On the Couch with Paul Watson

Arts Review Paul Watson On the CouchWho is Paul Watson?
Well most importantly and proudly, I am a Husband and Father with another little one on the way! Due in July! Very exciting! Career wise; I am an Actor, a Director, a Musician, a Singer and generally someone who likes to entertain and tell stories and give people the chance to feel amazing things. I try to do this to the best of my ability every time, which probably means I’m too serious most of the time. I’m passionate about friends and family and food, music, wine, and my home and about my son Campbell and giving him everything he needs to be the amazing little boy he is. I’m very lucky and feel very loved.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I honestly have no idea! I think it would still be something to do with production, maybe. Perhaps Events Management or something similar. I’ve been approached to do several jobs over the years – teaching, management, sales, etc etc – but the one key component that is an obvious reality about me is that I like to constantly be inspired and I like things moving and changing. Theatre, particularly directing, offers me that constant development and change. The opportunity to work on something, build it, let it grow to production level and then move onto the next project! I get a lot of joy out of the rehearsal process. It is my favourite part of any production.

Who inspires you and why?
As a director I’ve been inspired by many brilliant people for many different reasons. Most recently working alongside Des Macanuff and John Tiffany, two Tony-Award winning directors, was equal parts ‘fangirling’ and a chance to just sit, watch, absorb and learn. Working on a production with these two is worth like months in a directors course. Its first hand glimpses of creative genius and exploration and understanding their individual approach but also, its watching them deal with each department head-on on a one-on-one basis that really separates them from the flock.

As a young director I always tried to throw my hat in as many departments of production as possible – lighting, crewing, design, sound… as a musician I played in orchestras and as an actor, I walked the boards… and I did this because I always believed it was the understanding of multiple departments that allows you to speak the jargon and language necessary to get everyone to buy in to your vision. These two boys were masters of that. I feel very lucky to have worked with them both.

One of my first mentors was Peter Fitzpatrick. I had already done a lot of directing when I first worked with him as an actor, and under his direction he introduced me to another way of thinking that sat so well with me. His approach wasn’t necessarily aesthetic, it was intelligent and honest and it focused on relationships between people. It focused on the conversation and not the presentation and it focused on external commentary. Since then my productions seem to blend that approach of honesty with more minimal but attractive aesthetics that make an external commentary about the story, situation or moral… rather than sinking it inside some staged realism.

As an Actor I’ve always been inspired by Gene Wilder who I think is incredible and as a musician its always been Paul McCartney. I’m sure there are a million others though.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Well I think we all know the big ones, peace, equality, wealth… and not just monetary wealth, food etc etc. There are so many… cures, affordable medicine and healthcare etc etc. But if I think honestly about it I’d say that I’d want Art and Culture to be as important to teaching the youth as Sport and Academics are in this country. The Winston Churchill quote (which is not really accurate, but has become its own sort of bohemian folklore) about when he was asked to cut funding to the Arts to fatten the war effort replied “Then what are we fighting for?” True or not, if that was said or wasn’t… it just rings poetry in my ears.

I’d love to see our kids getting access to more creative classes on more creative subjects. And even subjects such as a Manners Class, or teach them Spacial Awareness so they are more aware of reading situations surrounding them and can look outside their world on occasion. Or even Imagination Play and harnessing ideas etc etc. One of the attributes I love about my son is his ability to imagine games, play fantasy and create amazing stories. I don’t want my kids to be cookie cutter kids, I want them to excel in academics sure, but I also want to see them be allowed to explore their individuality and enjoy being children without the pressures of the real world. Not just yet!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
London, without a doubt. Vegas or Edinburgh a close second. I’ve traveled to London almost every 2nd year since I was 16. It’s my second home and I just love it. If I had enough courage, and a decent job offer, I’d convince my family to move over in a heartbeat! I proposed to my wife in London, outside Abbey Road Studios. Long story short, she had written a message to me on the wall years previous when we just missed being in London at the same time. Lucky my name is Paul!

We’ve spent a lot of time together in London and last year my son came over for the first time and it was amazing to take him around town and do all the attractions again as if for the first time. Plus you have soooo much theatre! Vegas was one of our honeymoon destinations and we loved it, plus we went back two years ago on a Paul McCartney concert pilgrimage. Amazing! Edinburgh – I worked there last year for six weeks and just loved it. It’s definitely my kind of town, my kind of weather and being there during festival time is electric.

My dream holiday however is a foodie holiday along the ‘Med’ starting in Morocco and heading East past all the big cuisine locals towards Jerusalem. That’s the dream holiday.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Well I think we have an amazing Zoo in Melbourne. And we have incredibly beautiful golf courses too. But as an owner of Melba Lodge Bed and Breakfast in the Yarra Glen, you pretty much can’t go past the Yarra Valley for anything. If you’re interested in food, wine etc you are sorted. Wildlife, nature etc you are sorted. Thrill seeking such as sky diving, ballooning etc you are sorted. Relaxation, Day Spa, Gold Courses etc SORTED! It’s an amazing part of Victoria.

What are you currently reading?
I’m knee deep in scripts at the moment so I’m spending most of my reading time working on them. I have tick, tick… BOOM! on rotation with We Will Rock You, which are both my current projects. Before these two I was working on Saturday Night Fever so was online researching Disco and the Bee Gees and before that I was working on a new Australian Play called The Process. I guess the last thing I read that was not a script I was working on was some Bio Novels on Hitchcock, Gene Wilder and Joan Baez.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Bee Gees whilst working on Saturday Night Fever and The Beatles and McCartney always get a spin in particular because it’s my sons favorite too, so it’s a bedtime and driving from the backseat request!! Once – The Musical Soundtrack and Ed Sheeran get a lot of plays. I guess I’m about to be swamped by Queen music which is not a bad position to be in, but for the next two weeks I still have Disney Concerts to do! It’s tough! Hardly!

Happiness is?
Getting to a stage where you have successfully completed that massive list of tasks and jobs to the best of your ability and now have nothing pressing or urgent to do so you can cuddle up on the couch with your family and your two dogs and watch something Disney and relax.

What does the future hold for you?
The next twelve months are all about tick, tick… BOOM! And then moving onto We Will Rock You and at the same time preparing for the birth of our second child and trying as hard as I can to balance those two mammoth tasks ahead of us. My family means everything to me and many of us who work in this industry have a lot to balance out and we work very hard.

It’s not easy, it’s never easy, but the rewards at the other end are amazing. Beyond the next twelve months, aside from producing and directing a few projects that are currently on hold due to We Will Rock You, nothing is really in focus other than my family.

Paul is currently directing Pursued by Bear’s production of tick, tick… BOOM! at Chapel Off Chapel: 21 April – 1 May 2016. For more information, visit: www.pursuedbybear.com.au or www.chapeloffchapel.com.au for details.

Image: Paul Watson