2015 Griffin Studio: Kim Hardwick


We talk to 2015 Griffin Studio Artist Kim Hardwick about new writing, The House on the Lake, drive-ins and peddling Choc Tops and Chiko Rolls.

As a little girl I dreamt of being a nun, a ballerina or the mother of triplets named Trixi, Trudy and Tracey, however growing up in a Drive-In meant that by the age of ten I’d developed a very healthy curiosity for ambitions outside the realm of The Flying Nun, Margot Fonteyn and Barbie. When I wasn’t in pyjamas playing mini-golf, I was sent out into the mass of steaming car windows to peddle Choc Tops and Chiko Rolls. Not only did I learn how to add up without the aid of fingers, but I also learnt that humans come in all shapes and sizes; and that a combination of facts, fantasies and illusions forms a kind of magic, illuminating a multitude of stories…everyone a fascination.

Each time I peel back the cover of a play script I feel that same sense of fascination rush to the surface. Each time I start a project I remember Wim Wenders, the great German film maker, talking about his work…you want to give something to the world, the wish for something truer, more beautiful, more painstaking, more serviceable or simply other than what exists.

As a director, if I can achieve half of those desires or at the very least touch on all them, I walk away satisfied that in some respects the production was worth peoples’ time and attention.

The last play I directed was The House on the Lake by Aidan Fennessy, produced by the powerhouse that is Griffin Theatre Company. The play was originally produced by a different team from Black Swan Theatre Company in Perth and for a writer to have the opportunity to see their work reimagined, hopefully reinvigorated, definitely rescrutinised, and finally enjoyed by a different audience is a rarity for contemporary writing in Australian theatre. It was a pleasure to be a part of that experience and I hope to work with Aidan again in the future.

Part of my responsibility as one of this years Griffin Studio artists is to collaborate with the other artists on reading plays submitted for the Griffin Award, the result being a shortlist from which a winner is announced.  It was a challenging process. We all are the sum of very different experiences and questions around originality, theatricality and relevance held different resonances for different artists.  I was reminded that the Australian play now comes in all shapes and sizes and that our stories and artists are as varied as the continent is large.

The competition for production slots at any company is fierce and with in that atmosphere new writing can sometimes be marginalised. Without the support of forward thinking companies we would be all the poorer for not having Andrew Bovell, Angus Cerini, Declan Greene, Patricia Cornelius, Tom Holloway, Suzie Miller, Sue Smith and a multitude of other diverse Australian voices on our stages. This is where Griffin Theatre Company shines brightly as the little theatre that could, can and does.

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion around recent cuts or redistribution of Arts funding so I’ll finish by quoting Andrew Bovell from his keynote speech at the 2014 National Play Festival. He’s specifically referring to independent theatre but personally I think his comments can apply to all Australian theatre…. As a community we need to brace ourselves and put our heads together otherwise we risk losing our best and brightest of a new generation of writers for lack of opportunity and support. If we fail to nurture and challenge them and produce them all we have left is Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, Strindberg, Miller, Williams and so on. All fine playwrights but it’s tomorrow’s cannon we need to look after.

See you in the back row of Griffin!

Kim Hardwick, director and Griffin Studio Artist 2015