Footscray, Victoria, Australia
An interview with award-winning playwright Barry Dickins about 'Ryan', an important new Australian work opening at La Mama on December 9th, 2015.
Footscray, Victoria, Australia
Dickins practised working with charcoal for more than 18 months to perfect his pictures and “all the effects you can achieve with just charcoal on paper.”
(In early 2008, Barry Dickins - an artist and author - suf...)
In early 2008, Barry Dickins - an artist and author - suffered from insomnia. He went to the doctor, who cited clinical and severe depression as the cause. He checked in to a clinic and was told that he would be there until the joy returned to him. But the joy eluded Barry for months, and so for months, he stayed alongside patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and other traumas. He took his medication and succumbed to the electroconvulsive therapy, which left him unable to grip a pen and riddled his memory with holes.
(It's 1957 and Barry has been sent to stay with Nan and Po...)
It's 1957 and Barry has been sent to stay with Nan and Pop during the school holidays while his mum waits for the new baby. Barry is six-and-three-quarters and 22 Miller Street - the last house Pop built on theWest Preston street - proves full of novel experiences: there's going shopping across the Hump at dawn with Nan ('good isn't it, height,' she says, advising him 'you can look at the stars for nothing'); keeping Pop company in the shed, where he goes for his smoko; sharing a bed with great aunt Bess (whose Anzacs are 'an indestructible mixture of oats, molasses, wheat germ and pure will'). Oh, and finding his way to Fairyland. 'It's time you got to know each other.' Nan reached up and took an old golf ball out of a baked-bean can nailed to the doorframe above the gully trap. 'All right,' she said, 'Now, West Preston fairies are nothing like the English ones. When you find them, do as they tell you. They'll never do you harm. And don't shout - they don't like that. They'll close up their ears if they hear a loud noise. Now, let's see where the ball lands. Ready, set, go!'But then Pop dies, and Barry and his Dad can't find the deed to the house. Developers Snaithe and Sharky are circling and Bracky Boy the Bodgie is threatening the whole neighbourhood.
(Lessons in Humility is the bizarre story of Barry Dickins...)
Lessons in Humility is the bizarre story of Barry Dickins' life as a teacher. He gained his Diploma Of Education at The Melbourne State College forty years ago although he failed Classroom Management. He has taught Drama and Creative Literature to cherubs at a primary school and prayer-composition at a secondary college.
Barry Dickins left school at the age of sixteen. He was trained as a teacher.
At the age of sixteen, Barry Dickins worked in factories in North Melbourne for five years before he started his apprenticeship as a set painter on Channel 7. In early 1970s Barry Dickins completed teacher training and became a part of the La Mama writing and performance group in Carlton, Australia. Through his association with La Mama Theatre, his first play, a translation of Ibsen's Ghosts, was performed in 1975.
Barry Dickins wrote short stories, biographies, opinion pieces, essays, and children's books. He has also had a long career as an educator, spending 41 years teaching English and creative writing at various schools in Melbourne. He also taught at Scotch College, Melbourne Grammar and West Preston Primary School. In his book Lessons in Humility: 40 years of teaching Barry shared about his teaching experience. Barry was also a journalist. He wrote regularly for the Age and Sunday Age newspapers.
Dickins was also an actor. His first acting role was in Barry Oakley's The Ship's Whistles. It was staged in 1978 at the Pram Factory Front Theatre, under the direction of Paul Hampton. He also took part in Paul Cox's Man of Flowers (1983); James Clayden's With Time to Kill (1987); Brian McKenzie's With Love to the Person Next to Me (1987); Paul Cox's The Gift (1988; Paul Cox's Golden Braid (1990) (which Dickins also co-wrote); Brian McKenzie's People Who Still Use Milk Bottles (1990); Frank Howson's Flynn (1993); and Elise McCredie's Strange Fits of Passion (1999). He also had guest roles on the television shows Winners (1985) and Wedlocked (1995).
In 1985, Barry appeared in a revival of Graeme Blundell's Balmain Boys Don't Cry (renamed The Balmain Boys) at the Kinsela's Cabaret Theatre in Darlinghurst, New South Wales. His most recent stage performance was recent a dramatic reading of the monologue, Ryan (a continuation of his earlier work Remember Ronald Ryan), which was performed as part of a QandA event held at Melbourne based bookshop, Collected Works.
A Line Drawing of My Father was published in 2005. It is a memoir of the authors' father Len Dickins who served in the Second World War and was a commercial printer thereafter. It also gives a portrait of the working-class northern suburbs of Melbourne. In 2009, Barry published his memoirs Unparalleled Sorrow, which discusses his career and his battle with depression. Barry was also an author of Remember Ronald Ryan, Ron Truffle: His Life and Bump-out, My Grandmother; Heart and Soul: Personal Recollections of Life in the Police Force; and with Paul Cox, of The Golden Braid, a screenplay. In 2015, Dickins became a Writer-in-Residence and Creative Writing lecturer at Victoria University in Footscray, Melbourne. He held the position for less than 12 months.
In June 2017 Dickins was found guilty of making a false police report after claiming officers had conducted an improper strip search upon him. The Magistrate remarked that Dickins invented a set of facts, which were not true. That's why Dickins was placed on a 12-month good behavior bond with no conviction recorded. His then-employer, The Sunday Age, was later found to have breached Australian Press Council principles in light of their publication of Dickens' account of the alleged police misconduct. Barry Dickins is now writing for Fairfax Media in the Sunday Age as a Journalist.
(It's 1957 and Barry has been sent to stay with Nan and Po...)2012
(In early 2008, Barry Dickins - an artist and author - suf...)2009
(Lessons in Humility is the bizarre story of Barry Dickins...)2013
Barry Dickins' tip to aspiring writers: "It’s good to be diverse in your writing. I could be writing a book about fairies one minute and interviewing Johnny Cash the next."
Barry's own values, as opposed to those of his family, have always been a commitment to a spontaneous conversation where it perhaps annoys them as Barry never ceases his stories that are unpublished until they are sort of edited or polished by virtue of ear-bashing the loved ones.
Barry Dickins married Sarah Mogridge. Barry got divorced in 2008. They have a child Louis.