jim and rich

Jim Sharman was asked to direct the Sydney production of 'Hair' in 1969, when he was 24 years old. It was the first time that a local director had been used on a Broadway production in Australia.

"You had . . . a very puritanical society being confronted with something that was very loud in expressing the need for sexual liberation and I think if there was a central issue that confronted people, it was that one."
(on the 'nude scene')

" . . . it was absolutely visceral theatre and in that way it connects to the times. There's a famous quote about the late sixties which is, 'If you can remember it, you weren't there,' and in essence that also applies to 'Hair'."

"['Hair'] was an absolute response to the Vietnam War and inside that was a . . . curiously quite conservative and rather Christian parable of the kind of Christ-like Claude . . . representing an entire generation who are being sacrificed to a war that at the very least was highly questionable."

Jim Sharman was born 12 March 1945 in Sydney, Australia, as James David Sharman. He spent much of his young life at the circus, where his father and grandfather ran a travelling boxing sideshow. Taking an interest in theatre, he attended the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, graduating in 1966. Sharman became interested in directing experimental theatre. While directing the Sydney production of Hair in 1970, he met a young architectural student named Brian Thomson, who would become his longtime set designer. His local production of Jesus Christ Superstar caught the attention of lyricist Tim Rice, who brought him and Thomson to London in 1972 to stage the production, which included Richard O'Brien in an understdy role, who would catch the eye of Sharman and introduce him to his idea for a show. Sharman directed all the original casts of Rocky Horror but the original Australian Cast of The Rocky Horror Show was Sharman's favourite. Directing the stage productions of "The Rocky Horror Show" gave Sharman the opportunity to direct its film version The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and its sequel Shock Treatment (1981). Sharman went on to become one of Australia's most respected theatre directors.

His stage work has encompassed over 80 productions, including opera (Don Giovanni, Threepenny Opera, Voss, Death In Venice) classics (Shakespeare, Strindberg, Wedekind, Brecht), international writing (Pinter, Genet, Garcia Lorca, Joe Orton, Sam Shepard) and a large body of original Australian work, including much of the stage and screen work of Patrick White.  Jim's films include: The Night The Prowler; The Rocky Horror Picture Show for 20th Century Fox, and the AFI nominated portrait of Patrick White: The Burning Piano for ABC-TV.  Jim was Artistic Director of The Adelaide Festival of Arts and Lighthouse - State Theatre of South Australia.  He developed a film project with Stephen Sewell and, in September 2005, staged Britten's Death In Venice, starring Philip Langridge and conducted by Richard Hickox for Opera Australia.

JIM SHARMAN, DIRECTOR: There was certainly a "born in the trunk" upbringing, with travelling shows and moving around Australia.
It was very romantic, very sensual and very appealing.

JIM SHARMAN: I remember seeing a performance at quite a young age, I think early teens.
And I think my parents, being a little concerned that I wished to be a performer, inquired, and I said "No, there must have been somebody" - I actually do remember the phrase - "who imagined that up."
And they said, "Yes, there is" and I said, "That's what I want to be."
From Hair to Jesus Christ Superstar to London's Royal Court, he went on to direct the musical of the Rocky Horror Show, then co-wrote the film version.
JIM SHARMAN: Rocky Horror, I suppose, both on stage and on film, holds the special place because it was the one that I was involved in creating from the ground up.
JIM SHARMAN: It was kind of the period of the musicals and the period of the popularism, as it were.
And there was something where I really wanted to dig a bit deeper.
And that, I think, in many ways, was a richer and more interesting period, though not necessarily as popular.

More than 30 years on, Jim Sharman's passion for theatre that does much more than just entertain is undiminished.

JIM SHARMAN: I like theatre that transforms you - be it a musical, be it an opera, be it a play - but actually shakes you up and makes you see the world in a different way.
No question that, in a way, one has seen life as an adventure. I've never really veered from that idea.
I've never, basically, settled down.
And, in a funny kind of way, I don't think I've ever had a job.

Tracy Bowden complete report. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2004/s1082596.htm


Before meeting Richard O'Brien, Jim Sharman and Brian Thomson had just finished an Australian film together called Shirley Thompson Versus the Aliens, a rocking adventure about a 50's "Widgie" and her encounter with alien beings at Luna Park who animate a statue of the Duke of Edinburgh, it was a big influence on the look and feel of The Rocky Horror Show. Shirley Thompson was played by Jane Harders who went on to play Janet in the Original Austalian Cast. In the rock 'n' roll era in Australia, rough boys were called Bodgies, and their girls were called Widgies. In the Original Australian Cast production of Rocky Horror, Frank referred to Eddie as "A Widgie from the Fridgie".

Shirley Thompson Versus the Aliens with Jane Harders 1972


Sitting on top of a jukebox, where have I seen that? The inspiration for The Time Warp sequence.

While we're on the subject of films containing Rocky Horror alumni!

One year after filming The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jim Sharman made the Australian film Summer of Secrets.

Summer of Secrets
Directed by Jim Sharman
Writing credits John Aitken
Cast (in credits order)
  .... Doctor Beverley Adams
Rufus Collins
.... Bob
.... Kym
Andrew Sharp
.... Steve
.... Rachel
Jude Kuring
.... Shop Assistant
Produced by Michael Thornhill
Original Music by Cameron Allan
Cinematography by Russell Boyd
Art Direction by Jane Norris
102 mins.
You are here to help people, not to make monkeys feel bad about fucking! -- Bob

Here we have several Rocky Horrorites together again. Jim Sharman - The Director, Arthur Dignam - Narrator in the original OZ cast 1974, Nell Campbell - Columbia London and film, Rufus Collins - one of the film's Transylvanians, and Kate Fitzpatrick - Australia's first Magenta.

The film was shot in Australia in 1976, a slow moving Gothic style piece. Unexpected and unusual are the key words for this strange tale full of game playing and reminescence.

Wandering along a lonely beach one day Bob (Rufus Collins) and Kym (Little Nell) are drawn into the world of Dr. Beverley Adams (Arthur Dignam), a doctor obsessed with the very secret of life itself! They discover the Doctor wants to bring his dead wife back to life and the stress of it all is making him run to the bathroom to apply make-up!!

Despite the cast and strange similarities in the plots description, there is nothing Rocky Horror about this outing from Mr. Sharman, but as an independent piece it's an interesting and rewarding watch for those who like odd movies with a slow pace.


Jim Sharman up close direction

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