On the Couch with Anthony Skuse

Anthony Skuse Arts Review On the CouchWho is Anthony Skuse?
I’m a theatre director and teacher. My production of Simon Stephens’ Birdland has just opened at the New Theatre. It’s the fourth Stephens play I’ve worked on, and I have to say that it’s such a pleasure to work with such great writing.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I don’t think I would do anything differently, except learn to manage money. But all my choices have lead me to do what I do and I love it. At times I feel blessed to have the life I have with the people who are in it.

Who inspires you and why?
All those people working so tirelessly for marriage equality. Michael Kirby: he is a wonderful example of how to engage with the world with grace and intelligence. There are a number of artists who also inspire me: Derek Jarman for his writings, his garden and his political engagement, Virginia Woolf, Patrick White … it’s a long list!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
The question is overwhelming and if I knew the answer to that I would do it. All I can really do is to live my life as thoughtfully and truthfully as I can.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Rome or Paris in the winter. Both cities are so beautiful in that winter light. The village of Saint-Jean-de-Fos in the south of France where a dear friend has a house. We were over there this time last year and it was like heaven. Or anywhere with my husband. Sometime weekends at home together are the best: chatting, music, silence, doing ordinary stuff.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Either the coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi, or the walk that meanders through the back lanes of Annandale, through reclaimed wetlands, to come out at parkland round the Glebe foreshore. The view of the city that seems to rise out of the harbour is glorious. The mix of the working harbour, joggers, kids and dogs gives you a wonderful sense of how people live here.

What are you currently reading?
The Master by Colm Tóibín, which is his novel about Henry James. As I read it, I’m reminded how much I liked James and that I should read more. Like James, Tóibín is beautifully understated. It’s odd to be reading about James while the marriage debate is going on. It reminds me that such a thing was unimageable for him, as it still was when I first came out a hundred years later.

What are you currently listening to?
I’m working my way through Wagner’s Ring cycle. I listen to it in the car when Troy’s not there. He thinks there is something reprehensible about Wagner other than its length. The agitated opening of Die Walküre took me by surprise, and I’m looking forward to less of the troll in Siegfried. Prior to that I was listening to podcasts from Oxford University on Shakespeare, which I loved so much I wrote a fan letter, well email, to the lecturer. I also have a recording of The Cinematic Orchestra to listen to that Benjamin Freeman has lent me. Ben and I have worked together on all my shows this year.

Happiness is?
Hanging out with my partner. Finding that quiet space. Teaching. Rehearsing, always rehearsing, my partner tells me I’m always much happier when I have a show.

What does the future hold for you?
There are two, possibly three, new scripts in the works that I’m very excited about.

Anthony’s production of Simon Stephens’ Birdland is currently playing at the New Theatre until 4 November 2017. For more information, visit: www.newtheatre.org.au for details.

Image: Anthony Skuse (supplied)

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