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Bingara Advocate

Book 'taps into my own passions' Professor tells Roxy audience

Bingara Advovate, pages 1 & 2, Vol. 73. No. 11, Tuesday April 4, 2006.

'Katsehamos and The Great Idea' is an engaging book that taps into topics and experiences which are close to my own passions. It pulls together family history, immigration history and local history. It provides strong portraits of individuals, their personalities, desires, frailties, failures and achievements. It locates Australian experiences in a broader world context, especially a context which links to Greece and to events in Europe. It offers strong descriptions of different places. It utilises oral histories, government records, newspaper articles, family photographs and other memorabilia. And, above all else, it is easy to read and engaging."

Professor Wilton says that, the focus is the Roxy Theatre in Bingara, but, rather than dominating the book, the Roxy provides an anchor for exploring topics like the lives and experiences of the three men responsible for building the theatre, the nature and networks of Kytherian immigrants both in and beyond Australia, and the place of cafes and cinemas in the political, social and economic life of Bingara.

"The book begins in Kythera with Peter describing his first encounter with his ancestral island and the family village of Mitata in the 1970s. The landscape, the feel of the place, the colours and contours come through", Professor Wilton said.

"The book begins in Kythera with Peter describing his first encounter with his ancestral island and the family village of Mitata in the 1970s. The landscape, the feel of the place, the colours and contours come through", Professor Wilton says.

The book traces the brothers' journey, first to America, and a series of events that changed their homeland and brought them to Australia.

"Another important feature of the book is the amount of detail given on the impact of wars in Europe, the military service of family members, and the importance of ongoing connections to Kythera. Migration to Australia did not mean cutting off ties with home: wives and children often stayed behind in Kythera, visits home were desired and expected. Indeed, it was while Panagiotes Firos (Peter Feros) was on a visit to his family in Kythera that his two partners in Peters & Co here in Bingara, decided to expand and get the building of the Roxy complex underway."

Peter's excursion into what he labels at one stage 'the cinema wars' is particularly revealing," Professor Wilton said.

"He provides background on the open air cinema created in Bingara in 1912 by William Finkernagel and John Veness, the demise of that cinema through Victor Peacocke's creation of the Regent Theatre in the Soldiers' Memorial Hall, and then the campaign by Peacocke to sideline the Roxy Theatre development. Into the mix go anti-Greek sentiments, lobbying of government agencies, and a newspaper advertising campaign.

There are also fond and evocative memories of the entertainment offered through the Roxy, the food served at the local cafes, and the interiors and staff of those cafes. There is a detailed account and description of the building of the Roxy, its features, its programs, its failure as a business enterprise for its three founders and its subsequent history. There are also details about what happened to the Roxy's founders after the failure of their business enterprise.

These are but small tastes of what the book has to offer.

It is a book that provides insights into local, family and community history. It evokes the loneliness and challenges of migration. It portrays life in Bingara in the 1930s. And it reveals the passion and commitment of its author in his journey of discovery into his own history and heritage, and his willingness and ability to share the fruits of that discovery with a wider audience.

It is my honour and pleasure to launch 'Katsehamos and the Great Idea' written by Peter Prineas as part of the celebrations to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Roxy Cinema and as an acknowledgement of the important contribution made not just by Peter Feros (Katsehamos), George Psaltis (Katsavias) and Emmanuel Aroney (Theodoropoulos), the founders of the Roxy, but by all Greek immigrants who, particularly during the first part of the twentieth century, contributed significantly to the services and lifestyles available in towns throughout regional Australia," Professor Wilton concluded.

See also:

Speech introducing Bob Carr at the Sydney launch

Review(s) of the book

Professor Janis Wiltons' speech, Bingara book launch

Details of the Bingara book launch, photograph unveiling, and 70th Anniversary Ball

Founders photographs unveiled, Roxy, Bingara


Kytherians flocked to Bingara from everywhere

Peter Feros's descendants

Descendants and freinds of Roxy Theatre founder, Peter Feros

The book Katsehamos and the Great Idea is available from the publisher,
Plateia Press,
32 Calder Road, Darlington, NSW,
or email here
phone (02) 9319 1513
and also from Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW, 2037 and selected bookshops.

Katsehamos and the Great Idea is also available in the New England and Northwest region of NSW, from the Roxy Theatre, Maitland Street, Bingara.
Phone: 02 67240003
or email here

For further information
Phone: Sydney, (02) 9319 1513
Mobile: 0429 322 857

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