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On the Couch
6 November, 2009  
Robert Green

Robert Green is a Sydney solicitor and a celebrated cabaret singer, whose fame and fortune have been steadily growing for over 20 years … Just before his last show of the year opens we persuaded him to slip onto Justinian’s couch and talk about his world, where law and singing collide


imageRobert Green studied commerce/accounting and law with a view to getting a job as an arts administrator.

Straight out of the College of Law he landed a job with the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

However, he got sidetracked. He felt he needed to be a lawyer to gain some eagerly sought-after credibility.

He planned a legal career lasting no more than five years so that he could make a bit of money and go back to the arts.

Twenty-six years later he’s a sole practitioner in the Sydney CBD.

Importantly, it gives him the opportunity to pursue his great passion – singing and in particular cabaret singing.

He’s been guided by Oscar Hammerstein’s dictum in relation to musicals – when dialogue is no longer enough, you have to have a song.

So it is with Robert Green.

One of his early singing teachers told him after a show, where he sang a very slow version of Cole Porter’s It Was Just One of Those Things, that it made her think of her first husband … and how the marriage wasn’t so bad after all.

Robert Green’s last show for this year will be on Tuesday, November 10, at Bar Me, cnr of William & Brougham Streets, just down from Kings Cross, at 7.30 pm. The details of his cabaret program can be found HERE.

He still gets an attack of nerves before going on stage. We persuaded him to relax, lie down on Justinian’s couch and answer a few questions …

Describe yourself in three words.
Honest, caring and loved.

What are you currently reading?
Venice Pure City” by Peter Ackroyd.

What is your favourite film.
Mame.”

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
Noel Coward, though he never knew it.

What is more important to you – being a lawyer or a cabaret artist?
To put it another way, it is important for me to work as a lawyer and to be a cabaret singer.

Isn’t there sufficient cabaret in the law?
Not yet. But I do talk about the law in my cabaret … you use what you’ve got.

What is your favourite song?
Shall We Dance” from the “King and I”, but in a slow version that I perform in my show.

What is your most recognised talent?
A talent to amuse.

What is your greatest fear?
Losing loved ones.

What words or phrases do you overuse?
Timing is everything in the theatre and life, and lighting if you are over 40.

What is your greatest regret?
That I can’t dance … and losing my hair.

Whom do you envy and why?
People who can play the piano brilliantly and sing, because I would love to be able to do that.

What is your most disturbing personal obsession?
Only other people’s personal obsessions are disturbing.

What’s your most glamorous feature?
My ring.

If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?
Mango and sticky rice.

What human quality do you most distrust?
Over exuberance.

What would you change about Australia?
The tall poppy syndrome. The attitude that elite sports are good but elite arts are … elitist, but not in a good way. The notion that same sex marriage somehow devalues marriage.

Whom or what do you consider overrated?
As a nation we somehow believe that we are the lucky country, lean and green and the land of the fair go and that this makes us special. When Donald Horne coined the term “The Lucky Country” he was employing irony and I suggest the same could apply to the latter two qualities.

How would you like to die?
Healthy but not violently.

What would your epitaph say?
He was loved.”

What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word “law”?
The office!