The Shifting Heart opened on Saturday night at the Seymour Centre, director Kim Hardwick talks to thebuzzfromsydney about what makes a classic, and how shared experience can bring anyone together.
Joy – ‘The Shifting Heart’ is being touted as an Australian ‘classic’ – is that hyperbole or is it really a classic and, if yes, then how so?
Kim - I haven’t read the word hyperbole since before the S.M.H was a broadsheet!
In his 14 definitions of a classic Calvino writes, “a classic is a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers”. ‘The Shifting Heart’ is as relevant today as when it was first written. The names may have changed but the actions of those who want to exclude and divide are still evident.
Joy – Wow, I must be more behind the times than I thought! It is depressing to think that communities still have an ‘us & them’ mentality, making this play very relevant still. How do you think the play will help people better understand challenges that migrants face?
Kim - By encouraging us to think about what is similar. I was talking to one of the actors about our childhoods and the similarities were astounding. We may have come from different backgrounds but we both loved and fought with our siblings, we both were embarrassed and enraptured by some of the actions of our parents and we both experienced anxieties and insecurities from growing into a world that appeared so foreign. We are so similar but also so different. Something you could say about anybody from anywhere.
Joy – Richard Beynon’s work is still celebrated here yet he left Australia in 1947 and only came back for a couple of short spells. Do you think that the Australian cultural cringe that artists use to face still exists?
Kim - Yes and no… sitting on the fence! ‘Yes’ because we are still having to place resources and energy into actively encouraging funding bodies and philanthropists to participate in the development and production of Australian stories, and ‘no’ because at least we’re having that discussion. There is a plethora of creative talented artists in Australia and, while I think the cultural cringe may have abated, there is still the pull for overseas validation. To be honest I don’t think that can be erased until we come to terms and start valuing the indigenous culture on our own soil… but that’s a discussion for another day.
Joy – What drew you to this play?
Kim - It’s the story of some of my best friends and it’s also the story of my father. He is a ‘good Australian’ who struggles with the notion that people from other cultures can contribute and enrich this country in a meaningful way. While his intentions of inclusivity are well meaning, his actions are often lacking. Some of my friends are those people who struggled with a simple thing like, “can I eat that different smelling sandwich for lunch?” or “should I deny my odd sounding name?”. On a different tact, I also thought it would be a wonderful vehicle for Tony Poli. Actually all the characters are beautifully drawn and, I can only imagine, a dream for all the actors to tackle.
Joy- What is next for you?
Kim – Next is something totally different: an Irish play titled The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh, which will be performed at Kings Cross Theatre.
Thanks so much to Kim for taking the time out to ‘chat’, for more information on ‘The Shifting Heart’ and tickets, see: https://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/the-shifting-heart/