On the Couch with Lachlan Philpott

Lachlan Philpott oncWho is Lachlan Philpott? A playwright, director, teacher, advocate, stirrer, dag and dog person. Fascinated by The Amish, I love travel, history, cake, disco dancing, Chinese food and talk back radio. As a child I used to like getting dressed up as my Gran and wandering the streets shaking a rolling pin.

What would you do differently to what you do now?    Learn when to keep my thoughts to myself. This strategy has got a lot of my peers a long way. I would also like to open a floating schnitzel house in Sydney with bundles of edelweiss everywhere.

Who inspires you and why? Strong women inspire me because they give me hope that the world could be different. They are everywhere but I name Aung San Suu Kyi, Arundati Roy, my mother, my mates Alyson Campbell, Patricia Cornelius and Tanika Gupta. These are strong, fearless sassy people who still care about little things.

What would you do to make a difference in the world? I try to do one thing each day that helps someone else or at least justifies my burden on the world by giving something back. That might mean helping someone or cleaning something up or… Sometimes it is harder than you would imagine to give back but I think we should be thinking about it more and spend less time on ourselves.

Favourite holiday destination and why? India. Its extremes blow your mind more than anywhere else I’ve ever been.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why? I’m not a fan of Sydney. It is too showy, superficial and up itself to embrace sincerely. But I do love the zoo. It has the most spectacular views and memories for me. And I think they have made it a much kinder place now, though cooking meat on site is something I don’t comprehend. Why is there is a burger bar right next to the giraffes?

What are you currently reading? I am reading a lot of plays by Asian playwrights at the moment.  This is because I am teaching a play writing program called Lotus which is a cool new initiative by PlayWriting Australia to engage more diverse voices in writing for stage. The thing is that I had to sit with those writers right from the start and admit that I am not Asian. I lied to the selection panel in the phone interview to get the job and told them Dad was Japanese. No. That’s not true. Clearly I am an interim until the right person comes along. So I just read a play by a Singaporean playwright names Huzir Sulaiman. He is an inspiring dramatist.

What are you currently listening to? ABC news radio. The dulcet and lispy tones of Christopher Pyne. What a great mind. Listening to the wisdom spewing from that mans sweet lips gives me a hell of a boner.

Happiness is? Friday night on a weekend away with a bunch of people you love and could talk to forever.

What does the future hold for you? I am excited about working with MKA on the premiere of The Trouble with Harry. They have assembled the most amazing team. After that I embark on a Fulbright Scholarship so I am travelling to The US to work with San Francisco theatre company ACT on a new play with a stint at the Lark in New York and some time in Kansas working with a crew of MFA students on an adaptation of my play Bustown. I am excited to have such an amazing opportunity. I know I have a lot to learn in the US. I also hope to continue making theatre in Australia as well.

Lachlan Philpott is a Sydney based playwright, and Chair of the Australian Writer’s Guild Playwrights’ Committee. His plays include Bison, Bustown, Catapult, Colder, M.Rock, Silent Disco, The Chosen, Truck Stop and The Trouble with Harry.

His play, Colder was the winner of the R.E Ross Trust Award (2007), while Silent Disco was the recipient of the Griffin Award for Outstanding New Australian play (2009), winning Finalist GAP PROJECT Aurora Theatre Co. USA (2010), and shortlisted for Best New Australian Work at the 2011 Helpmann Awards.

As a playwright Lachlan has collaborated with many of Australia’s theatre companies and arts institutions, and has taught extensively at theatre companies and institutions around the world. As the inaugural Australian Professional Playwright Fulbright Scholar, he will travel to the USA in late 2014 to work at The American Conservatory Theater San Francisco, The Lark New York and Kansas State University.

Lachlan’s play The Trouble with Harry will receive its Australian premiere as part of the Melbourne Festival at the Northcote Town Hall from 17 October. For more information, visit: www.melbournefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Lachlan Philpott