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

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

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