In March 1966, Katharine Susannah Prichard wrote to her son, ‘I had a wonderful night this week. My young friend, David Helfgott came to dinner – and played to me all the evening… To have so much glorious music – Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Liszt all to myself. It was almost too much. I felt quite drunk with it. But the young man himself is so modest & simple, although well informed about literature & art – discusses with me all the questions of political importance in our time.’
This unlikely inter-generational friendship between Katharine and David is the subject of a new play by David’s sister, Louise Helfgott, to be performed in October to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Katharine’s death. This Friday night, 8 February 2019, the KSP Writers’ Centre is putting on a fundraiser for the production costs of the play. Louise and I will be giving talks followed by a screening of the film Shine, which, of course, includes the friendship as one of its subplots. (The film was chosen before the latest allegations against Geoffrey Rush.) It’s on at the Boya Community Centre, with details here. If you can’t make it but want to donate to the fundraiser, I’m told that’s most welcome too – it’s one of the options when you click the link to purchase a ticket.
My talk gives a picture of Katharine at the end of her life – determined and eccentric – along with thoughts on her attitudes toward film, theatre, and music, and the differences between the Katharine character in Shine and her real life self. It includes references to a famous pink gown, BBQ shapes, and Katharine’s candid opinion of the actor who would play her forty years later, Googie Withers.