Who is Jane Montgomery Griffiths?
Not Vivian Bearing, my character in Wit, but I could have been her in a parallel life: both academics, both lovers of literatures, both believers in the value of poetry – but unlike Vivian, prefer humanity to research. I think Vivian would have found me an intellectual dilettante.
What would you do differently to what you do now?
Nothing – I’ve had a quirky, surprising life that’s turned out wonderfully and I’m very blessed. Perhaps I would have said to my younger self, don’t worry so much – oh, and that 1980s shaggy perms were never a good look.
Who inspires you and why?
My wife, my kids, my students, and the wonderful directors I’ve worked with, like Ben Pfeiffer, Adena Jacobs and Emma Valente, who push me to places I didn’t know I could reach.
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Oh, where do we start? All I can do is try to make small and incremental changes by hopefully inspiring and challenging my students to question the status quo.
Favourite holiday destination and why?
Definitely Greece, but too many places there to mention. My happiest holiday was this year, taking my kids around Mycenae and telling them myths of the Trojan War.
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Well, I’m a country chick now – I live on a property outside Castlemaine. So, I’d probably take them to the Wesley Hill Market or Castlemaine Craft Market on a Saturday, then a none too strenuous bush walk and off to a decent café for a leisurely late lunch.
What are you currently reading?
72 essays from my first years on What is truth in acting?
What are you currently listening to?
Every time I do a play, I have a sound track in my head as I’m learning lines or thinking about the part. For Wit, it’s Bach’s Cello Sonatas and Goldberg Variations – intellectual rigour and profound spirituality, just like the play.
My family, my home, and then once in awhile that extraordinary transcendental moment when you’re acting and you enter another spiritual place.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m happy in the present. I’ll leave the future to unfold and surprise me.
Jane is currently starring as Vivian Bearing in The Artisan Collective’s production of Wit by Margaret Edson, at fortyfivedownstairs until 17 September 2017. For more information, visit: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com for details.
Image: Jane Montgomery Griffiths as Vivian Bearing – photo by Pia Johnson