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Alice Springs news


Alice Springs news; NewspaperNT




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This publication contains many links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.




Community newspspers; Australia, Central; Alice Springs (N.T.); Newspapers

Publisher name

Erwin Chlanda

Place of publication

Alice Springs


v. 17 issue 23

File type



Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

Copyright owner

Erwin Chlanda



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

This is an ongoing disease that has to be managed. The key for me is to have a plan around those moments when I think I need a drink. For Fiona its when shes performing, before and after going on stage, but also in social situations. Since her career took off, she has been at parties and functions for around 200 nights a year and shed drink every time it just wasnt sustainable! It started as Dutch courage but it caught up with me. It was like swimming in the ocean, having a wonderful time and then suddenly youre caught in a rip and whats happening is out of your control. In the end, I had to choose, my career or the booze. She takes life and recovery one day at a time. Ive had relapses every time I pray its the last one. Theyre always when I dont follow my plan. I need to hang out after the show just as long as the adrenalin lasts thats a natural high and then be ready to retreat, back to her hotel or, best of all, back home. Shes so grateful to live in Alice Springs, as a peaceful, artistically freeing place, where she can hang out with her kids, or curl up with a video, a cup of tea and a crumpet. Looking back at the comedy shes done to date, she feels now that theres always been a piece missing, more so in recent years, when despite five star reviews, at times shes been barely able to function. I thought I couldnt be funny without alcohol many comedians feel that way and some of my best support in my recovery has come from other comedians who are recovering alcoholics I call them my carnival family. I had to relearn what I do and how I can be in a social situation. Ive done a lot of cognitive therapy around this. Its so arrogant, in hindsight, the thought that people need you, drunk, to have fun you know what, Fiona, parties can get on without you! She says she still feels as terrified as she ever did before she goes on stage, but its a beautiful fear. Its so much better, everything is so clear now, I can react to the audience. I guess its like any job, you do it much better if youre sober. How hard is it going to be to do this tell-all show in her home town? Im not changing a word, its exactly the same show but Im definitely twice as frightened. Conversely, Im twice as excited. In the past its been a tricky dance playing to an Alice audience. A lot of my comedy was built around living in such an unusual place, but Id have to change it for the local audience. This time I wont have to do that. When Fiona says same show she means same core show. In fact every performance is a little different. She builds a show around 12 key words, not around a line by line script, and she never rehearses out loud. The beginning, middle and end are the same but in between she leaves herself free to go off on tangents and keep it alive, feeding off the audience. Ive never phoned it in, she says, even when Ive been drunk and Im proud of that. I think Id have to stop if I ever got to that stage. Meanwhile, shes trying something new acting in a recreation of David Williamsons play, Emerald City. A charity fundraiser, its called One Night in Emerald City, in which Williamson promises a scurrilous, opinionated and accurate look at Sydney. Fiona got to propose the type of character shell play and shell be on stage alongside the likes of Robyn Nevin, Ian Thorpe, Ita Buttrose, John Singleton. Before that though shell take On a Wing and a Prayer to New York, playing in the Gotham Comedy Club. Producers from the Letterman Tonight Show will be there. If they like what she does, shell get a spot on that show, making her the first Australian female comedian to achieve this. These ambitions exhaust me but setting goals is whats taken me to where I am. In the beginning the goal was to do headline comedy at a club in Melbourne. Now I dream about walking a Red Carpet and when Im asked where I got my dress, Ill say from The Dressing Room in Alice Springs. Grand dreams aside, Fiona says the highlight of her career occurred recently when she played On a Wing and a Prayer in Sydney. Her parents were there and loved the show, responding in a way that they havent before. Instead of a very nice, dear she got the first real after show hug shes ever had from her mother Ive been waiting for that my whole life. And my dear old Dad, whos nearly 80, simply cried for joy.

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