Robert Taylor admits cigarettes led him to a life of drug taking, but today the reformed smoker is starring in his own Fringe Festival play and singing alongside Archie Roach in the upcoming Adelaide Festival.
Robert, 58 of Para Hills and a Ngarrindjeri man, will be performing his one man play ‘Mirror Man’ at the Tandanya Café as part of the Fringe Festival from Thursday 21st February.
He will also be part of the 10-voice all-star indigenous gospel choir performing with Archie Roach at the Adelaide Festival on 16 March.
Robert says all his dreams are coming true, but he can’t stop thinking – ‘thank god I gave up the smokes’.
“To be able to perform and sing at my age after the lifestyle I lived is a real bonus,” Robert said.
“Sometimes I am just so happy that I feel like shouting out in the street. I feel so happy that I have the opportunity to exercise this gift.”
Robert is one of 16 Ambassadors who has courageously told his smoking story as part of the Rewrite Your Story campaign.
The campaign features the smoking stories of 16 local Ambassadors in the aim of inspiring Adelaide’s Aboriginal communities to rewrite their own stories and give up smokes for good. His documentary film is available to watch at www.rewriteyourstory.com.au .
He said he became so addicted to cigarettes that he would go to the extent of picking up butts off the ground.
“Even smoking tea leaves or cardboard. . . just needing that thing of inhaling smoke,” he said.
“Being a smoker led me into smoking dope and the drug scene. When I look back at it. . . it was an idiotic thing to do.”
It has now been more than 30 years since Robert quit smoking, but he says he still carries with him the ill effects that smoking has had on his life.
“I lost teeth through gum disease because of smoking and now have no bottom teeth,” Robert said.
“I also developed asthma and had a lot of breathing difficulties.”
It took Robert about three times over a year before he could finally kick the habit.
A father of three children, Robert also currently he works for the Salvation Army in Ingle Farm helping young people with substance abuse problems.