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Jim Sharman Jim Sharman i(A1698 works by) (a.k.a. James David Sharman)
Born: Established: 1945 Sydney, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Male
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BiographyHistory

Director of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jim Sharman is the son of boxing tent entrepreneur Jimmy Sharman. He is a director and writer for both film and stage.

Sharman graduated from the production course at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Sydney, in 1966, and embarked on a series of experimental theatre productions, culminating in directing a production of Mozart's Don Giovanni for Opera Australia when he was still only twenty one.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Sharman directed three significant rock musicals: Hair (1969), which played in Sydney (Sharman also designed the original Sydney production), Melbourne, Tokyo, and Boston; Jesus Christ Superstar (1972), which played in Australia and London; and, with Richard O'Brien, the original production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1973), which played in London, Sydney, Los Angeles, and New York City.

In 1975, Sharman co-write the screenplay for the feature-film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as directing the film. In an ABC radio interview with Peter Thompson (Talking Heads), Sharman said of Rocky Horror that

When we did the stage version of Rocky Horror we thought it would last for three weeks. We had no idea it would play in every country in the world. And then finally when we turned it into a film it converted cinemas into theatres, as audiences dressed up and impersonated the characters and the audience took over the film and in a way that has kept it alive with adolescents going through certain rites of passage. I think I became a much tougher director during and I think also, if there was some kind of line going back to early vaudeville shows and panto dames, it found its home in Rocky Horror.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was not Sharman's first film: that had been 1972's Shirley Thompson Versus the Aliens, which he both co-wrote (with Helmut Bakaitis) and directed. He followed Rocky Horror with the horror film Summer of Secrets (1976), directed by Sharman to a John Aitken script); The Night, the Prowler (1978), directed to a Patrick White screenplay and based on White's novella; and loose Rocky Horror sequel Shock Treatment (1981), again co-written with Richard O'Brien. This was Sharman's last film until the 43-minute experimental and musical film Andy X, about the 1987 death of Andy Warhol, co-written with Stephen Sewell.

Sharman directed a number of Patrick White's plays in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including The Season at Sarsaparilla, Big Toys, Netherwood, and A Cheery Soul. For most of these productions, he worked in conjunction with production designer Brian Thomson, whose other productions include Starstruck (1982), Street Hero (1984), Rebel (1985), Ground Zero (1987), Barlow and Chambers: A Long Way from Home (1988), and Turtle Beach (1992).

In 1982, Sharman was director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts. While in South Australia, he created Lighthouse, a theatre company that specialised in radical stagings of classics and premieres of new work by major Australian dramatists, including Louis Nowra, Stephen Sewell, and Patrick White. As well as major Australian actors, including Geoffrey Rush, Gillian Jones, John Wood, and Kerry Walker, the Lighthouse ensemble included Neil Armfield (as associate director).

Sharman's most recent works include Stephen Sewell's Three Furies, for which he won a Helpmann Award for best direction, Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice, and Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.

Sharman's memoir, Blood and Tinsel, was published by Melbourne University Press in 2008.


Further Reference

Thompson, Peter (interviewer). 'Jim Sharman'. Talking Heads. ABC Radio (transcript) 17 Nov. 2008. (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/talkingheads/txt/s2415036.htm) (Sighted: 10/10/2012)

Most Referenced Works

Last amended 10 Oct 2012 12:54:50
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