I once watched a huge python in the rafters of my tropical house slowly shed her skin. Back and forth she slithered for ages. She brushed herself against the exposed wooden beams over and over until her raggedy old skin got caught on a piece of splintered wood, then she just let that skin rip and fold backwards and ripple clean off her body. It was like watching a stocking being sexily peeled off a woman’s leg.  Out she slithered, fresh and glistening.  Well pleased with herself, she was. A new beginning.Read More →

I was listening to an interview on ABC with Kate Mulvaney, an Australian playwright, and she was being asked about her small-town beginnings, her childhood and how that has shaped her work. Small-town country life, being bullied, an early near-terminal illness, long periods of hospitalisation, splintered relationships—these and other profound factors added up to an award-winning storyteller. It got me thinking about how writers are put together, what makes them want to write, and what gives them this enormous insatiable love of stories? Read More →

  So, this is Christmas…. and what have you done?  Never was there penned a more loaded line in a Christmas song. John Lennon and Yoko Ono knew the gravity of the line, having written it in 1971, at the height of a dreadful and intractable war in Vietnam, and after years of political activism to encourage peace. That opening line is an interrogation of our personal morals that stands true and straight today, enough to bring stinging tears to my eyes the very second I hear them. As Christmas songs go,  Baby It’s Cold Outside, it ain’t.Read More →

A good few years ago, an Australian dramaturg I know stated the obvious (dramaturgs are good at that, and, damn it, someone has to do it); love first, then disaster, he said with power and panache as if it were a profound elemental truth of the world in general. I’m going unpack what the statement means, and then I’m going to point out the obvious—we don’t use this piece of advice enough when we are writing.Read More →

Memory is a funny thing. It defines our motives. It helps us define our lives. What we can remember is what we can pass on. What we remember is our truth. But here’s the kicker. Writing true stories, whether they be of your memories or the memories of others as told to you can be a real challenge. Here’s some stuff I’ve noticed about it.Read More →

Last thing a creative writer wants to think about is form and structure and dull, logical things like that, huh?  I know.  You just want to  c. r .e. a . t. e. and get it all out onto the page and be marvellous, darling. This is good news. I’m all for getting your creative gig on. Let that flow happen. Let it gush forth!  But once all the gushing’s done, it’s time to put your logic hat on. oh boy.Read More →

There is a drive toward “Excellence in the Arts”, and there probably should be. I do find the phrase slightly bothersome though.  It’s just that ‘excellence’ in creative expression is utterly relative and subjective.   You could go to the best opera with the best opera singers in the best opera house in your best opera frock or suit, expecting ‘Excellence with a capital E from Art with a capital A’, and yet walk away feeling empty and unmoved.  You could go to a community project with all kinds of ‘non-excellent’ theatre practice going on, yet be moved to tears and uplifted to heaven. SoRead More →

A friend of mine is leaving town. She’s going to live at the other end of the country. I’ve known her, and worked with her on and off, since 1994. She is still reasonably young, and she’s off for a fresh start. Tonight some of her nearest and dearest friends organised a huge farewell theatrical event in which all kinds of people could go up on the stage and make an impact statement—big, small or ludicrous— about how this artist had changed their lives. The resulting bonanza made it clear; artists can and do leave very big footprints within their community.Read More →