obituary: rosie lalevich

Rosie Lalevich

Rosie Lalevich

Rosie Lalevich

TRAGICALLY, IN DECEMBER 2011, WE LOST OUR DEAR FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE ROSIE LALEVICH. HUNDREDS GATHERED TO REMEMBER AND CELEBRATE ROSIE’S PASSIONATE LIFE IN TWO BEAUTIFUL, EMOTIONAL CEREMONIES—ONE AT ROOKWOOD CREMATORIUM AND ANOTHER AS ROSIE’S ASHES WERE SCATTERED IN THE BLUE SEA AT CLOVELLY, A PLACE SHE LOVED. HERE WE SHARE SOME OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF ROSIE’S LIFE WITH THE GREATER PERFORMANCE COMMUNITY, MANY OF WHOM WORKED WITH HER AS WE DID AND CAME TO KNOW AND LOVE HER TOO.

Rosie was born in 1955 in Sydney. At first, with her shock of black hair, it was thought she was a boy, but very soon after it was confirmed this was a girl. And what a girl! Rosie loved telling us this story. She grew up in Haberfield, working after school behind the counter in her Macedonian-Australian parents’ fish shop. But from age 14 Rosie dreamed of becoming an actor. She even fantasised about her stage name—Rosie Candice Lalevich—inspired by the beautiful, blonde Candice Bergen. Rosie would become the dark version!

In 1975 she relocated to Adelaide and joined the Saturday Company where she proved to be an adept ensemble player from the outset, beginning with an energetic performance in Helmut Bakaitis’ epic production Carlotta & Maximillian for the 1976 Adelaide Festival. In 1977 she was engaged by Roger Chapman to appear in Care ‘n’ Control with Magpie Theatre in Education.

In 1983 Rosie graduated in Drama from the Victorian College of the Arts. During her time there, she forged many lifelong relationships both personal and creative that laid the foundations and provided the direction for a creative life that would cross many diverse theatre forms and functions. She later teamed up with fellow Magpie Val Levkowicz to co-write, produce and perform the groundbreaking Ethnic Au Go Go (Spoleto Fringe Festival and Melbourne Festival, 1987) which prefigured the boys’ Wogs Out of Work. She was one of the co-founders of the Melbourne Women’s Season for the Spoleto Fringe Festival. Later she performed in and co-devised with Nöelle Janaczewska and Khristina Totos Crossing the Water (an adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, Performance Space, 1988) and in Tess Lyssiotis’ Forty Lounge Café (1990), the first production in the new CUB Playbox Theatre in Melbourne.

Rosie always shared her political and spiritual leanings with her audiences and the industry, to the extent of lobbying the unions about more multicultural writing and performing opportunities. To this end she secured the rights and funding to produce Anthony Minghella’s A Little Like Drowning (Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney 1992). This production launched Teatro di Migma, a company of NESB artists she co-founded. With Literature Board support, Teatro di Migma commissioned Louis Nowra’s Miss Bosnia, which premiered at La Boite in Brisbane (1995). Set in a Bosnian refugee camp, this was a work that spoke to Rosie’s political heart. She was always strongly motivated by the need to communicate the reality of women’s lives as well as those of oppressed minorities. Works such as Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets (Darlinghurst Theatre, 2003) reinforced Rosie’s prowess as a theatre producer. Necessary Targets, in which she also performed, toured to the CUB Malthouse (2005) and was nominated for a Sidney Myer Award for best drama. In the same year she was nominated for the Ros Bower Memorial Award.

Squeezing in a postgraduate degree in theatre at UNSW, Rosie also produced two highly successful V-Day events, the first a benefit performance of Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues to raise money to stop violence against women and girls. In 2004 she produced Sydney V Day at the Footbridge Theatre, a benefit production with over 45 performers. Another of Rosie’s many talents was the ability to bring together a varied and wonderful assortment of people. She did this in both her professional and personal life. Her passionate ideas and love of life were infectious!

In 2002 she relished playing the role of Caliban in Lee Lewis’s production of the Tempest at New Theatre. Her final and wonderful performance was in Missing the Bus to David Jones with Theatre Kantanka (2009) a work she proudly helped to develop and that dealt with another vulnerable group, the aged. Rosie dedicated her performance to her late and beloved mother, Tasa Lalevich.

Rosie Lalevich’s political integrity and creative intelligence brought us some profound theatrical works. Her great love of life was always the source of her inspiration—and, through her, of ours. We miss you Rosie.

“… when you left, a strip of reality broke
upon the stage through the very opening
through which you vanished:
Green, true green
true sunshine, true forest…” Rilke

Dina Panozzo and Evdokia Katahanas

With thanks to Jeffrey Dawson.

RealTime issue #109 June-July 2012 pg. 26

© Dina Panozzo & Evdokia Katahanas; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

12 June 2012