On the Couch with Christine Croyden

den-arts-review-on-the-couchWho is Christine Croyden?
I’m a playwright and lyricist, and occasional journalist from Melbourne.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Not much. I could have done without some of the struggles of my youth so if it were possible to speak with my younger self I’d tell her to stop over-thinking, lighten up and laugh more often.

Who inspires you and why?
I tend to draw inspiration from those around me so I’d have to say my three adult children, their choices and ideas, even if they are sometimes a bit crazy. From afar, Patti Smith since 1976 when I first heard Horses as a very young teenager and Susan Sontag for her incredible clear thinking. People who are passionate and engage with the world are the ones who inspire. Complacency is the enemy.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I can’t stop the suffering of children in Syria or make Pauline Hanson’s voice disappear so I continue to write plays. For me, writing a play is about taking a critical position in relation to some aspect of culture and with my upcoming play The World without Birds I hope people will walk out of the theatre and discuss it, even if only for five minutes. Art matters as it unlocks imagination and can make a difference. And, although most of our politicians and policy makers don’t share this view, the reason Melbourne is so rich and vibrant is because of art and the many people in this city who believe it’s important.

Favorite holiday destination and why?
I’ve lived in many different parts of the world, and next year my partner and I are off to Paris for six months. However, when I come home I’m always keen to get down to the surf coast, walk along a wild, windy beach and swim in the Southern ocean.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I take them to the Vic market, my favorite local cafés, some good independent theatre or whatever festival is happening, and have dinner in my garden. If there’s time we drive to Barwon Heads to walk along the estuary and see the amazing bird life and swim at 13th beach.

What are you currently reading?
Musicophilia by the late Oliver Sacks, it’s about his work as a neurologist and the healing power of music on individual patients.

What are you currently listening to?
While I’m working I listen to classical music. Bach is a favorite, Cello suite no 1. is good for concentrating. And, at the moment, The White Mouse: The Nancy Wake story. I’ve spent the last three years writing the script and lyrics for this musical and the first cast recording CD is soon to be released so it’s on replay at my place.

Happiness is?
At the moment it’s walking in the sun. I’ve had my leg in a brace since August following an accident and the brace has just come off. I’m also happy to see my new play The World without Birds onstage, and I’ll be even happier if audiences enjoy it.

What does the future hold for you?
Who knows, as you age time seems to accelerate so I plan to make the most of it and keep active, continue writing and doing the things I enjoy with the people I love.

The World without Birds: a musical fable plays at the La Mama Courthouse: 26 October – 6 November 2016. For more information, visit: www.melbournewriterstheatre.org.au for details. Bookings: www.trybooking.com

Image: Christine Croyden