On the Couch with Tom Davis

Arts Review On the Couch Tom DavisWho is Tom Davis?
Tom is a Canberra-based playwright. He is also a University of Melbourne fellow and foreign aid / foreign policy analyst.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would not do anything differently as I have a pathological aversion to regret. It probably should be classified as a disease under DSM-5 … although it seems a necessary condition for gaining pre-selection in either of the major Australian political parties.

Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who can make a living from working in the arts in Australia. And I have double the respect for those who are making a living working in the arts in Canberra under the Sydney-Melbourne flight path. It can be hard yakka. I have yet to try it!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Build a time machine and go back to the 1930s and shoot Hitler, Stalin and Mao. I imagine it’d make no difference whatsoever, but I could probably make a fortune by licensing the time machine.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Camping at Murramarang National Park on the central NSW coast. Sea. Trees. Wildlife. $20 a night. What’s not to like? In the late ‘70s, Doug Anthony ran the country for a couple of weeks each summer from his holiday caravan on the coast, and I think I can see the attraction.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Whatever’s playing at The Street Theatre.  A great venue. And the dialogue is generally better than what you get up the hill at Parliament House.

What are you currently reading?
Have just finished re-reading Chekhov’s Three Sisters. His control of dialogue and sub-text can still astound me. His characters will seem to be talking about something inconsequential, when actually they and the world they live in is falling apart. Other times they will be making an impassioned speech, and no-one is listening or cares and life continues as before.

What are you currently listening to?
My three and half year old son has developed a bizarre liking for Van Morrison, so Brown Eyed Girl seems to be getting a good run at the moment. It’s amazing what four chords and a good voice can do.

Happiness is?
Family. It’s hard to get the balance right between my creative life, my academic and work life, and my family life. It seems to be balanced for the minute, and that is largely due to my having a wonderful wife and son. It pays to acknowledge when it’s all good.

What does the future hold for you?
More writing. A lot more writing.  Another play, The Faithful Servant has been picked up by The Street and will be put on in the second half of 2016. I also have a play-writing commission to fulfil for the Canberra Youth Theatre in 2016.

Tom Davis is an Australian playwright, and has a PhD in political science and worked for a number of years as a lecturer, researcher and consultant in international development and public policy.

The Chain Bridge is Tom’s fourth full play, and the first to be produced by The Street Theatre. It was written with the assistance of the Street’s Hive playwriting program and First Seen performed readings seasons.

Two of Tom’s earlier plays were produced in Melbourne under the direction of Alice Bishop. Last Tango in Brunswick (2000) was a kaleidoscopic work about love, sex and heartbreak. After the War (2002) explored the battles faced by Australian women who, after being nurses in WWI, returned home to become second-class citizens.

The Chain Bridge opens at Canberra’s The Street Theatre on 21 November 2015. For more information, visit: www.thestreet.org.au for details.

Image: Tom Davis – photo by Lorna Sim