On the Couch with Debra Oswald

Debra-Oswald-photo-by-Alex-VaughanWho is Debra Oswald?
I’m a storyteller for whichever audience I can find – writing for theatre, TV, novels, and now jumping directly onto the stage myself. I was the creator of the TV show Offspring, so yes, I am the woman who killed Patrick.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I would love to have been a teacher. Or maybe a doctor. Or a farmer. The thing is, most writers are so greedy for experience that we want to live a thousand different lives – that’s why we imagine our way into fictional ones.

Who inspires you and why?
Teachers in disadvantaged schools. When I have the chance to do writing workshops with kids in western Sydney, I’m always moved by the devotion of many of the staff – stoic, joyful, resourceful, loving teachers who do their work without enough recognition or support.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Hopefully all of us can find ways to tackle the climate crisis and we need some radical redistribution of wealth. As a writer, I’d like to think that storytelling can make at least a small contribution to the world – to challenge us, console us, and remind us what’s precious.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
It’s got to be Mexico for the overwhelming friendliness, drama, history, food, art, landscape, all-round intensity, and the chance to practice my fractured Spanish.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’d start at the MCA, then walk around the Quay, through the Botanical Gardens, to the Art Gallery of NSW, then hike up the hill to see a show at Griffin. The day would offer art, the ravishing harbour, flowers, dodging the ibis in the gardens, and then finish with a new Australian play.

What are you currently reading?
I’m on a women-authors-only policy right now and especially seeking out great novelists who passed me by. I just finished Foreign Affairs, a funny, wise novel by Alison Lurie, who won the Pulitzer for it in 1984.

What are you currently listening to?
I’m listening to a mix of Colombian cumbia tracks – joyous percussive music that sends me dancing around the house. It’s hard to be downhearted when cumbia is playing. Then when it’s time to calm down again, I listen to ASMR tracks. (Okay, some people think ASMR is weird and culty but trust me, it’s not. I find it very serene.)

Happiness is?
My family. My handsome kelpie, Clancy. Cooking a huge delicious meal for my friends. Live music. Finding opportunities to be useful in life.

What does the future hold for you?
In April, I’ll be throwing all my energy into doing the show, Is There Something Wrong With That Lady? for Griffin Theatre Company. I’ve never done anything quite like this so who knows?! After that, my focus will be on developing scripts for a TV version of my new novel The Family Doctor. Fingers crossed please, everyone.

Debra has wrtten and performs in Is There Something Wrong With That Lady? for Griffin Theatre Company at the SBW Stables Theatre: 13 – 24 April 2021. For more information, visit: www.griffintheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Debra Oswald – photo by Alex Vaughan