St John’s College has recently redefined my concept of disgust and this rad girl, Eleanor Gordon-Smith, has written a pretty excellent rant about it.


Dear Colleges,

Do you understand that my dog has a better understanding of basic societal rules than you? Rules like “don’t almost kill people” and “don’t shit on the furniture”.

She’s twenty one years old. The same age as you. And not once has she set fire to a couch or forced someone to drink poison.

If you’re an old boywith a law practice and a yacht who took your boy home after he was suspended in March, if you’re a college kid staying silent right now, I want you to know that my deaf, blind Jack Russell cross is a better behaved member of society than the person you’re protecting.

George Pell and Michael Spence think you’ve gone too far. One ordained squillionare telling you you’re insular and anachronistic has got to hurt, but two?

You’ve pushed your fair share of boundaries this year. Image

I have walked into…

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split-fork crisis

I’m going through a pretty substantial decision-crisis at the moment. This is in regards to next year and what should be done with it. There are two clear-cut roads and I can only really walk down one of them (and I cannot tell at this point the extent of their divergence – whether I’ll end up a continent or just a couple of streets away at the end of it).

So, in lieu of talking this through with someone (which seems to only confuse me) I am going to submit the possible options to this cyber-page and see whether anything bounces back at me.


Begin, and complete, my English Honours at Sydney University. A couple of months ago I sat down and wrote a list of 25 things that I have to have completed by the end of next year. One on the list was to get Victoria Burrows as my Honours supervisor. Vic Burrows is a total gun of a woman – profoundly interested in trauma literature and so has an unnaturally heavy social conscience, gets her students drunk at the end of semester, wears denim suits, etc. I decided that I would prefer to work with Vic than write my thesis on what I originally intended (which was to look at how the idea of death is treated in the work of Keats – pretty different to trauma theory). And so, I went to her about six weeks ago with a rough idea of exploring the tension between the need to report the events of the Holocaust and the notion that being able to articulate such horror is impossible and should be treated with silence out of respect for the dead. And she said yes.

Now, the two things in favour of doing my Honours, particularly next year:

  1. Next year is Vic’s last at Sydney University.
  2. Writing my thesis on this topic would provide the perfect theoretical underpinning for the one woman show that I am in the process of writing. It is about my grandmother. I never met her (she died a month before I was born) and my interest in her is all-consuming. She fled Nazi Vienna in 1938, when she was 17 years old, alone to London, where she supported herself for seven years before she met my grandfather. What a woman.


Make theatre.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have just finished directing my first independent production. This has been the single most important event of my life to date (that’s not saying much, really, as the first 21 years, from what I can tell, seems to be filled with mountains of significance, which, in retrospect, are mole-hill-sentences, such as ‘I finished school’, ‘I lost my virginity’, or ‘I read On The Road‘.) I find it slightly perverse, and brilliant, how revolutionary chunks of your life can be boiled down to a handful of words: I produced my first indie show. Rather than blathering on about it, the bottom line is: I’ve built up a pretty heady head of steam and I’m afraid that taking a year out to do Honours will leave me with the theatrical equivalent of a damp mirror.

These are the things that could happen next year:

  1. This past year I have been working at Griffin Theatre Company running the Artist Card program and associated blog. Through working in the office I have gotten to know Belinda Kelly, Artistic Associate at Griffin and part of the two-man team (along with director Paige Rattray) who run Arthur, a theatre company (their most recent production was The Sea Project for Griffin Independent.) About 2.5 months ago they asked me if I would be interested in working with Arthur next year (they have about four shows lined up and a bunch of developments) and in exchange I will be allowed to use their development space down at The Rocks as well as use Arthur as the auspice company for 2013 grant applications.
  2. Then about two months ago a playwright and a very dear friend approached me about directing a full length show of hers. I’ve always been slightly in awe of this writer and so proceeded to drop the dumpling I was chopsticking at the time. I realised in a lightning-split-second that this would be the play that I could develop with Arthur.
  3. There are two items on my things-to-do-list that are directly meshed with each other. One is to finish writing the one woman show about my grandmother (‘My Name is Truda Vitz’). The other is to perform it. I’ve set myself the challenge of having it written by the end of the year with a public showing of the product (I’m terrified of performing so this is the most effective way that I can see of sucking it up and getting on with it). If I was not doing Honours next year I would have to put this show on.
  4. Only this morning, I got an email from another director with a link to a brand new grant. You have to be in the first five years of practice to be eligible and you have apply as part of an arts organisation. Again: Arthur. And I now have two shows in the pipe-line that could do with grant-money.
  5. The BBM Ltd with PACT Drama Award. BBM Ltd is partnering with PACT to receive and select a Drama Award winner who will receive $7,000 to travel to the United Kingdom for professional development experience. The kicker is that you have to apply before you turn 23. I turn 22 next April. And I’ve heard London has some alright theatre companies.
  6. Obviously, if I made it over to London, travel would be a thing. Particularly as this playwright friend may have a development of said play in New York, which would be pretty great to drop in to.

So. They’re the two roads in front of me. I would obviously be able to do some of Option Two as I was doing Option One. But not the other way around. And if I did Option One I would not have the time to mount a full-blown production, two of which are currently in the pipe-line. Holey moley. I think I’ll let it percolate for a while.


There was a girl in class today who was giving a presentation on Susan Howe’s ‘The Midnight’. Her name was Wren and she wore a bright blue and green dress, almost consciously adopting her namesake’s feathers. As a prelude to her presentation she announced that she had been late to this semester of work because she had been responsible for organising her father’s funeral.
“My father died suddenly and unexpectedly…I decided to tell you because I can’t seem able to stop talking about it.”
It was as though saying it, in this classroom of strangers, was a reconfirmation of the fact.
She had polished-plum-deep nails and a lip-stud.
I felt gripped by an impulse to ask if she was OK but was caught by the absurdity of such an idea – of course she isn’t OK.

Maybe our trigger to ask such inadequate questions is a mask for our desire to show concern or empathy – it’s just that language is being inadequate again.

She said something so beautiful – ‘you should treat me as a really suspicious reader as I tried to use this text to work out how to reconstruct the pieces of a person after they’re gone.”

the angels

I went backpacking the summer of 2010/11 with my best mate and discovered, in Vienna, both Schiele (along with Klimt) and Rilke at the same exhibition. Some curator had made the genius stroke of pairing the poet with these artists and I will never forget reading these words on one of those unsuspecting plain white boards, which try to articulate each painting’s point:

Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Angels”

They all have lips profoundly tired
and lucid souls without a seam,
and yearning (like a sin desired)
moves sometimes slowly through their dream.

They nigh resemble one another
and walk His gardens silently:
so many intervals that gather
in God’s majestic melody.

But only with their wings extending
do they call forth the heaven’s gales:
like sculptor God Himself were bending
the pages, and His hands were mending
the book of dark creation tales.

Translated by Walter A. Aue