Paul Osuch, Founder and Artistic Director, Anywhere Theatre Festival

Take the advice of people you respect and then do it your way ...

A dreamer, innovative thinker and all-round lover of theatre, Paul Osuch began his early theatre antics producing short plays in Brisbane, before moving to London to study at the NIDA Playwrights Studio. From there he headed to Los Angeles for a short stint in writing sitcoms, before returning to his hometown of Brisbane to pursue his true passions. Here Paul encountered the difficulty of finding a studio space to transform into a working theatre, putting the first wheels in motion for a theatre festival held anywhere but a theatre. Straddling careers as a producer, director, playwright and scriptwriter, Paul launched Anywhere Theatre Festival in 2011 with Alexandra McTavish, showing to an audience of 4,000 people. In its second year, the crowd swelled to 66,000 attendees. Traversing genres of cabaret, musical theatre, circus, comedy, dance, drama and poetry, Anywhere Theatre Festival returns for its third year, showing May 8–19 in various non-traditional locations across Brisbane and Ipswich. The Weekend Edition caught up with Paul to chat inspirations and weekend essentials.

Photograph by Alexandra McTavish.

How do you like to start your weekend?
With my gorgeous wife Alexandra beside me in bed and ideally with my two boys Oscar and Jack still in their own. Then we like to head out – before it gets too warm – with a cafe destination in mind, either Slinky Espresso in Fairfield, Desmond and Molly Jones in Woolloongabba or Brother Espresso in the city. The destination depends how deep in thought I am when I am walking or driving and where I am when I snap out of it.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
Clean the house within an inch of its life and then run out as quickly as possible before it starts getting messy again.

How do you like to unwind?
Writing, talking, eating – sometimes all at the same time. Oh, and cleaning and ironing shirts also rank highly.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
If I tell you the nitty gritty of it I’m sure I’ll lose you in the second sentence. Suffice it to say it does involve a coloured pie chart with boxes to be ticked.

What’s something you’ve been meaning to do on the weekend but haven’t got around to yet?
Spend time with friends. It sometimes feels like I am in a work and family bubble. It always make me feel a little sad when I realise I have good friends who I see on Facebook but sometimes haven’t actually seen for years. I’m making it a plan to stop posting on their wall and to just call them instead.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday evening?
I always think of Sunday evening as a mini New Year’s Eve. Not because of the partying, just the reflection and the peace and quiet to evaluate the week that was and confirm some plans for the next week. Oh, I also like to iron shirts.

What are you looking forward to next weekend?
Somehow figuring out how I will catch about 15 different Anywhere Theatre Festival shows over two days. For me as the volunteer CEO, the only problem with a festival that’s held anywhere but a theatre is that the performances are spread throughout Brisbane and Ipswich, which means travelling from one to another needs some planning … and time.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m rereading Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969–1979 The Python Years and Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia. I think they might also be the top two in my desert-island book collection, along with anything by Alain de Botton.

What inspires you?
Other people who commit their time and energy to doing things that will make the world a better place. Hmm, I feel like that’s a bit of a Miss Universe contestant answer really, but it’s true.

What was your childhood dream?
Thanks to a compulsive urge to write diaries since I learnt to write, I can give you a breakdown how it changed by year. Age 4 – live in a house made of LEGO. Age 5 – be smart enough to read The Lord of the Rings and understand at least every second word. Age 6 – make a living as a BMX stuntman or as an international spy. Age 7 – make a living designing houses made of LEGO. Age 8 – make a living by writing funny short stories. Age 9 to 11 – get married and have kids (not sure what was going on there). Age 12 to 13 – make a living by creating Advanced Dungeons and Dragons adventure modules. Age 14 to 15 – get married and never force my teenage kids to live in a caravan for two years while travelling around Australia. Age 16 – be a novelist. Age 17 to 18 – write sketch comedy for a living or run a theatre.

What has been your greatest achievement?
I could say making Anywhere Theatre Festival the biggest and best festival of performance in Brisbane in just three years as a volunteer, and it being the only festival in Brisbane to get a gong in the Nine Fine International Festivals You Must See list. But no, my greatest achievement is my two delightfully different and wonderful sons, and convincing my wife Alexandra to stay married to me for more than a decade.

What is success to you?
Inspiring and empowering others to create something amazing that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

What are your words of wisdom?
Take the advice of people you respect and then do it your way.

Only a local would know … there is a ‘secret’ way to get from River Terrace on Kangaroo Point to Vulture Street on the other side of the Pacific Motorway without having to drive through all the lights around Leopard and Stanley Street. I know, it’s a silly thing, but once I found that shortcut I finally felt like a local.

Perk up …
after living in London for years, I realise how good coffee is in Brisbane. You can go anywhere, and I think in my time in Brisbane I’ve been to most.
Relax … anywhere there is a great playground where the boys can run around for as long as possible, so New Farm Park dragon playground, the Sherwood Arboretum or Hamilton Park and bike track.
Dine … Makanan Indonesian in West End (my kids always ask for the magic tricks).
Indulge … with hair cut at Pureman in the city. Yep, I have pretty simple needs.
Shop … When I shop I buy books, so it is Folio Books and Archives Fine Books in Brisbane City.
Catch-up … Umm, Twitter and Facebook. Oh, you mean in real life? Either Brother Espresso early in the day or at the Brisbane Powerhouse later on in the day.
Be inspired … watching theatre anywhere, occasionally even in a theatre.


Sign up for our weekly enews & receive more articles like this: