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Interview with Andrew Bovell



My first theatre experience was… Acting in some American play at school. I can’t remember the name of it but it had the word moon in it. I was a character selling hotdogs at a baseball game. I had two lines. ‘Hot Dogs. Come and get your hot dogs.’ I said them but nobody heard. So I said them again, louder and everybody just looked at me.

If I was a character in a play I’d be... I’d like to think I could be John Proctor but I doubt it somehow.

I hate theatre when… it is exactly what you are expecting it to be. When it doesn’t surprise you. When it is too smug and self satisfied. But I love it when it moves you, when the language is breathtakingly poetic and the acting razor sharp.

Playwrights who inspire me… Harold Pinter. On accepting the Noble Prize for Literature he chose to be political and talk about something important. I am inspired by playwrights who stick their neck out in public.

The best line that never made it into one of my plays is... I can’t remember the lines that make it in let alone the ones that don’t.

My best or worst moment working in the theatre was... The worst. Opening night of Speaking in Tongues in New York. Fifteen minutes into the play the man sitting in front of me said loudly ‘Who wrote this shit?’ ‘I did’, I answered. And he turned around and said ‘Well don’t do it again’.

Heroes or villains - whose side are you on… I don’t accept the dichotomy.

My last big laugh was about… farting on my son… I know, shameful, juvenile, embarrassing to admit but I laughed and laughed. It was the look on his face. Not what he was expecting from his father.

My last big whinge was about… my kids not watering the vegetable garden when I was away. Probably payback for farting on one of them.

The role of theatre in 21st century Australia is… I have no idea. I did my share of pontificating about the role of theatre last century. I’ll leave it to others now. Besides, I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to write it.

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