First published April 2007

There are a few moments in time when I have walked into a foyer, into an industry do with my only pair of high heels on (I usually am seem in Blundstones or scuffed mary-jane’s: to the point where a friend of mine is convinced I have been the foot/shoe model for City rail’s “mind the gap before boarding” poster) feeling like I am ready to pounce into sparkling action, dazzling all in my path with my razor sharp wit. Other times I feel I have as much charisma as a beige plaid sofa left in an alley way, waiting to be marked by stray cats or claimed by desperate students.

Regardless of my beige sofa-feelings I embraced the day, and ventured to the b- Sharp Launch at Belvoir Street Theatre. Sort of feeling safe in the warm cave at Belvoir… also a little cautious I was tragically on time and sat quietly before the event warmed up. I am not completely sure how/why I received an invitation: I have stage managed a show a year (bar my time in Canada) for B-Sharp but I am not one to question why, just gratefully excited to be able to celebrate a season of new shows and perhaps indulge in a few tasty little canapés as they circle around a room of ferociously hungry (yet coy!?!?!) theatre people.

There was something overwhelmingly relieving about the faces in the crowd… besides a few sparkling faces I know well, this was not like walking into my resume… there were plenty of unknown faces. And I tried to put the names and faces to projects flashing up on the screen… delighted that the season heavily contains new Australian content.

Before too long a very efficient photographer had snapped a quick happy pic of me, the gorgeous and talented Helen O’Leary and he demure but bright eyed Fiona Butler which later appeared in the Sun Herald. I totally unaware, struggled into the office on Monday morning…to the joyful chirruping of the managers and the CEO who had noticed my grin in the “social pages.” And the dark blue feeling inside me twisting around in my gut, didn’t come from a late night of vice, but the question “Am I a wanker?”

Now, I am not going to claim, to have never been a total intellectual tosser on occasion. That would be a lie. The truth is, I absolutely love the theatre. I am not the sort of friend or colleague or friend who will say they will see your show, and hen not turn up. I am not he sort of person who will not go to the theatre, if I hear that the show is crap. In short: I will see anything, I will pay money to see any piece of independent theatre. I will also attend anything I am invited to. Perhaps good manners? Curiosity? Perhaps the hope that I might meet someone new and fascinating? Perhaps I am a sucker for a beautiful canapé invisibly presented by an amateur super model? Perhaps it’s excitement of the unknown. I am an experience junkie: I prefer events over possessions and the theatre is the perfect event: ever changing, always different.

Recently I saw Jonathan Gavin perform in the “Day in the death of Joe Egg”. I had the great priviledge to work with a few years ago and upon hearing he was dazzling the audiences at the Darlinghurst Theatre, I promptly booked two tickets. Whilst in the foyer, I also chatted to an actor I hadn’t seen around for 6 years, an actor I had recently met through the Short & Sweet Gala and another actor who is brilliant in more ways than many: especially since she is a lovely person. Gavin’s performance was nothing short of exceptional, his foyer presence, nothing but selfless. It was whilst I was chatting to him that I realized how much the theatre community is interconnected… and perhaps if we played the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon: it would ultimately show that we all know each other and will work with someone absolutely fabulous sooner or later… and we are destined to work in the same theatres at some time or another.

Another thing occurred to me. Recently I have had a new Canadian script I have been pitching called “F**k the Homeless” rejected nearly everywhere. (Yes, I can hear you laughing as you say “well, ummm Gus… the title is a bit… Well… COMPLETELY offensive!”) And though I was miffed that no one wanted to take this risk, I didn’t feel the need for unleashing my inner beast upon the artistic directors of these various companies. I did hear, however, that some people do. “WHY?” I wonder. “You want to work with these people, perhaps because you trust their judgement …why would you question it, just because their judgement doesn’t fall in your favour on this occasion?” Everything in the artistic world is based on opinion. And all good shows will have their time in the light (and even some duds too!)… but really, is it worth burning your bridge to understanding and new challenges, because of one little “no”? It doesn’t reek of longevity to me! After all, the arts community is what we make it. It’s what you choose to support on a day to day, week to week basis.

I choose to support people who are genuine and funny and kind. People who I will still like and want to talk to even if they never do another show again and s decide to buy a pretzel cart and climb the corporate pretzel ladder. I choose to support independent theatre which is new, Australian and made for an audience who is waiting to be entertained. I believe that many wonderful writers and performers and directors are no lesser people, just because they happen to be between gigs right now. Last year, one established director told me “don’t call yourself a director unless you are actually directing something.” Well I disagree. If you are a writer or director or actor, you have it in your very being you are preparing all the time. You can’t help it. Call yourself whatever you want, because you know what you are. And if you are truly an actor/writer or director.. your time will come.

And in so far is it wank or work? I offer this ambiguous answer (or is it?) from Mr. Shakespeare (I said I’d never quote him.. now I am .. what a wanker! But geez.. its perfect…and sums it up for me…)

“This above all – to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man”