On the Couch with Anthony Skuse

AAR-Anthony-Skuse-photo-by-Gez-Xavier-MansfieldWho is Anthony Skuse?
I’m a theatre director and teacher. I’m working on Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code for Mardi Gras at the New Theatre. Like everyone else I’m having to adapt my working methods to accommodate the unexpected consequence of living through a pandemic.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would have loved to have been a dancer, but I didn’t think that was ever on the cards growing up in Bondi during the 60s and 70s.

Who inspires you and why?
First up I’d say my first year acting students from the year that was. They are an amazing bunch of young artists who remained curious about the world and the art form under very difficult circumstances. Then I would say the Matisse exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW – it was the lightness of his marks on the canvas that I found very exciting and intriguing. It was something about the elusiveness of the form that reminded me of what I love about theatre – how time or place can be evoked by the simplest of gestures.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
If we could undiscover plastics or learn to live without them at the same time as working out how to dispose of them and clean up the mess that we have made. For that to happen I would have to magic the political will in our politicians to take action.

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. It might indeed be 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?
Now that I’m living in the Inner West, I’d take them down to the Goolay’yari (Cooks) River and follow it down toward the sea. I like how it places you in the midst of all these other lives.

What are you currently reading?
I have been doing reading around Alan Turing beginning with Simon Fenwick’s The Crichel Boys which has been revealing of how gay men went about living their lives under the radar. The Hedgers’ biography and Dermot Turing’s book about his uncle. Finally, Colm Toibin’s Love in a Dark Time. He writes about tracing the secret dotted lines that run through literature and reveals hidden desires. It is that secret dotted line in Turing’s life that places his homosexuality central to who he was.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been listening to Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. Britten and Turing were contemporaries and it’s interesting to me how both men were navigating a legal and class system that privileged them as white men but condemned them as gay men.

Happiness is?
Hanging out with my husband. Finding that perfect bowl or chair which he will tell me I don’t need. Teaching. Rehearsing, always rehearsing. My husband tells me I’m always much happier when I’m working on a show.

What does the future hold for you?
Perhaps a dear friend’s wedding in Mexico at the end of the year.

Anthony directs and designs Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code for the 2022 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at the New Theatre: 11 February – 5 March. For more information, visit: www.newtheatre.org.au for details.

Image: Anthony Skuse – photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield