DIANE CILENTO’S DREAM REVIVED
DIANE Cilento was there in spirit at her beloved Karnak theatre complex in beautiful Whyanbeel at its “reawakening” and open day on Sunday.
Her daughter, Giovanna Volpe, had just that week triumphed for the third and final time in British courts in a fight over the probate of the late actor’ estate, and so the way was clear for the renovation and renewal of Karnak as an artistic hub.
Auspiciously, it was also the 25th anniversary of the opening of Karnak.
“They thought we were just dumb Australians,” Ms Volpe told the audience in the Karnak auditorium.
“They had all gone to Cambridge. And we were from Brisbane. I just told my lawyers to make sure they went on thinking that.”
Now free of obstructions, the Diane Cilento Foundation, relatives and other friends of the project are keen to push forward with it reawakening.
The “old” Karnakians are being joined by the “new” Karnakians, and there was a smattering of both, as well as curious locals, at the open day at the weekend.
GV: “We wanted to reintroduce Karnak to the locals. We’re very oriented toward the local community and wanted to make sure they understand. And to have them along is a great privilege.”
Ms Volpe said that “right now are re-visioning what Karnak is.
“A lot of it is going to about education but it’s also a local resource and so whatever they want to see Karnak be, we’d love to hear from them.”
One of the very earliest Karnakians is Jane Rutter, the renowned flautist who struck up a close friendship with Ms Cilento even before Karnak was born.
“I’ve been coming up here since I was 21 or 22,” she said.
“The thing Diane showed was the absolute love of being connected to nature and also to have an artistic vision that ties art and nature, and that people belong to the natural world as well as the arts.
“Diane has set up a structure for what can take place. She was an amazing catalyst, and an amazing mentor,” Ms Rutter said.
“The old Karnakians and the new Karnakians are all absolutely devoted to keeping Diane’s vision going, of this place being an artistic community.
“The theatre looks like it’s in disrepair but we’ve actually started replacing some of the wood work. But it’s been a slow process since Diane died [in October 2011].
“We’re looking at starting up next year. I’m just completely committed to keep coming up. We hope to do music workshops, theatre workshops, concerts, performances, circus – all sorts of stuff.”
On the day, a noticeboard upstairs at the theatre held dozens of suggestions by locals of what they would like Karnak to be.
Speaking to the Gazette, one local, Carmen from Miallo, said it was great that the complex was opening up again.
“It would be nice for the kids to come here and have artistic training,” she said.
Those interested in following the project or volunteering can find it on the Diane Cilento Foundation’s facebook page.
Jane Rutter at Karnak’s lake with the theatre stage in the background
Diane Cilento when Karnak was at its zenith
Diane Cilento in her film career days