On the Couch with Alistair Baldwin

Alistair-Baldwin-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Alistair Baldwin?
Alistair Baldwin is the playwright of Telethon Kid at Malthouse Theatre, a sexy little satire on medical consent, disabled agency, and the medical industrial complex. It’s his first play – he mostly works in TV (e.g. writing for shows like The Weekly & Get Krack!n or directing on the SBS Digital Original Latecomers).

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I did this internship thing at the CSIRO when I was in high school, working with a scientist to genetically modify wheat so it was more resistant to fungal pathogens. I ended up getting quite good at running PCRs – if I stuck with it I probably would have made a killing running back alley Covid tests.

Unfortunately all the pipetting gave me hand cramps so it wasn’t to be. Then I started my screenwriting degree, wrote a short film set at CSIRO that was eerily similar to The Last Of Us, and realised I enjoyed science more as an aesthetic world than an actual world.

Who inspires you and why?
Working on Telethon Kid, I read up a lot on Jerry’s Orphans – an activist group made up of former poster kids from the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in the states.

The group’s name is a play on how disposable ‘Jerry’s Kids’ felt after they stopped being cute charity cases that never talked back to the abled adults in charge. There’s an incredible doco called The Kids Are All Right about crashing the live telethon tapings in the 90s. I suppose I’m inspired by how much they pushed back on being leveraged as inspiration porn.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
End the existence of billionaires – by taxing them, ideally, though I’m willing to do whatever is necessary.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My dad lived in the Solomon Islands for a few years, and I still think about the month I spent there when I was 13. To this day I’ve never been anywhere with more delicious seafood in my life.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
With MIFF on the horizon it’s hard to think of anything to say other than ‘a screening at The Forum’. That said, no matter when you visit there’s always some festival going on in Melbourne. Comedy Republic is the place to be during the Comedy Festival. Or I’ll just drag you to Bar Margaux for martinis and frites. Also the Malthouse publicist will kill me if I don’t loosely mention ‘the theatre’.

What are you currently reading?
The offices at Malthouse have an incredible library of plays. I love reading plays – you can knock one out in like 2 hours. You feel so productive. Right now I’m reading the script for the best play I ever saw at Malthouse – Declan Greene & Zahra Newman’s adaptation of Wake In Fright from a few years ago.

What are you currently listening to?
Right now I’m blasting Sugar by Vigilantonie on repeat. It’s a modern banger but with such a campy throwback vibe. It’s basically if Stacey’s Mom was about landing a sugar daddy.

Happiness is?
Winter ending. It’s honestly embarrassing how affected my mood is by the weather. I’m basically a plant.

What does the future hold for you?
Everyone should keep an eye out for Erotic Stories – a horny little anthology series coming soon to SBS that I wrote an episode for.

Alistair’s debut comedy, Telethon Kid, will be presented at the Malthouse Theatre from 28 July to 13 August 2023. For more information, visit: www.malthousetheatre.com.au for details

Image: Alistair Baldwin (supplied)