Love Lost and Gained // Writer's Note

By John Harvey

Posted Jun 28, 2017

Heart is a Wasteland (2017), Aaron Pedersen. Photographer: Deryk McAlpin

Heart is a Wasteland (2017), Aaron Pedersen. Photographer: Deryk McAlpin

The energy of this story has been sitting with me for a while, sometimes churning, sometimes sitting in the background. But it never goes away.

Perhaps it’s the aftermath of broken relationships that have disintegrated through the passing of time—the thoughts of love lost and love gained and the effects of sitting with people during immense times of suffering. And when I think about these things they are never linear—they creep and weave through me until they settle.

And my thoughts can be provoked by anything—a song; a place; a smell; a touch; a flick of an eye. Ultimately it’s the things we carry, that we don’t talk about, our buried wounds that come back to haunt us at times when we’re vulnerable and exposed. But these are also small windows or moments of truth, where we can grow and maybe begin to heal.

Much of our country is carrying buried wounds and truths that have been actively suppressed. And whilst these things may not be spoken about, the energy of these acts spills into our lives without recognition and healing. How do we grow a country physically and spiritually when we can’t acknowledge or shed light on our wounds or sit with the pain?

This is ultimately a road trip, a crazy black love story set over a few nights cutting through the middle of Australia. Passion is a powerful energy—we’re ultimately spiritual beings following what seems to be a physical journey on this earth.

I’m honoured to have forged my words with those of my partner incrime, love and life—Lydia Fairhall, whose beautifully arresting lyrics help bring a truth and resilience to the character of Raye. Working with dramaturg Mark Pritchard has been a wonderfully illuminating experience for me, particularly as a first time writer. His passion, respect, provocation, generosity of spirit and steady hand has helped this story find its voice.

I’m so proud to be handing this story across to my sister and director Margaret Harvey and her brilliant cast and creative team to shape it on the stage and whose collaborative process has helped to push this story that final step.

I had the pleasure of sitting downwith the late Malcolm Robertson at Footscray Community Arts Centre three years ago and spoke about Indigenous storytelling for the stage. I’m blessed to be part of his continuing legacy as the inaugural Playwright in Residence at Footscray Community Arts Centre to write Heart is a Wasteland.

And a big thanks to everyone at Malthouse Theatre and Footscray Community Arts for partnering with Brown Cabs in bringing this story life.