Title Details

Noel Tovey - Out Takes

Noel Tovey survived a childhood of poverty, neglect, sexual abuse and racial prejudice to become a leading light in the arts as an actor, choreographer, writer and theatre director.
Series : Australian Biography Series 10 | Year : 2005 | Total Duration : 26 Minutes | Producer : Rod Freedman
Director : Rod Freedman |
Tape 1 - Interview Noel Tovey about his first to performance by his father who was a street musician, the extremely poor conditions he lived in as a child growing up in Carlton, Melbourne and how his sister helped him to survive after his parents abandoned them and they were taken into Welfare Department. Tovey talks about his memories of his mother as a drunk and his Uncle Josh who would sexually abuse him. He recalls Melbourne Royal Park Welfare Depot, being fostered out to Arthur Challenger who abused him and his sister for four years in Burren Junction. Tovey speaks of how his father was sent to Pentridge Gaol and he was taken to Far West Home due to Schlatter's Disease, a physical problem with his knee.
Access No. 138975 | 41 mins 3 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 2 - Interview Noel Tovey about his foster parent Arthur Challenger being arrested for the sexual abuse of his sister, the effect it all had on his sister and their relationship and of being sent back to his mother with his sister. Tovey talks about his family, his father being from African descent and his mother being from Aboriginal descent. He speaks of attending school at St. Michael's where he experienced discrimination, leaving school at eleven and living on the streets. After getting a job at age fourteen in a tin factory then in a bookshop, he began to learn ballet.
Access No. 138976 | 39 mins 20 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 3 - Interview with Noel Tovey about his ambitions to be a performing artist, his first amateur musical in "Sunshine and Rain" in 1948, moving in acting circles in Melbourne and being sacked from his job at the bookshop. Tovey describes being invited to a party at female impersonator Max Du Barry's home and his subsequent arrest. He describes being sent to Pentridge gaol and his traumatic experiences whilst awaiting sentencing. Tovey describes his later released into his sisters custody and changing his name from Morton to Tovey. He speaks of joining the National Service Training as a radio officer and later having a role in a production of Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" at the Princess Theatre in 1954.
Access No. 138977 | 39 mins 59 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 4 - Interview with Noel Tovey about the scandal surrounding his court case, how he got a part in "Paint Your Wagon", and later found work as a dancer at the Tivoli and worked with Dame Edna Everage for ABC TV. Tovey describes being taught to act by Harry Gordon before leaving for England where he could be judged on his skills. He describes meeting his wife Barbara, getting married in 1960 and leaving for England where he worked for George Carden as a dancer on "Saturday Night Spectaculars". Tovey talks of the birth of their daughter in 1961, his separation from Barbara, working on "Grab me a Gondola", meeting his fianc┼Ż Trish and his relationship with his daughter now.
Access No. 138978 | 40 mins 50 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 5 - Interview Noel Tovey about being the principal dancer for Sadler's Wells and of joining a small theatre company in the West End. He speaks of his dancing teacher and mentor Katherine Dunham in Melbourne and signing a contract with agents Fraser and Dunlop with whom he stayed with for thirty years. Tovey describes the year he spent in Rome after his first marriage broke down, his return to England and his engagement to Trish. He speaks of receiving an offer from Michael Codron to choreograph a West End production "The Boyfriend" after which he was asked to take the production to Australia. He also speaks of his work with Richard Eyre on Victorian pantomimes in Edinburgh.
Access No. 138979 | 40 mins 12 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 6 - Interview with Noel Tovey about his 1966 singing debut in the West End "On the Level", of never receiving a bad review in his career and directing and choreographing the first ever drag show in England. Tovey describes his relationship with partner Trish and their mutual decision not to get married and his subsequent relationship with Dave Sarrell with whom he was with for eighteen years. He speaks of Sarrell contracting HIV AIDS at a time when there was no support and they experienced alienation from friends and family. Tovey discusses Sarrell's hospitalisation and euthanasia and of setting up an AIDS Trust at St. Mary's Hospital in England and then in Australia, chaired by Ita Buttrose.
Access No. 138980 | 39 mins 11 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 7 - Interview with Noel Tovey about his involvement in the protests against racial discrimination, his visit to South Africa in 1968, how he coped with the death of partner Dave Sarrell in 1986 and his return to Australia. Tovey talks about his decision to go public with his Aboriginal identity, setting up and teaching Performing Arts courses at the Eora Centre with TAFE in Redfern, his personal views on contemporary Aboriginal affairs and his work for the Minister for Juvenile Justice devising a program for young indigenous offenders. Tovey describes his work on the production "State of Shock", sitting on various committees representing indigenous art and social injustice and producing an all indigenous cast for "A Midsummer Nights Dream" for the Olympic Festivals. He also talks of receiving a call from his older brother telling him he was dying.
Access No. 138981 | 40 mins 56 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 8 - Interview with Noel Tovey about his faith in Buddhist philosophy in dealing with losses in his life, his work with indigenous and non-indigenous children at the Powerhouse Museum and teaching "The Living Floor Project" at Casula which received Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Award. He speaks of directing "The Aboriginal Protesters" at Performance Space, touring the Weimar Festival in Germany, and workshops at Pact theatre. Tovey talks about playing the role of Con Colleano the famous indigenous circus performer for the "The Flying Fruit Fly Circus", setting up a Fellowship in his name for socially and financially disadvantaged children and receiving 2000 Indigenous Fellowship to write his autobiography "Little Black Bastard" that he adapted into a play. He talks about his adopted grandchildren and his passion for sports.
Access No. 138982 | 40 mins 13 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 9 - Interview with Noel Tovey about his relationship with his mother and his mother's arrival to Australia her early life, how his parents met and his father's background. Tovey describes the reasons for rejecting then embracing his Aboriginal identity, the differences between urban Aborigines and traditional Aborigines and dealing with rejection from Aboriginal communities on his return to Australia. He speaks of the success of the Fellowship projects he has initiated and the Leadership programs with the Benevolent Society.
Access No. 138983 | 38 mins 26 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 10 - Interview with Noel Tovey about the significant relationships in his life, how his various sexual encounters have effected his major relationships and his thoughts on having money. Tovey describes the challenge of being a businessman in opening a gallery, the influence of Catholicism on his childhood and Buddhism in his later life and the continuous connection to ancestral spirituality. Tovey talks about how his greater purpose is to inspire others in adverse situations to achieve. He gives his thoughts on alcohol and how it has effected Aboriginal culture and society.
Access No. 138984 | 40 mins 44 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 11 - Interview Noel Tovey about coping with his depression, not making excuses in his life, what he wanted to convey in his autobiography. He discusses preconceived stereotypes of Aboriginal peoples. Tovey describes what his thoughts are on death, his state of health, his early experiences that gave him hope for a different sort of life and finding salvation in the Arts. Tovey talks about his childhood, highlights of his career, his involvement in set design and his long term contract with Linnett and Dunphy and how he got involved in the production "Oh Calcutta".
Access No. 138985 | 41 mins | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tape 12 - Interview with Noel Tovey about directing and choreographing "Anything Goes" in Australia at the Richbrook Theatre, drawing on his personal experience and pain to create characters and better opportunities. Tovey describes enduring stigma when he was younger for being homosexual and how he feels proud of being black and homosexual.
Access No. 138986 | 24 mins 25 secs | 2000s | Australia | © NFSA | Colour |