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Interview with Raimondo Cortese

My first theatre experience was...  making and performing with a puppet soldier in a class with Nigel Triffitt when I was two and my brother Adriano was seven— we still have the puppets.

If I was a character in a play I’d be...  terrified.

I love theatre because...  in theatre there’s nowhere to hide.

I hate theatre when...  it becomes stuffy and pretentious.

My best moment working in the theatre was...  watching the opening of Holiday with my partner who began experiencing labour pains with our second child—certainly gave the whole thing a special tension.

The worst thing to happen to me in the theatre was...  back in 1994 during the opening of Lucrezia and Cesare. The actor playing Lucrezia was squatting over Cesare’s face pretending to piss when a drunken man burst onto the stage via the stage door. He didn’t seem to realise where he was and started mumbling to them (and even offered Lucrezia a hanky!). He was soon followed on stage by an irate taxi driver— apparently he was after his fare.

I write plays because...  I enjoy telling stories via spoken language.

The most important thing I’ve ever done was...  stay in a relationship and become a father.

The best line that never made it into one of my plays is...  ‘It’s cocoon time’! It came from Strawberry in Features of Blown Youth when he sees everyone huddled on the couch—but the actors were moved apart and so the line didn’t make sense.

My latest play was inspired by...  seeing images of Phuket Beach, Thailand, one day after the tsunami of 2004 when holidaymakers were seen sunbathing amidst the carnage of the previous day. Dead bodies lay bloated on the foreshore as sunbathers took in the rays only metres away.

If I was to start all over again as a playwright, I wouldn’t...  try and flog my scripts to big theatre companies; I would form an ensemble and self-produce— but that’s what I did this time.

The role of theatre in 21st century Australia is...  probably the same as it’s always been—for performers to connect with each other and their audience.

When I hand over a script to a director I’m...  excited, but also embarrassed.

My last big laugh was about...  my 16-month-old son. When he first saw some apes at the zoo, he pointed at them and yelled ‘Dada.’

My last big whinge was about...  why people bother with Facebook—these things are supposed to make life easier, but they take up all your time!

The best production I’ve ever seen was...  probably Guilio Cesare by Romeo Castellucci, or maybe it was Einstein on the Beach by Robert Wilson, or Ed Thomas’s Songs of a Forgotten City—the list goes on…

My greatest theatre heroes are...  Odon von Horvath and Pina Bausch.

My next big project is...  with Ranters and is called Intimacy.

My next personal project is...  building a tree house—at school I never got higher than an E in carpentry.

My worst holiday experience was...  staying overnight in the Naples Central Train Station with my brother when I was sixteen and broke. There were literally piles of shit everywhere, one of which I managed to tread in; I jabbed my foot with a used syringe; and I spent the entire night fending off hookers and junkies who were after cigarettes, money, shoes, anything.

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