costs.

Crowd fund­ing pro­gram is to be launched and pro­duc­tion/events of con­firmed book­ings are un­der­way. Ms Gee asks that peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in pre­sent­ing pro­duc­tions to come for­ward to be con­sid­ered for pro­gram­ming.

Ms Gee said Ms Ci­lento was full of life and the re-awak­ened Kar­nak Play­house, though in her spirit, could not repli­cate her pres­ence.

“Out of re­spect for Diane, we de­cided to let the The­atre rest a bit to al­low space for the fu­ture of Kar­nak Play­house to take its own form, to find its way into the fu­ture,” she said. To keep up-to-date and/or to con­trib­ute, con­nect through the Foun­da­tions Face­book page https:// www.face­book.com/ DianeCi­len­toFoun­da­tion/


Al­lie Wilde and Nick Ci­lento

The view over the lake to the back of the stage at Kar­nak Play­house

Nick Ci­lento, Bal­lina Gee and Al­lie Wilde

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