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Empty Words Do Their Worst

About 18 months ago, Roger Hodgman and his wife, Pamela Rabe, attended a friend’s wedding in Sydney. People were strangely polite to the pair. They looked deep into their eyes and asked: “Are you guys all right? Are you doing OK?”

A week later, a friend rang Hodgman, the director of the Melbourne Theatre Company, and Rabe, an actress, to say: “You know the story is everywhere that you have split up.”

The rumor swept through Melbourne’s notoriously gossipy arts circles and was followed by updates on the supposed new love interests of Hodgman and Rabe. “It annoyed me intensely,” says Hodgman, who has been married for eight years. “But you just feel so helpless.”

About nine months after the wedding incident, he was rung by a friend in New York who said: “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have thought I deserved to know.” Today, he is still hearing from acquaintances and strangers about his “break-up”.

At one point, Hodgman tried to trace the rumor. He rang a chain of friends but never discovered the source. He thinks it might have been inspired by Rabe’s 18-month stint living and working in Sydney a few years ago. (The couple spent “a fortune” on interstate flights during this time).

“Like most people in theatre circles, I rather enjoy gossip. I have always been entertained by it,” says Hodgman. “But this experience has really made me think twice when people tell me a story about someone else.

“It’s changed my attitude entirely about that sort of gossip. I am much less likely to believe it, or pass it on. There’s a line over which gossip passes that makes it really dangerous and destructive. If it’s true, it’s one thing, but I just think people’s private lives are private.”

Ironically, Hodgman says the latest gossip is that he and Rabe have got back together.

Suzy Freeman-Greene

Source: The Age |  28 October 1993
Photo: Black Swan State Theatre Company | In the Memory of Water Opening Night 2009

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