pollyIn the last few weeks (since I disappeared from blogging) I’ve had deadlines looming over my head and enough doses of harsh reality-check to last me a while. Believe it or not, the less appealing parts of the last few weeks have actually served my writing well, which I will explain in good time.

Now that half the deadlines have passed and I feel a lot more sane about the final two, I’ve returned to theatre-going which I have missed immensely. I forgot how inspirational a great play can be.

I wasn’t sure about Polly Stenham’s That Face, only because I have an in-built cynicism towards anything that involves hype. This play is the latest international blockbuster that is steadily doing the rounds of Australian theatres and those all over the world. Add to the mix that Stenham wrote it when she was 19, and you have the proverbial wildfire from which to spread.

I was pleasantly surprised, moved and excited by That Face. Of course, I found moments of naievty in the work, but on a whole I was impressed. In comparison, when I was 18 I was writing about the existential angst of a middle-aged businessman. Whether I had personally experienced it or not, the chaotic and rotten core of a family structure in ruin would not have crossed my mind as something I could legitimately write about, at that time of my life. I was especially intrigued by the complex exploration of the mother-son relationship, one which we see too little of.

In short, Stenham has a ballsyness about her which I love and wish I had more of. I’ve heard that her second play, Tusk Tusk, to be seen later this year directed by Shannon Murphy presented by STC and atyp, is even better. I’m sure she’s got a long career ahead of her.

Today’s inspiration is the writing of a young and dogged mind. This interview with Stenham from March 2009 sheds more light on her upbringing, how she handles being a very young woman with an escalating career and what inspires her own work.

And just to balance out our feelings of hopelessness, take inspiration from Pam Gems, who started writing plays at 47 after having four children, and today at age 85 with a walking cane, is still churning them out.

Happy writing,

Jo