Writers Q & A

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

Are you interested in writing? Want to know more about more about A View From Moving Windows process? Then you should definitely come on to the A View From Moving Windows performance on Wednesday night (24th of October). It will be followed by a Q & A session with our very entertaining writers. Make sure you book early as this performance is likely to sell out fast!

Book tickets here.

 

Pip Smith

The amazing Pip Smith, founder of Penguin Plays Rough, has written us a blog entry!

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

About three hours ago I was on the train coming back from the airport. At central, this guy in a suit sat next to me and started talking just as I was punching out a text. He said, “I have just realised my job doesn’t make me happy.” His eyes were slightly yellow, and i wondered if he had been drinking. I said, “what do you do?” “I look at discrepancies between shipping lists. Logistics. I work for a Korean company. I want to work for an Australian company. In Korea we have it all wrong. In Australia the emphasis is on being happy and relaxing. In Korea the emphasis is on being strong.” I said, “I’m not sure you got that right – about Australia.” At Wynyard, an elderly businessman sat next to us, so we had to squeeze right up against the window. I asked the Korean man, “When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?” He leaned in towards me and whispered, “a monk”, I said “sorry, what?” he said “a monk.” He lifted up his wrist and showed me the bracelet he was wearing. “I’m Buddhist. When I was younger, I visited a temple and saw Buddha’s face. It made me so calm. His face – it wasn’t warm or cold.” “It was neutral?” “Yes. Are you a Buddhist?” I said, “No. I’ve never really understood the whole ‘letting go of desire’ thing. It’s always struck me that desire can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Desire can motivate you. And attachment. Attachment to your children, surely that’s a good thing.” He said, “I see what you mean, but I think you’re confusing desire and compassion. Love and attachment. You can watch your friend die and you feel a great amount of distress. You watch a beggar die and…” He shrugged “maybe you feel bad only for a little while. You think your friend belongs to you, but he doesn’t.” I was stunned. How did he know Tim had just died? “So, what’s your major?” He asked “I’m sorry?” “What do you study?” “How did you know I’m a student?” “I can just tell.” The businessman sitting next to us shifted his newspaper, pretending to read it, but he hadn’t turned the page in some time. After a pause I asked, “Well, can you quit when you go back to Korea? Can you become a monk?” He said, “No. My family.” “Ah, I see.” “My family cause me distress.” “Distress??” “They want me to have babies. But I don’t want to marry.” I said, “Oh yes! I know about that.” And we sat in silence. At North Sydney the aisle of people re-configured itself with muted apologies. As we passed the next stations, he told me about the moon, that at the full moon you can attend tea ceremonies in temples in Japan – and that when you drain a cup, you clear your mind. He told me he’d studied martial arts in Hong Kong because he loved Bruce Lee and that he’d visited India and learned that they came up with the number 0. He told me that a mango grows the way it grows by a chance meeting of sun and rain and other things, and that it also starts from zero. That everything is a product of its context. We were standing by the pond at St Leonards station for about 5 minutes while he started telling me that we are cheated by the world because we can’t see the stars during the day, even though they are there the whole time. I’m not sure what he meant by this, but he was so illuminated by what he was saying I decided to walk with him in the direction of the place he was staying. Turns out he was also staying in Greenwich. He told me that heaven is right here, and that you shouldn’t turn the past into a cliche, and that our minds are full of the future so we miss out on the present. He turned and asked me, ‘do you believe in platonic love?’ And I said, ‘yes.’ And he laughed and said, “Ah! You understand!” When we reached the intersection of Greenwich Rd and the Pacific Hwy I had to leave him. We shook hands. He asked me my name, I said “Pip” He said, “I am Rocky. Rocky Mountain,” and he walked down Greenwich Road.

Rocky Mountain, thanks for the excellent conversation.

Sam Atom Stewart

Sam Atom Stewart has written us a blog post on this special of special days! Sam is a writer who currently living in the south west suburbs, and keeping a daily commute that stretches to Bankstown & the city, Sam is a well established train commuter and has loved watching ‘A View From Moving Windows’ develop, bringing poetry to to the often mundane experience of rail travel. 

Trains are impassive. They don’t wait and they’ll take their time if they need to.
They are a number of adjoining boxes with rules that deliver you places. Sometimes when they promised they would.

I don’t drive a car. And I have a lot of places to be that expect things of me. So I live on trains.

Almost every day I embark, quickly sniff out my territory, and dutifully wrap my bubble tight around me. My smart phone, bag and parcel, blank face bubble which shields the primal part of my brain that hates this. All the closeness to other strange animals I don’t know and can’t truly predict. And then I am mostly switched to another channel for the majority of the journey. However, intermittently, I do notice something worth seeing. Someone’s sparkle peeks through to touch me. Stimulate my curiosity. I think it’s easy to fall in love with people on trains. Momentarily. Get taken by a certain angle of them.
The carriage is a strange place. A war zone at times. Of egos. Of social acceptances.  What is acceptable to you? Will you eat? Drink? Conduct your mobile conversation? Clip your finger nails? What’s your limit for PDAs? If you’re both quiet… how far will you go? Would you have the gall to light up?

