Thomas Keneally Speaks! (or blogs, that is…)

Maybe time the obscure antipodean author spoke. This is Tom Keneally here, Irish-Australian meat in the Passover unleavened sandwich. Let me say without qualification from the start: I owe Theater J. When Ari first contacted me he was aware of the howling imperfections of my play and was anxious to know that I wanted to work, that I wanted to put in the drafts and, at the age of seventy, to become a student of theatre. It was a reasonable request. It was also a delightful one.

Have you ever had that dream of being an adolescent and in class again, and you feel both a little embarrassed but, above all, excited to re-enter the golden synagogue of your youngness again and to be in student mode? For me that’s always a pleasant dream and now I live it in waking hours, with Sister Hannah and Brother Ari as my beloved (if not always immune from the nicknaming by the class of one irreverent old Australian) teachers. And in the theatre, Dan DeReay has my play zipping along in rehearsal.

What I feared was that I might have written the sort of multi-scened play in which the darkness between scenes is full of the disenchanting clunk of stage furniture being moved. But Dan has the action gliding slickly scene to scene. The pace of Dan’s direction is everything I could have wanted.

We’re about to do the final polish of Act 2, and I look forward to the creative interaction again. Above all, I have learned to avoid in my writing the theatrical four-letter word – “Look!” uttered at the start of a character’s speech. I have to admit I considered “Look” a fairly innocuous word until now. How innocent can a man my age be?