On this page ; About/description/authors note etc
Community Engagement/Documentary clip
Lost In Venice
The true Australian story of a house wife, a film maker, a man with a vision of pastry and an ill fated trip to Italy in 1965
“Wake in Fright meets Mad Men meets Twin Peaks…”
A play written by Julia Foenander/Directed by Richard Gyoerffy
'Lost in Venice' is now a professional touring production having been part of the main program for ;
The Shirley Bourke Theatre - City of Kingston
The Potato Shed - City of Greater Geelong
The Engine Room - City of Bendigo
Elmore Town Hall - City of Bendigo
Heathcote Memorial Hall - City of Bendigo
2023 - Season at 'Chapel off Chapel' details TBC
"...effortlessly adopts a rich mid-20th century Australian vernacular and dry humour rarely seen on our stages' Kieran Carroll
“Some remarkable historic footage, a sense of impending dread with some dark comic moments” Mia Kate Russell, Make Trouble Films
"We absolutely loved it, facinating story..." Country Women's Association
Lost in Venice - “A true story of love, regret, fate, the collapse of a family dynasty and a feud between two families that continues to this very day…”
Lost in Venice is essentially a theatre piece infused with cabaret vocals and vintage super 8 projection
This is based on a true story of the writers grandparents.
The entire show runs approx for 60 minutes with 15 minutes of dispersed cabaret vocals that act as a backdrop to the actors as well as super eight projection footage. There are also original slides that are projected . The slides and footage are the works of film maker Ron Vincent on whom the story is based upon.
After the show a 15 documentary runs with original footage and interviews that explain what really happened and the fallout that followed
A short break follows before an informal Q & A with the writer.
A maddening and dramatic Mid Century tale infused with super 8 footage and the voice of Nikki Nouveau depict a dark, frantic yet comic and surreal depiction of a true Australian story. An incideous mans world from the 1950’s to a new world on the brink of the cultural and social revolution of the 1960’s. Exploring the great divide between men and women, female archetypes and the shadow ‘Lost In Venice’ weaves a tale of love, regret, tragedy and fate.
The true story of housewife Rita Vincent, her husband and amateur film maker Ron Vincent and their friend Bert Haynes, founder of Pampas Pastry. Largely told from Rita's perspective the play tells the tale of a housewife in Melbourne, the travel of the ANA Sportsman's Club and finally Bert and Ron's trip to Italy that ends in tragedy. With a shifting timeline from the 1940's to the final moment in 1965 the play forges ahead with social and political comment on life for women during these times whilst exploring the privileges and trappings of a 'mans world'. The final reckoning of a sophisticated Europe and the banality of an unplugged and suburban Australia amidst a post war renaissance comes finally comes to a head.
Contains many of the actual treasures collected from the ill fated trip to Italy as well as his (now preserved by the NFSA) historic super 8 film documenting an era when luxury travel, ‘safari’ style trips as well as hunting (for culling, food and trophies) were considered the norm.
Exploring the social change ‘Lost in Venice’ is unapologetic, uncensored and also pays homage to the writer’s grandmother who could never imagined the social and economic freedoms bestowed unto her granddaughter.
Back Story, authors note
Times were changing in 1965 but as Europe headed into it's glory days Australia, still stifled in a conservative British mindset and seperated by a vast ocean from the rest of 'civilisation' was a banale and conservative place. In fact it was around this time that Ava Gardner filmed 'On the Beach' in Melbourne ; a film about the end of the world and famously remarked "They couldn't have picked a better place". It was a shocking and brutal assessment but behind closed doors we as a nation knew it was true. Oddly enough Ron Vincent heard that they were filming in Frankston at that time and took his boat out on the water hoping that he would end up in the background somewhere. Whether or not Ava's comments at day struck a chord and inspired the "insane" (given the circumstances) trip to Europe several years later we will never know.
There is no information online about the history of Pampas Pastry however with extensive research with interviewing those who remember the family we have discovered quite a lot .Bert and Sadie Haynes founded their pastry empire around 1960 and set up their factory in Brunswick which grew and expanded very quickly. Bert was a member of the Ansett ANA Sportmen's Club which was essentially a club for rich men who liked to hunt and travel in style. Most of these men were friends with Regg Ansett and their base was at The Mount Eliza Club. Ron Vincent, used car salesman and general 'wheeler and dealer' was also part of the club. His travels included Papua New Guinea in which he took his super 8 camera and filmed various villages and ways of life. These films were accepted by the NFSA and were deemed to be of historical significance and snippets are included in "Lost in Venice" as part of the overall story. Ron continued his filming and by todays standards would be considered a film maker, his photographs (mostly on slide film) evoke a raw and cinematic theme quite extraordinary for the time. At some stage Ron and Bert become best friends and the families unite only to be broken with what unfolded in Italy that, until now, has been an unspeakable truth.
What's all this talk about Pampas Pastry?