It is a shell of a place. You fill it with yourself. All your moods and thoughts and dramas. And everyone else’s’. But, stand or sit next to the right person and something interesting might happen.

I had a day like that. A  moment. Just this year. A journey with someone special.
So. There we were. Standing. Facing each other in the crowded space. And we stood. And we shook with the vibrations of the carriage. Then one smiled and the other stepped closer, their bubbles merging.

Hands lightly resting on hips and wrists. Forehead on forehead. And… lips, just so damn gently, on lips.

My eyes lock on your eyes. Then close. Catching the moment just as it is. Breathing into it. Opening it up. Growing a tentative landscape around it. Delicate. Soft. Unfolding and building.

And I can feel it. Deep and wide and tender. All the love my heart thinks it’s capable of. What is this? Is this the train? Is this you? Is this us?

My mind wandered to our cell mates. Their scandalised looks? The clack of the train on the tracks. But then I let them fall away. Our world is better.

We are the pulsating core of this moment. We become everything. This moment is made of cinema. Breath and touch and time ebbing away by inches.

We have stations only. Stanmore… ”(breathe in…) ”Newtown… ”(breathe out…)”Macdonaldtown ”(breathe in…) ”Redfern… ”(breathe out…) ”And then it’s over. You pull away. You disembark.

I dreamily survey the terrain. Gauge the atmosphere. All seems fine. Unaffected. How bizarre.

The train continues on to Central, still seemingly impassive. The people too, seemingly apathetic. And I, seemingly calm and quiet. But I’m not. I’m sparkling.

Teik Kim Pok

Theatre-maker, performance artist and A View From Moving Windows writer Teik Kim Pok  has written a poem for the blog!

*Lucerne not Lausanne*

Où venez-vous ?
*
*
*Kuala Lumpur via Hackney *

Où allez-vous ?
*
*
*Leh…uh…loo..Lake Loo San*

This platform, s’il vous plaît
*
*
*Mercy thankyouverymuch*

*…8 hours later…*
*
*

嗨呀!* How come no lake one?*

‘My folks, my sis and I on a train bound for Switzerland from Paris in
1986′ -Teik Kim Pok

If you like his style then why not come to Pop-up Bride (Looking for Insta-Groom)? Pop up- Bride is an immersive performance project taking place at Marrickville Festival on Sunday October 21st that will surely generate discussions about the role of marriage today!

Miles Merrill

Miles Merrill is the creative director of the literary arts organisation, Word Travels. He is also a writer, performer, facilitator and event co-ordinator who combines poetry with theatre, experimental audio, hip-hop beats, stand-up and, occasionally, political confrontation. This is an extract from a three part group poem that was performed at The Riverside Theatre as part of a Sydney Festival show in 2005.

Train Wars

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

Part I

(Imagine us all crushed together on a train moving through the crowd as a clump, leaning when we turn.)

Every morning we form a multi-screen sightseeing machine.

From Home – (All repeating the following line together to a crescendo until Miles turns an imaginary nob) 

To Bossland- where the grey pigs play, living another man’s dream.  (All chanting like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory oohowee oh oooh oh)

In between is a network of clogged veins with a CBD heart.

I am a cell living in a vessel. Pump through the circulatory city on a peak hour vein.

My name stuck in the tracks

Written in the cracks

Rolling in the gap

Sea to city

Wombarra to Bondi

Parramatta to Kuring-gai

past Blue Mountains

I bust from a finger

a spray of blood into the bush. 

(Miles runs from the group as they spread in straight lines throughout the crowd.)

Every morning you ride a serpent

over the bones of buried people

their foreign words float in your ear

Wombarra-Wombarra-WomBombaderry-Nowra

Next Stop.

Ghosts haunt you through familiar suburbs

(Chanting) Baramada Baramada Next Stop.

Don’t these trains chanting place names

mock you?

If sorry is your only reply, guilt is implied.

Every morning a new trial to sleep through.

And here come the grey pigs (I sit and close my eyes)

Want more? Go to Follow That Sound next Friday ( if you can’t come to A View From Moving Windows opening night). Follow That Sound is a tour through the wild lanes and ancient gutters of The Rocks. Spoken-wordsmiths perform and magic happens! 

 

Melita Rowston

Melita Rowston is a playwright, writer and a director. She used to be a painter in Melbourne. She is about to catch a variety of trains through New York, Paris, Budapest and her most anticipated journey – from Dublin to Galway, to haunt a hundred year old stone hut on the Aran Islands and write a play about ships and love. She plans to make a website about herself when she gets back. Melita recently had her play Crushed on as part of New Theatre’s Spare Room Season.

