Ahead of Life is Impossible opening this week at the Old 505 theatre, writer and director Paul Gilchrist opened up about the indie theatre scene, ten years with sublenuance and the magic of Broadway.

Joy - You recently celebrated ten years since your first production, that is quite an achievement, how have you found the indie theatre scene faring over the last decade? What advice (if any) do you have for up and coming producers?

 Paul – Yes, it’s exciting to pass the decade mark, and to think back on the over two dozen original plays we’ve produced. And in that time we’ve had the privilege of working with so many brilliant artists, many who are vital players in both the indie and mainstage theatre scenes.

Advice for up and coming producers? I can only say what has worked for Daniela Giorgi and me. We don’t produce either showcase theatre or stepping stone theatre. The purpose of each production has not been to get somewhere else, but rather to share something beautiful with the audience we have before us.

 Joy - Your current show Life is Impossible – has been described as ‘kissing and philosophy’ as if the two should somehow be mutually exclusive. How would you describe the show for the uninitiated?

Paul – Set in New York, it’s the story of a young Australian woman enchanted by the magic of Broadway, seduced by a land where she believes dreams can come true, and falling fast in love with a handsome American serviceman. But it’s 1942, and the war can’t be long forgotten. The play, which we first produced in 2010, has been said to be “kissing and philosophy” because it has this bittersweet romance, but also a humour-driven exploration of the power and the danger of fantasy.

 Joy - You are in New York and can only see one play during your stay – what do you see?

Paul – Maybe a good old fashioned musical. It’s not my go-to-genre, but there’s something absolutely fascinating about the fact that the golden age of the musical coincided with the Great Depression, WW2 and the post-war threat of nuclear holocaust. What’s going on here? Are musicals escapist fantasies? Or do they encapsulate the very optimism that enables people to push past despair and build a better world. Life is Impossible plays with this tension between delusion and dreams (and does it with some snappy little song and dance numbers, too)

Joy -  If you could time travel to any point in the past, when/where would you choose to go?

Paul – I have it on good authority that the creative time machine is set for Ancient Rome – and the story of Atilla the Huns’ fiancé – in a bloody (funny) skewering of unacknowledged privilege. At subtlenuance, we love our historical dramas.

You can’t accuse us of being parochial. We believe the There and Then is often a great way to get both your head and heart around the Here and Now.

But first the 1940’s; an era of incomparable challenges and yet also of breathtaking possibilities to create a new world of freedom and justice. Seem familiar?

Joy – Definitely familiar! What is next for you and subtlenuance?

Paul – Life is Impossible only runs for 6 performances, and we’re thrilled the Old 505 has given us the chance to revisit it. The original cast in 2010 were brilliant and it’s great to have found a new team every bit as exciting. But in just over a week it will be over…… and we’re back to dreaming our next theatrical world.

 Joy – Sounds great! Thanks for doing theatrechat, I’m looking forward to the show!

Life is Impossible written and directed by Paul Gilchrist, is on at the Old 505 Theatre from 18 – 23 Feb, for more information and tickets see: https://old505theatre.com/shows/life-is-impossible-1575953395.html

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ArtsLab is Shopfront’s annual emerging artist program which provides 6-month residency space, an industry mentor and season to showcase new works. In 2019 we supported 6 emerging artists to create 5 new works. The season includes 3 theatre works, an installation and a video artwork.