On the Couch with Gail Louw

Gail Louw Arts Review On the CouchWho is Gail Louw?
I am a playwright. I was an academic. I am based in Brighton, England and was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I am in the incredibly fortunate position of doing exactly what I want to do! At a certain age, and after many years of working, I find myself in this great state of Freedom! And my goodness what a privilege that is. I can do whatever I want to do! And, not to be too smug about it (sorry for all those with jobs they hate) I had a great job when I was working for others too.

What inspires you and why?
There are so many inspirational people in the world; people who achieve greatness, people who achieve against the odds. There are great international people such as Mandela and Tutu – but I am going to talk about just two people with whom I am incredibly impressed. Both of them are Peters. The first is Peter Tatchell – an Australian who has lived in the UK for many years and who is a political activist of the most courageous, intelligent and wide ranging way, yet manages to retain a high degree of modesty and integrity. The second is my husband Peter, who whenever he is woken, wakes up with a smile.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
At the age of about 14, I believed I could change the world, or at least change the apartheid state I was living in at the time. Then under Margaret Thatcher, a level of apathy resulted because of the deep seated impotence realised by many on the left. My sphere of impact was clearly to be on a much more miniscule level, and yet that became the most important of all – the influence I have on my children and grandchildren.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love traveling to different places. I am very different to those who desire a second home and go back to it at every opportunity. But I do love going back to places I lived in – so now going on holiday to South Africa is always exciting, and I love going to Israel where I lived for two years in my late teens. At the moment I am holidaying in New Zealand and Australia, and apart from the horror of getting here, it is a great joy.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to and why?
Brighton is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city with some lovely spots. It is also (apparently) the gay capital of the UK, or Europe (depending on who you talk to). There are some wonderful villages and places in Sussex, a gentle county in the UK, and Amberley Village is one of my favourite places; a real old fashioned cute olde-worlde village of thatched cottages and tea rooms.

What are you currently reading?
I am reading Junot Diaz’s book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Diaz is a wonderful Pulitzer Prize winning author who seems to be largely unknown. His sentence in one of his short stories, The half life of love is forever precisely depicted what I was saying in my latest play, The Half Life of Love – which begins its tour of the UK in May at the Brighton Fringe Festival.

What are you currently listening to?
Sam Atkins is a fantastic singer and musician who is based in Nelson, New Zealand. He is another one who is surprisingly not well known – but you heard about him here first!

Happiness is?
Happiness is fleeting and often difficult to notice other than in retrospect. So for me it is important to catch those moments and enjoy them. Unhappiness is also fleeting, and it can often help to remember that.

What does the future hold for you?
I hope more of the same. There are some wonderful experiences and opportunities that I am so pleased to have; Blonde Poison at the studio of the Sydney Opera House, and later a different production of the same play at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in South Africa. My play Shackleton’s Carpenter will be produced later this year, partnered with the Royal Geographical Society and tour the UK. Later this year, Duwayne, another important play for me will be on tour. So life continues to be a great journey, and luckily I have my husband and family along for the ride.

Back by popular demand, Gail Louw’s Blonde Poison returns to The Studio – Sydney Opera House: 28 April – 12 May, before playing Melbourne’s Southbank Theatre: 1 – 11 June 2016. For more information, visit: www.blondepoison.com.au for details.

Image: Gail Louw