Revival of Diane Cilento's legacy


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The late Diane Cilento pictured at her outdoor amphitheatre 'Karnak Playhouse'. IMAGE: Supplied.

IN its heyday, Karnak Playhouse was extremely popular among Douglas Shire locals. It was actress Diane Cilento’s legacy. Sadly, though, Karnak is not what it used to be.

But this can all change. And on Saturday (from 10am to 4pm) at a special Open Day at Karnak Playhouse with its once spectacular amphitheatre, there will be a revival with the major objective of restoring the property to its former glory.

According to Nadia Jade, a spokesperson for the Diane Cilento Foundation, Diane’s daughter Giovanna Volpe will outline proposed plans for Karnak.

“Giovanna is extremely keen to renovate the property, which is run down after not being used for some time.

“And among the plans is to use the Playhouse during the Performing Artists’ Season which runs from May to October,” said Jade.

Jade said raising funds will be key to its future and they’ll be looking for grants and support from the artistic community.

“There are many people who have fond memories of Diane, and many others who have a love for Karnak. It’s these people who may want to assist in funding and allowing it to once again be a popular venue for locals and visitors.

“The local community will be just as important and on Saturday we are encouraging people to come and hear Giovanna’s plans and how they can be part of the future of Karnak,” she said.

There will be music, workshops, circus acts and other performances and the chance to re-live this once popular site. There will also be a BBQ, but visitors are welcome to have a picnic on the grounds.

Diane Cilento won international acclaim as an actress during the 1950s and 1960s. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role as the seductive Molly in Tom Jones in 1963, around which time she also gained celebrity status as the wife of Sean Connery.

Following her death in October 2011, her children, Giovanna Volpe and Jason Connery, were committed to continue Diane’s life work and passion in her memory. Her legacy lives on through the operation of the Karnak Playhouse. The Diane Cilento Foundation was started at the same time.

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