On the Couch with S. Shakthidharan

AAR-S.-Shakthidharan-photo-by-Ken-LeanforeWho is S. Shakthidharan?
I’m a storyteller from western Sydney with Sri Lankan heritage and Tamil ancestry. I work on the land of the Wangal people. My kids are teaching me how to be a good father. They’re pretty strict.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
If I wasn’t telling stories for a living, I’d probably be on a small scale farm somewhere near a body of water, making pasta and curries from scratch.

Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by the likes of Bruce Pascoe and Stacey Abrams. Folks who are prepared to make long-term commitments – whether it be through the land or the people they are transforming – to seed long-term change.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I believe every story told makes a difference. The thing is, if you aren’t conscious of it, then that difference may not necessarily be positive. I try to be fully conscious of the power of storytelling, and wield it to help audiences carry more easily the complexity of truth; to help them heal alongside other folks who need a bit of healing too. If I wasn’t telling stories, I wouldn’t mind helping a bit of tamed land get wild again.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
What even is a holiday, in these pandemic-stricken times? My partner’s family lives in remote NSW, and this year I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of visiting all sorts of glorious hidden corners in the Australian bush.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The serenity of a good Blue Mountains hike is hard to match.

What are you currently reading?
Essays by farmer and writer, Wendell Berry.

What are you currently listening to?
Alfa Mist; Rationale; Toulouse; Noah Slee.

Happiness is?
Time spent with the kids that is slow enough to soak up the miracle of it all.

What does the future hold for you?
I really don’t know. Covid has paused and unpaused and paused again several shows and films I’m writing. All I know is that at some point, they will be told. I’m glad that Sex Drugs & Pork Rolls, which I’m directing, can go ahead. It’ll be good to gather an audience in a dark space again, and tell some stories.

S. Shakthidharan is the Director of Sex, Drugs & Pork Rolls – which will be presented at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres as part of the 2021 Sydney Festival: 20 – 23 January. For more information, visit: www.riversideparramatta.com.au for details.

Image: S. Shakthidharan – photo by Ken Leanfore