The Experiment

He jerks me into his wet chest, slides his face across mine and kisses me. There’s the smell of his raw leather jacket, weed, beer and the taste of something chemical. Through the tangle of his hair, I can see the red headlights of the traffic on repeat as they plunge down Flinders Street. He pushes me away. The traffic revs its collective engine impatient for the lights to go green. He’s staggering like a rock star, the intersection his stage, but there’s nothing impressive about this performance. I glance at the station clock – nearly midnight.

‘We’re going to miss the last train!’

The chains of his biker boots jangle on the bitumen as he struts before the beast that is the restless traffic. The driver nearest us flashes his headlights. We could be at a disco. He lunges at the windscreen. The driver sticks his head out the window, his face an angry shadow under his baseball cap. Then the lights go green. And that’s when it really starts to get messy.

I try to drag him across the road. He pulls me back into him and growls into my neck, ‘Let’s get knocked up by the traffic. Let’s end it all now in a blaze of glory!’

The try-hard Goths watch us from the shadows of the Burke and Wills statue while Burke studies the map that failed him. The hands of the station clock hit midnight.

The experiment is failing.

We met on the last train to Frankston, as it hurtled past a string of stations from which girls my age had recently been abducted. I was cradling my dog-eared copy of The Female Eunuch and becoming appropriately angry at The Patriarchy. He was slugging bourbon from a Smurfs thermos and staring at the boobs on the front cover. We were both ignoring the guy behind us vomiting into a box of BBQ Shapes. Our knees rubbed against each other as the carriage took the difficult turns. When the train plunged into the darkness of a depression era tunnel, he put his hand on my thigh and said,

‘What’s a eunuch?’

I laughed. Because I thought he was being ironic.

I have a rule about trains. If someone talks to me, I pretend I can’t hear. I don’t talk back. I do everything I can to dissuade a chat. Trust me. On trains, the talking thing always ends badly.

He rolled up the sleeve of my flannel and traced his phone number along my arm until I knew it by heart. Surprisingly, I let him. When we came to his stop, I walked him to the door. He stood on the platform and stared right into me. As the train tried to leave, he held the doors open, looking like Axl Rose – but with Slash’s hair. Over the beeping and the shouts from passengers, he pushed a wet five dollar note into my stomach,

‘Here’s your winnings. ‘Cos I bet you won’t call me.’ Large eyes like storm water drains.

As the train pulled out of the station, I watched him walk into a cyclone fence and search for a handle as if it were a door.

A few days later I called him.

It was an experiment, see. I usually spend summer with the blinds drawn. Emerging at dusk when the garage door becomes cool to touch, I paint til dawn or when the Nescafe shakes set in. But the night heat was turning my oils to shit. So I’d taken to the trains on the air-conditioned lines, circling passages of The Female Eunuch with my red pen. ‘Women have very little idea how much men hate them,’ it swam in bleeding ink as he put his hand on my thigh. Yet there was something about those quietly desperate eyes…

I hate Top 10 Summer Anthems. I hate empty summer streets. I hate the way my dark clothes absorb the heat. I hate beach towels slung over balconies and front yards full of cars. I hate waking up on someone’s rumpus room floor listening to heated fumbling from Matt and Sarah or David and Kate. I hate this city in summer. Summer is when psychopaths get restless. I should know, I’ve ended up in the middle of Flinders Street with one.

‘You promised me a beer and a bit of Def Metal, not eternal damnation!’ I scream in his ear. So he collar ties me. And as the yellow clocks tick twelve ‘o’ five, the last train to Frankston pulls out of the station and the police arrive. I wonder if we’ll make the news.

Sometimes when a guy bellows ‘Boobies!’ at The Female Eunuch, I think of him and his dance of death in the disco that was the traffic. He’s there to remind me that I’m no scientist. And I should never ever experiment with talking to boys on trains again.

Jodi McAlister

Jodi McAlister explains how trains influenced the play she wrote at age 10: ‘The Six Wives of King Henry VIII: The Musical’. Jodi McAlister is an all-of-the-time academic type, a-lot-of-the-time theatre critic, and occasional playwright. You can find her in many a theatre foyer and on many a Sydney-Wollongong train. This is her post for the ‘A View From Moving Windows’ blog… 

Photo Credit: Jodi McAlister

I’m one of those people who writes on trains. This has turned out to be quite a useful habit: I live in Wollongong but most of my actual life is in Sydney, so I spend huge amounts of time on the train, tapping away at my computer. A lot of the time, what I’m writing is about theatre – nearly all of my reviews are drafted late at night on the long post-show schlep back to the Gong. But trains and writing and theatre have been linked together for me for way longer than that.

