Australian actor CLAUDIA KARVAN is about to make her first mainstage appearance in almost 25 years, after spending the past two decades working on films and TV series such as The Secret Life of Us, Love My Way, Puberty Blues and Bump. Here she talks about life, happiness and what brings her joy.
What is your favourite place and why?
My bed. I have a deciduous tree I look out on, and it marks the seasons. Its leaves are bright and move elegantly with the wind. When I fall into bed early, I’m happy. When I can get out of bed late, I’m thrilled. I drink tea in bed. Do the Wordle and Spelling Bee and crossword. I read in bed. I can do a lot of work emails before I’ve even gotten out of my PJs. And, of course, lots of other lovely stuff happens in my bed.
Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
Writers have been my greatest creative inspiration. I’ve spent my life striving to bring truth, inventiveness and emotion to their words. I’ve spent some of the best hours of my life reading books. Writers inspire me to keep thinking, reaching for better performances, and sharing authentic and original stories.
What was your finest hour?
Any hour where I’ve managed to hold my temper, stay patient, listen and be kind.
How do you keep your head together?
Yoga, dance, a good psychologist, good food, old friends, new friends and regularly feeling awe and wonder at the world.
What’s the most inspirational movie or stage show you have ever seen?
State Theatre Company South Australia’s 2006 production of Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia? It blew my mind. Its ability to flip from hysteria and hilarity to devastation and back again is unprecedented. It’s continuing to enthral me as we rehearse it in preparation for the season with the State Theatre Company South Australia in Adelaide and the Sydney Theatre Company in Sydney.
Is there a performance you have seen that has changed your life?
All the performances of Judy Davis. I played her daughter in the feature film, High Tide in 1986, so I got to witness her craft up close. And then watched her earlier performances and her performances since. Her intelligence, humour and attitude glows in every role. It’s a high bar, but she’s made quality, subversiveness and purpose an imperative.
Is there a book or a favourite piece of literature that has affected you deeply?
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright. It’s a contemporary, Indigenous work of art. It’s a tome.
It’s comforting, original, and connects the reader to ancient knowledge and rhythms and
an understanding of First Nations humour and the nature of circular time.
Why do you do what you do?
Because, as an atheist, I believe sharing our stories is the meaning of life. It connects us, comforts us and educates us. Trying to make sense of our lives through storytelling feels significant and gratifying.
If you didn’t do what you do, what WOULD you have liked to have done with your career?
I have no idea. Maybe create some other type of art. Paintings. Or ceramics.
What makes you happy?
Avoiding drama. Riding my bicycle. Waking from a good night’s sleep and reviewing remembered insightful dreams. Coincidences.
Claudia Karvan stars in Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia? in Adelaide until 25 Feb and Sydney 2-25 Mar.