On the Couch with Eric Gardiner

Eric-Gardiner-photo-by-Lachlan-WoodsWho is Eric Gardiner?
A playwright from Melbourne. His last play, Bounty a larger-than-life biopic of Queensland Premier and bikie gladiator warlord Campbell Newman, took Melbourne Fringe by storm, with critical acclaim from The Age and ArtsHub. Eric spent the last four years working with Red Stitch Actors Theatre to develop his newest work, Prayer Machine, which opens this week.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’d probably ruin the one thing I enjoy most of all – cooking for my friends and family – by pursuing it as a career.

Who inspires you and why?
My sister Astrid is a doctor up in Sydney and I couldn’t be prouder of her and the work she does – whenever I feel like I’ve had a hard day at the glitter factory, someone who meets life and death on a daily basis can bring you right back down to earth.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’d give young people more opportunities to learn and grow outdoors!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
The summit of Mount Bogong – hiking in the Victorian High Country defined my childhood, and it’s my dream to share that experience with my own children one day.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I like to take friends on touching coming-of-age journeys into the wilderness to find dead bodies and confront cheap dime-store hoods, inspired by the 1986 documentary Stand by Me. In a perfect world, Rob Reiner comes along and tells us where to stand and how to say our lines.

What are you currently reading?
I’m slowly wading through the 1056 pages of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde – he wrote Snow Crash, one of my favourite books, and although it’s not quite up to that same high watermark it’s the perfect blend of smart and stupid for these times.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been doing a few final rewrites on Prayer Machine in the last week, and my secret weapon is the song that plays in Ocean’s Twelve when Vincent Cassel dances through the laser field: Thé à la Menthe by La Caution. I listen to this over and over again until I hate myself enough to get the job done.

Happiness is?
Slowly creeping back!

What does the future hold for you?
They say past performance is no indicator of future success, but let’s be honest: I’ll probably spend the next three or four years compressing a load of nonsense-coal into a pure, dramatic diamond.

Eric is the playwright of Prayer Machine – which is currently playing a world premiere season at Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre until 28 November 2021. For more information, visit: www.redstitch.net for details.

Image: Eric Gardiner – photo by Lachlan Woods