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Interview with Vanessa Bates

My first theatre experience was… playing King Herod in a nativity play when I was 6. My mum made me a robe out of blue crepe paper and my big line was “Kill all the babies.”

If I was a character in a play I’d be… probably not King Herod as I feel I’ve done him now. I’d probably like to be some nameless lurking bit-part who transforms after twenty minutes into Someone Very Important. Or maybe a vampire. A really cool one.

I hate theatre when… I come away feeling like that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back. Also, when I’m running late to get there and I don’t have time to go to the loo beforehand. A night when both things happen is a waste of a babysitter.

Playwrights who inspire me... surprise me, teach me and usually also make me laugh.

The best line that never made it into one of my plays is... going to appear in my next play. Or the one after that. Because nothing’s ever wasted. Especially not cracking good lines.

My best or worst moment working in the theatre was... way too many of each to distinguish. But then, maybe that’s a good thing.

Heroes or villains - whose side are you on… the side with the best story.

My last big laugh was about… attempting to break in, very delicately, to an infamous Bordello Queen’s deserted house along with two other decidedly unburly playwrights –such was our emotional connection to the play we’re co writing about Sydney gangsters in the 30’s. We couldn’t get in but we’re fairly sure we found her wooden spoon in the yard – there’s a scene at least in that.
My last big whinge was about… the cost of parking at the Sydney Theatre Company. And the cost of parking tickets at the Sydney Theatre Company.

The role of theatre in 21st century Australia is… to transform, to inspire, to create a shared experience, to bring light by exposing the dark, to give voice to the multitude of stories from a nation…just as it is in any century, I reckon.

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