On the Couch with Rosemary Johns

Rosemary-Johns-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Rosemary Johns?
Playwright, Vice-President of Women Playwrights International, actor and director. I grew up as a child in a seaside town in Wales, went to a boarding school in England, spent seven intense and strange years in America and fell in love in Australia. I’m a maverick

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I am fascinated by people who have lived in the same place all their lives, who have deep roots, deep connections to place. I wonder how life would have been if I’d done that. But then I’d be speaking Welsh and looking at different stars. But to see the Milky Way, is heart stopping, I love possums outside my window and the rainbow lorikeets in the eucalypt trees. I am not sure who the other person would be if I’d stayed at home.

Who inspires you and why?
David Attenborough for his love and passion for the natural world, teaching us to treasure and respect it. Julian Assange as truth teller to power, his desire to break open the dark state. The Dalai Lama for teaching us about compassion in his exile from Tibet. First Nations storytelling over thousands of years with its immense power.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
As an actor I work as a simulated patient, to help train medical students and trainee doctors and nurses in communication and diagnosis, so they can “heal” the patient. There is an ancient Greek notion of drama being cathartic for audience, which is why there is a healing magic in theatre too. Doctors save our lives, so happy I can contribute to that in a small way. I’ve also survived the deadliest conditions and diseases, over 20 years, which is very life affirming!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Greece, the Greek islands, Delphi, Corinth. Dionysius, Persephone, ritual and theatre. Being in those amphitheatres, is potent. Plus, I love Greek food. I once lost my money and travellers cheques on a beach on Ios. I was crying in the café that overlooked the beach, the owner gave me food and a stranger found and returned my money pouch to me. Greek people are generous and hospitable.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
La Mama, the best independent theatre in Melbourne, showing new work. La Mama burnt down and the community and government came together to rebuild it. It’s risen like a phoenix from the ashes. After a show, have pizza and wine on Lygon St. NGV. I love the NGV, the water wall, lying on the carpet in the Great Hall looking up at the stained-glass ceiling. Penguin Parade, what a joy that is. Chill out in the Botanic Gardens. And trams, nothing like tram rides to see the city in all its diversity.

What are you currently reading?
A Mermaid Singing by Charmian Clift and The Trial of Julian Assange by Nils Melzer.

What are you currently listening to?
Rüfüs Du Sol, DMA’S, a favourite song is Client Liaison Foreign Affair, featuring Tina Arena, Mozart and Deva Premal and the Gyuto Monks of Tibet.

Happiness is?
Friends, I treasure my friends. Coffee and cake with friends, sharing stories. Walking along the conservation Zone at Altona Beach, with my partner Peter. Black swans, ibis, herons, on the water makes the world right again. Getting that play on stage. Being in the rehearsal room.

What does the future hold for you?
Life is like a birthday cake, the candles flare, then what? Next year’s candles look like a possible production of Birthday Book of Storms in Romania. Developing a work with my Pakistani/ Australian collaborator. Oh yes, and writing another play.

Rosemary is the Writer and Co-Director of Birthday Book of Storms – which will play the La Mama Theatre Courthouse from 17 – 28 August 2022. For more information, visit: www.lamama.com.au for details.

Image: Rosemary Johns (supplied)