Playing Rock Hudson

Bartholomew Walsh (left) as Rock Hudson with Shane Savage as Marc Christian_photo by Pia JohnsonPlaying Rock Hudson is a new Australian play that tells the rarely told and dramatic tale of 1950s Hollywood star Rock Hudson’s death and its aftermath.

This is not another celebrity biography, but rather a close look at the events that followed Rock’s death, and the impact they had on his carefully constructed image,” says Cameron Lukey, playwright and director of the new work.

One of America’s most popular movie stars throughout the fifties and sixties, Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, making world headlines as the first celebrity to publicly succumb to the disease.

Shortly after, Hudson’s former partner Marc Christian sued the actor’s estate for reckless endangerment, claiming that Hudson withheld the true nature of his diagnosis for the last year of their relationship.

During Christian’s lawsuit the most intimate details of Hudson’s life came under scrutiny, and the outcome of the case has since informed American, and Australian, legislation on the issue of HIV status disclosure.

“Once he had died, the people in his life tried to lay claim to knowing the real Rock Hudson, their conflicting memories highlighting what an enigmatic and undefinable figure he was,” says Lukey.

Despite the mystery that surrounded his life, Hudson’s death inspired a significant awareness campaign for HIV and AIDs, led by his close friend, actress Elizabeth Taylor.

“Hudson’s death left a profound impact on the world by inspiring a call to action, but even in today’s age of enlightenment this is still a very current and relevant story” says Michele Bauer, Producer for Playing Rock Hudson.

“In fact, Australia – and Victoria – has seen a rise in HIV diagnosis for the first time in five years, which I think is a direct result of the decline in conversations surrounding HIV issues.”

“Hopefully Playing Rock Hudson will help to reignite those conversations and awareness.”

Director / writer: Cameron Lukey  Cast: Richard Aspel, Nick Backstrom, Andrew Carolane, Odette Galbally, Sam Lavery, Shane Savage, Bartholomew Walsh  Producer: Michele Bauer  Set Design: Ryan Foote  Lighting Design: Clare Springett  Costume Design: Esther Marie Hayes  Sound Design: Russell Goldsmith

Playing Rock Hudson
Tower – Malthouse Theatre, Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: 21 November – 4 December 2013
Bookings: (03) 9685 5111 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Bartholomew Walsh and Shane Savage – photo by Pia Johnson