When I was ten and my family and I were in England, my parents took my sister and I on the train to London to see Starlight Express. The train journey took about an hour, during which time I was completely unsociable. I didn’t want to hear about the show we were going to see, because, you see, I was writing a play of my own. We’d been to Hampton Court a few days earlier and I’d been terribly impressed by the story of King Henry VIII and his six wives. I determined on the spot that this story was Meant For The Stage and started writing it (on the train) that same afternoon. This was Day 3, this train journey representing a solid block of writing time. I furiously scribbled in my notebook as the train clacked through Chelmsford, Stratford, Brentwood. I was pretty annoyed when we got to London and I’d only just killed off Anne Boleyn.

The Apollo Victoria theatre is huge, cavernous when you’re ten and (then as now) small for your age. Tracks soared through the air, above the audience, impossibly high. Everything was glittering.

“What’s this show about?” I asked my mother.

“A train race,” she replied. “Put your notebook away.”

I was hooked the second the first actors-on-roller-skates sped onto the stage. Starlight Express blew my freaking mind.

But Starlight Express also posed a problem for me: a major one that I had to begin to rectify on the train journey home, tearing pages out of my notebook willy-nilly. “No one ever told me plays had to have songs in them!” I told my parents angrily.

I was annoyed when they laughed at me. While I know a lot more about theatre now, I’m also glad they didn’t correct me. I still have The Six Wives of King Henry VIII: The Musical, by Jodi age 10, written almost totally on train journeys around England, sitting in a cupboard somewhere, and the ten year old in me is still devastatingly proud of her first play.

I still know all the words to Starlight Express, and even though it’s not exactly hip to be into Andrew Lloyd Webber, it’s still my favourite musical ever. And whenever it comes up on my iPod on one of those long train journeys home – particularly when I’m reviewing a show (whether or not it had songs in it) – it reminds me of everything I love about theatre.

 For more of Jodi’s writing check out her blog Theatre From The Back Seat.

Felicity Pickering

Nicole Dimitriadis and I (Felicity Pickering) have loved reading the posts that have come in for A View From Moving Windows. It’s been a privilege showcasing so many talented writers! The only downside is when it’s come to write our own, we have to write something that could sit alongside posts with such calibre! So here goes nothing…

In cinema, trains are meant to represent sex.

I use to catch the train home from school. We’d sit on the ground at Croydon station chewing Zappos and harassing whoever had Doritos to ‘give us one’.  If a train was cancelled there would be a collective sigh as sixty or so girls decided whether to hightail it to Burwood for an express. The announcement was always followed by an army of tartaned girls in kilts ripping up the stairway. We would have made William Wallace proud, our school principal less so.

My school was fraught with rumours that there was an underground tunnel to the station, that the Old Hall housed a secret passage. The boarders swore they had ventured into it. They would tell us of dirty cement and dead pigeons that watched over the entrance like gargoyles.  The stories made my school sound more like the Kremlin than Croydon.

The train had a different culture to the bus, which was quicker but never as exciting. The train had delays, attempted suicides. The train had old men who took delight in sitting in the door carriages with seats facing the girls. Old men who enjoyed letting their legs spread to reveal a fully exposed set of genitals. I suppose that was some kind of abuse.

The train was exciting because it had boys. Thick waves of Lynx preceded them. Black and white lemmings that stank of douchebag. They spoke loudly about rugby games and competed in front of you. It was always a battle. They spat ‘loser’ and ‘chimer’ at each other, harassed one another and tried to assert their authority. The cool girls would laugh and flirt with them, boast about detentions they’d got. It was always the cool girls who knew boys on the train.

I’d keep quiet. I’d try and maintain normal conversation. I’d try to not look like too much of a nerd but not stand out too much.

One day a boy talked to me on the train. I’d just gotten a Body Shop ‘Born Lippy’ Strawberry Lipgloss for my birthday. This particular lipgloss was very hip at the time. The boy saw it in my pale little hand and exclaimed:

‘I love that lipgloss.’

And with one dirty finger he scooped out all the pink sweet smelling gloss and ate it with his big dopish mouth.

Years later when I was doing film studies at uni, I discovered that trains represented sex in cinema. That trains were meant to be phallic symbols that assumed sexual meaning when going through tunnels and bridges.

Suddenly the train schedule became the path of the pene, charting the big steel phallus’ that penetrated Sydney daily. I suppose Sydney trains are phallic in the way they give life to the city and sometimes they come early, or they don’t come at all.

I don’t think of them as symbolising sex but they do symbolise my first reactions to the opposite sex, mild annoyance and a little bit of repulsion.

A picture of me around the same time.

What I’d look like if a guy tried to eat my lip gloss now. You’ve been warned.

For more info about me check out my bio or my blog