On the Couch with Byron Bache

Byron Bache onc mainWho is Byron Bache?
A theatre critic, a director, and a professional, Olympic-level procrastinator. (And a person who is constantly explaining how those three things can coexist.)

What would you do differently to what you do now?   
Can I be Oprah? If it’s an option, I’ll take that. Failing that, I’d learn to be less of a control freak. And maybe not have given up a moderately promising career as a musician.

Who inspires you and why?
I keep telling people I’m going to get Joan Didion, Nora Ephron and Susan Sontag’s faces tattooed on my arm. I probably will. Susan Sontag’s ability to throw six or seven thoughts in the air like juggling balls, keep them moving, and catch them all gracefully still floors me. She’d probably smack me for calling her graceful, though. Nora Ephron is maybe the second funniest person to have ever lived (after Fran Lebowitz). She had a voice that was so unmistakably hers, so irreverent, and honest in ways that make a mess of your insides. She’s the original Lena Dunham. And I hope, by the time I’m 80, I’m even half as unafraid of the coldest, dustiest corners of my own mind as Joan Didion is.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Give Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair and Peta Credlin all the hugs they were denied as children, and hope it’s not too late.

Favourite holiday destination, and why?
A friend of mine has a tiny little house with no power or running water about half an hour out of Mansfield. It’s right next to a genuine, storybook quality babbling brook, and there’s no phone reception. And a ten minute walk down the road is the best passionfruit sponge you will ever have. I just spent a week in Noosa, which is the exact opposite of this. The Sunshine Coast has its charms too, but no amount of time spent on a picturesque beach in crystal clear water will ever be enough to distract you from the fact that the main drag has not one, but two Lorna Jane outlets.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I seem to be incredibly good at taking out-of-towners to Gin Palace. They have something like three-hundred different kinds of gin. Failing that, to the theatre. (Cue emphatic, borderline evangelical praise for the state and proliferation of Melbourne indie theatre.) The last time I took an interstate visitor to the theatre, it was a Sisters Grimm show. It changed both of our lives.

What are you currently reading?
I’m always halfway through at least three books. The pile on my bedside table has expanded into a secondary pile on the floor. And a tertiary pile on my desk. The book I had in my hands last is Donna Tartt’s incredible novel The Secret History – which I have technically been halfway through since 1999, though I did start again at page one this time around. Also on top of the pile: Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist and The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew by Eli Glasman.

What are you currently listening to?
The sound of my next-door neighbour screaming at her teenage children. I’m pretty sure she’s perfected the art of circular breathing. I’m trying to drown her out with Patty Griffin, a singer-songwriter who is – depending on which music painfully aloof publication you consult – either alt-country, folk, or something horrifyingly titled Americana. Right now it’s her track Making Pies, which is nowhere as novelty as it sounds. She’s like a less precocious Laura Marling who grew up singing in a gospel choir. Why haven’t you googled her yet?

Happiness is?
Milkshakes, and holding hands.

What does the future hold for you?
A long, slow fade into obscurity. Or an Emmy. Can I have an Emmy?

Byron Bache’s theatre career has spanned more than fifteen years. As a director, his work includes The Pavilion and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (Boutique Theatre), Crave (BCST), Oleanna (A&F), Songs for a New World (Variation Productions), West Side Story (A&F) and Chicago (SMSHS).

Byron has also worked extensively as a rehearsal pianist, and as musical director for artists including Belinda Wollaston and Sophie Carter. His work as a composer and lyricist has appeared on stage at Marian Street Theatre for Young People and the Sydney Cabaret Convention. Off stage, Byron is a theatre critic for Melbourne’s Herald Sun.

Byron is currently directing Diana Son’s Stop Kiss for Boutique Theatre – playing at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute: 22 January – 7 February. For more information, visit: www.boutiquetheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Byron Bache