This is a challenging time. Like many parents, I’m trying to figure out how to work from home and do all the things that are necessary for my job: read plays, feedback on scripts, contribute to programming, conceptualise a vision for a play, meet with artists and keep having all those important conversations with my peers – while co-parenting my two daughters who are four and two years old.
So there really has not been very much time for extra-curricular reading or watching. But I have been reading and watching more than I thought…
I’m a devourer of television series and comedy – since lockdown, I have tried to keep it light and revisited 30 Rock, an American sitcom set behind the scenes at a late-night variety show, which is available in full on Stan; Black Comedy on ABC, which is insightful, satirical and silly; Netflix’s Nailed It, because it makes me feel better about my own baking escapades; and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, because – well if you have to ask, you haven’t seen it! (The first six seasons can be watched via Netflix while SBS on Demand has the current season.)
On a more serious note, I watched Stateless on ABC and I’ve just started watching Unorthodox, the German-American drama miniseries based on Deborah Feldman’s autobiography Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. Both are suffocatingly thrilling.
Finally, just because my husband and I are perverse, we watched Outbreak, the 1995 American blockbuster about a pandemic! It was actually quite cathartic and so dated we laughed most of the way through.
It has been a flurry of activity in our kitchen as little hands have helped make cookies, playdough and cupcakes. I’d offer the recipes but it’s hard to tell if they worked. I do regularly make a spinach and cheese pie though, and swear by this three-ingredient short cut pastry.
Rather than tell you what I’m reading, I’m going to tell you what’s in the pile next to my bed: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales (which looks to be particularly pertinent to our times, focusing on how ordinary people endure when life turns upside down), Everywhere Everything Everyone by Katy Warner, The Life to Come by Michelle De Kretser and Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke. I will try to finish them before we are out of lockdown.
I am also reading lots of plays, new and old, and for a little inspiration have found myself drawn to speeches from leaders in times of crisis. I have found cold comfort in some words from former Prime Minister John Curtin in his address to the nation as Japan entered the Second World War:
‘I say, then, to the people of Australia: Give of your best in the service of this nation. There is a place and part for all of us. Each must take his or her place in the service of the nation, for the nation itself is in peril. This is our darkest hour… One thing remains, and on it depends our very lives. That thing is the cooperation, the strength, and the willpower of you, the people of the Commonwealth. Without it, we are indeed lost. Men and women of Australia: The call is to you, for your courage; your physical and mental ability; your inflexible determination that we, as a nation of free people, shall survive.’
Published on 28 April 2020