There is a 20 minute film documentary that runs immediately after the play, it is entirely made up of Ron Vincents historic super 8 footage, some of the actual trip with his friend Bert Haynes in 1965 and slide photographs that have been digitised. It has a voiceover by way of an interview with Ron Vincents daughter about what happened in 1965 in Italy, he fallout between the Vincent and the Haynes family and what happened to the Pampas Pastry business. After the screening there is a short break followed by a Q & A with the writer. The response to the documentary has been nothing short of phenomenal with intense interest from not only seniors but younger generations who were never privy to experiencing any super 8 home movies.
The screening also hopes to spark interest in transferring old home movies, we believe there are many undiscovered 'film makers' whose films languish in cardboard boxes or worse still were transferred onto VHS video tape with the original films deemed as useless. We discuss the importance of archiving, how and where its done and encourage the 'slide night' to return - don't throw away your slides!!
*Sneak peak of our documentary
Producers Julia Foenander and Richard Gyoerffy have a creative partnership that spans over 20 years and have toured numerous professional productions all over Australia. Together they have extensive experience in acting, directing, producing, writing and performance inlcluding cabaret. They have worked closely with RAV, Arts Vic, Arts QLD, Artour and have secured close to 100 purchases and co-productions with Arts Centres and festivals all over Australia. For more information please visit the 'Our Story' tab on this website
Abigail King - Hailing from New Zealand A graduate of NASDA, Abigail has appeared on stages across Australia and New Zealand, as well as film festivals around the world. Most recently, she has appeared as Marianne in Nick Payne's Constellations, as well as Screen Australia's 2121, and the soon-to-be released feature film, Long Night in Pexington.
Nikki Nouveau is fast becoming one of Australia's finest cabaret singers and regulary tours Australia with her one woman shows including tributes to Edith Piaf, Marlena Dietrich and Julie London which opened in 2023. She has also toured with The Paris Underground Cabaret. Nikki has studied and performed in Europe as well as New York and has recently undertaken acting and movement classes. Her role in Lost in Venice now expands to an acting role as directed by Richard Gyoerffy
Lost in Venice was first staged in 2018 as a rough prototype. Over the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 it was (partially) recast, re-written and re-directed. Research and development was extensive especially with a few years to sort ten thousand slides, digitise more super 8 films and re-edit our documentary. The play also pivoted to tell the story of the main female character and we changed the narrative to “ Tells the true story of housewife Rita Vincent” … (and her husband film maker Ron). How did we overlook this is something I’ve asked myself many times.
‘Lost in Venice' is one of the most unique productions on the touring circuit combining theatre with snippets of film and cabaret vocals. It’s multi disciplinary form is sharp, cutting edge and keeps an audience spellbound especially with all forms of media presented simultaneously. It is unpredictable, comic, surreal, dark, stunning, nostalgic with some poignant comments on fate, love, regret and life in the 1960’s especially for women.
The play had it’s debut on the professional touring circuit in 2022 with purchases from The City of Bendigo, Kingston Arts and The Greater City of Geelong … and we only cancelled once because of Covid! Houses were good although not sold out which we attribute partly to Covid and partly to the obscure nature of some of the venues such as The Elmore Town Hall.
Working with Stephen Henderson as part of the ‘Small Towns Touring’ program was such a highlight especially to focus on smaller venues in an intimate space. Identifying our audiences was key component although we suspected that we would attract a larger demographic of those 60 plus. Naturally a city audience was slightly different and those 40-50 turned up but surprisingly we saw a small sprinkle of younger people aged in their 20’s.
Being able to re-create an intimate ‘super 8 home movie and slide show experience’ (remember those days?) was incredibly rewarding as those old enough to remember a time when a family gathered around to watch were spellbound. Those too young likewise were enthralled and afterwards the general consensus was ‘more’! More films, more explanations, more slides! Presentation however of the films and slides keeps in line with the complex modern world of distraction with our endless scrolling ; editing is snappy, succinct and fast. We were nervous about showing the 2 minute ‘blue movie’ (just a women in a bath) of June Alison in “Dream Goddess” pulled out of my grandfathers box of films but Stephen encouraged us to just run with it. Our audience saw it exactly for what it was a placed it in context of our story, afterwards we chatted candidly about the film and how by the late 1970’s it was sometimes shown after Christmas dinner to a bunch of gigging children (myself included).
Our lighting design developed into a dark and moody film noir affair, our colour palette with costuming very clear with a focus on olive, orange, gold and brown which was very prevalent in he 1960’s. Our audiences were absolutely gobsmacked that all the props and nearly all the costumes were the original artifacts from my grandparents whom the story is based upon. In fact each night we continued to hear a gasp at the same point in the documentary in which a dress from the play is shown in an old film. Much discussion afterwards in the Q & A revolved around the relationship between the real main characters and what became of them all, interest was phenomenal and we were pleasantly taken back.
I feel extremely confident that our production offers something unique and will go on to successfully tour Australia in every state not only in Black Box spaces but medium sized theatre space. We have a cornered market, a track record with our 2022 touring and strong community engagement and a story of an Australian iconic brand ‘Pampas Pastry’ that needs to be told. It is undoubted a unique and successful play suitable for main programming.