From The Writer : Julian Larnach

January 12, 2018

Our first World Premiere production of the year, Flight Paths, is a new work by one of Australia’s most exciting voices Julian Larnach. Set over a week in the world’s most prestigious university and the world’s largest slum, Flight Paths is a passionate coming-of-age story exploring privilege, families, mobility, Australia’s place in the world and the consequences of charity. Julian gives us an insight into what inspired him to create this work.

When I was a child I always wanted to do aid-work in Africa. This led me to study international relations at university, when I graduated I was closer to my goal. However, the traditional avenues of the foreign service were filled with students who had paid much more attention in class so I sought out volunteer opportunities to bridge the divide. I discovered that I would have to pay to undertake these, surely my time and education was worth at least a stipend? It was quickly apparent that I had no useful skillset in the field I longed to work in, I still wanted to fix the world and was frustrated that it wouldn’t just let me. Many years later and a career change later, Jennifer Medway at the Australian Theatre for Young People suggested I write a new play interrogating that frustration and the notions of privilege underneath it.

Second, I am a constant procrastinator and instead of working on this play I would watch endless videos of the starling bird and their unusual flocking pattern: the murmuration. This obsession led me to the sad fact that these birds are falling out of the sky and nobody knows exactly why.

Third, at the same time as avoiding writing and watching the videos I was following the story of a mysterious man who had appeared in the middle of a suburban street in London: nobody knew who he was or where he’d come from, he seemed to have popped out of thin air.

Flight Paths is the collision of these three ideas and is my way of interrogating this need to help even when we don’t know and how this has led to world where both birds and humans are falling from the sky.

I would like to thank the team at National Theatre of Parramatta for believing in this play, Jenni for getting me started, ATYP for giving me the space and time to see it come together, the cast for bringing my imaginary friends to life, to Anthea for the directorial brilliance and cups of tea, and always to Jess for your endless love, support and belief.

Julian Larnach is a Sydney-based playwright. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Relations from the University of Sydney, and a Graduate Diploma of Dramatic Art in Playwriting from the NIDA. 2017 saw the world-premiere productions of Folk Song for Outback Theatre for Young People and In Real Life for Darlinghurst Theatre Company. He has completed creative developments for new works with Sydney Dance Company, Playwriting Australia and Griffin Theatre Company, as well as dramaturgical secondments with Belvoir and Melbourne Theatre Company.

He was Resident Playwright at the Australian Theatre for Young People in 2015 and an Affiliate Writer for Griffin Theatre Company in 2013. He is currently a member of the inaugural Sydney Theatre Company’s Emerging Writers Group.