“I’m trying to be positive and I have moments when I’m optimistic about the future, but the problem is that the whole of 2020 is incredibly difficult on all fronts. From how the government is treating artists, to the things that people say about artists not being essential.”
Paul Capsis passionately spoke to Star Observer on a midweek afternoon sometime in June, right as the dust had begun to settle on Australia’s devastated creative industries post COVID-19.
“I would really like to see everyone’s television programs, their readings, their film, their music, their clothes, anything remotely creative – taken away, and then to come and tell me how ‘non-essential’ artists are.
“Not only has our industry been decimated, we have had to listen to this bullshit on top, like it’s not already bad enough.
“I was doing a production of The Deep Blue Sea by Terrence Rattigan at the Sydney Theatre Company,” Paul continues, “Covid, the sanitising and the distancing had all already started to happen, but miraculously we got to finish our season. That was a real blessing, I know immediately after us people’s productions opened and had to close after a week.
“When all the work disappeared overnight, that’s when it got tricky.”
I was curious to ask Paul how he thought people have changed, perhaps for the better during COVID-19.
“It’s shown people in a different light, people ringing or calling you, before COVID-19 we were lucky to even get texts – and I’m from this pre-iPhone age so I’ve never felt those things replaced the lived experience, just like none of these online things can ever match a live theatre experience.”
Recently Paul played at the Sydney Opera House as part of their Digital Season, but as Paul tells me, it was unlike any gig he’d ever done before.
“It was the most surreal thing I have done in my entire my career, from arriving at the Opera House – which is a venue I have performed at many times. But to get there and only be met by the stage door security, then going into the bowels of the building, with bright lights and long corridors of emptiness – there was no one there.
“My microphone was wrapped in plastic and the piano, and someone was there with a rag to clean where you were about to sing. Then to perform to absolutely no one in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, under bright lights – it was a ball, I was living for it.”
Concluding the interview Paul tells me that, “Even in my darkest hour, I feel there is hope, that perhaps after this, we don’t go back to things the way they were, I hope, particularly as Australians we can come back with compassion for our fellow man”