Keith Gow always knew he would write.  Whilst getting published remains elusive for many would-be writers, Gow is presently enjoying being “insanely busy,” gaining a growing reputation as a worthy, establishing artist in the independent Melbourne theatre scene.

But it hasn’t always been this way for Gow.  After completing an Associate Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing in 1994, Gow, 36, spent many years writing novels and screenplays that caught the attention of would-be producers, but never got off the ground.

Gow's blog captions this photo: "A writer, outside."

But for some lucky people destiny can have its way of finding you in the most unimagined places.  After meeting another writer who was having some success with short films and plays, Gow started submitting short plays to Short and Sweet, one of the big festivals of ten-minute-theatre.  Two years later, Gow received the breakthrough he hadn’t seen coming.

“In 2008, out of the blue, I got a message to say that one of my plays had been picked up by Short and Sweet in Malaysia of all places,” said Gow.  “After years of writing and having nothing made, all of a sudden I was getting something made overseas.

“I’d never been to south-east Asia before so I decided to go on a trip and see my show over there. 

“It was exciting; my first real show.  I’d had stage readings of my stuff done in Melbourne, but obviously this was semi-professional and in a proper theatre.”

Following Malaysia, to keep the momentum going, Gow submitted more short plays to various Melbourne writing events and competitions.  Then in 2010, his play The Fidelity Act was chosen to be performed at the Gala Final of Short and Sweet in Melbourne.

“That was very exciting because it was one of my first things to be done here in Melbourne… and all my friends and family could finally come and see one of my plays,” said Gow.

Since then, it has been one thing after another for Gow with his plays performed at The Owl and the Pussycat theatre in Richmond, a season at the Melbourne Fringe and his second full-length play to be produced early next year.

Gow has discovered that he and theatre are working really well together.  Although still a lover of books and film, theatre presently is what excites him most.

“Every night is different; it’s never going to be exactly the same.  Different reactions of different audiences make it exciting.  Even if you know the play backwards you can have a different experience every night.

“Film can be more of a passive experience, whereas theatre can be immediate and more immersive, especially if you are in a small place with the actors right up close to you.”

It is also the collaborative nature of creating theatre that Gow is enjoying.  He says writing a novel or a screenplay is mostly a solitary process, and if “picked-up” by a producer, the writer is essentially no longer involved.  Whereas with theatre, the writer is treated with a bit more respect, able to work with the director and actors – at least at the start.

“It’s exciting to collaborate with people and to be appreciated when I’m around… to find a producer who wants to put my play on… and a director who likes working with my script… and actors who say ‘whenever you need me’… like, my God,” he laughs.

Gow’s writing is driven by his fascination with people.  He is the rare kind of person who has a lot of empathy for people and the stupid situations they may get themselves into and uses his writing to explore the reasons why people behave as they do.

“I write to understand people better.  I’m fascinated by people – absolutely fascinated… why people do the things they do and how people react differently in situations.”

Gow has recently been busy with his play Poems a Dead Boy Wrote performed at the Short and Sweet Festival this month. Next he will focus on Three Women, a collection of monologues to be performed in February; then a season at the Adelaide Fringe and possibly Edinburgh with his play Richard Di Gregorio: On Time that was recently performed at the Melbourne Fringe.

Gow of course is looking forward to the day when, as a writer, he may be able to cut back the hours of his day job and earn more of a living from his writing.

“I would love to make a living as a writer, but a big part of me knows that practically it’s really hard to be a playwright, it’s impossible to make a living as a playwright essentially… in Australia.”

In the mean time, half-finished novels and screenplays remain tucked away in Gow’s hard drive that may see the light of day sometime.

There seems to be no slowing down though for Gow at present.  On meeting him and seeing his plays, you may be tempted to tell him; "Keith, you should give up your day job!"

Three Women will be presented by The Wooden Leg at Revolt Art Space, Kensington
Feb 15-25, 2012
Starring Christine Husband, Renee Palmer, Adrienne Sloan

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