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Callum Mackay (He/Him) is one of four playwrights shortlisted for the Queer Playwriting Award 2023 for his play 'Waterfowl'

"I am a playwright interested in the intersection between love and death, and the beautifully destructive power of nostalgia."

Emerging playwright, actor & QPAS (Queer Playwriting Award Showcase) finalist Callum Mackay, was born and raised in Eora Country (Sydney). Moving to Naarm (Melbourne) in 2016 to study acting at the VCA which he completed in 2018, He's consistently acted in independent theatre including such companies as Melbourne Shakespeare Company, 7th Floor Theatre and EbbFlow Theatre Company. He began playwriting in 2019 and has since written four plays, two of those; Brittany & The Mannequins & The Last Train to Madeline.

He's deeply passionate about creating provocative work with young artists for young audiences and is interested in theatre that pushes boundaries, stimulates thought-provoking conversation and energises young artists with a voice.

"I am a playwright interested in the intersection between love and death, and the beautifully destructive power of nostalgia."

What drew you to apply for QPAS?

Sharing a play is an incredibly daunting prospect but an inevitable one. Although Waterfowl has been quite a recent play in terms of its writing process, it has been years in the making. I’m very excited to be sharing a new queer play with audiences - one that is epic is scope and the questions it wrestles with. QPAS is an exciting institution that I’m very privileged to be a part of.

Tell us about your play

'Waterfowl' takes place in a private boys' boarding school in Australia during the late 80s and the present day. Lawler and Samuel are seventeen-year-old boys who seem very much to be thriving. But as the school year begins, they meet a new charismatic student named Carter. A blossoming young romance and a splintering friendship bubble to the surface leading to an entanglement between three queer boys as they interlock and collide during their final year of high school.

What’s the message/s you want to get across with this piece?

To me, Waterfowl is a story about the beautifully destructive power of male love. It’s about our wrestle with affection and what happens when we refuse to let ourselves accept it. It’s about my friends and my passion to find love in between the straining of a muscle, the tense gaze of someone you’ve looked at for far too long and the wonder of: do you feel this too?

Who or what inspires your playwriting?

I try to find inspiration wherever and whenever I can - two school kids sharing a slurpee on the tram home, a story about your favourite meal, a tipsy night at Cinema Nova or the story behind a song that made you giggle. I believe that curiosity is the key to leading a creative life. But truly, I am always inspired by my friends and collaborators. Anyone who will let me blast sad songs and tell silly anecdotes while we watch the sunset. I’m very lucky to have stumbled upon those who have chosen to share a love with me... I can imagine it can be quite strenuous at times. Oh, and Nick Cave. Sometimes I think he’s my real father (sorry, Dad).

What are your top 3 favorite stage works you’ve seen?

International Theater Amsterdam’s adaption of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, Belvoir Street Theatre’s Angels in America by Tony Kushner, and Simon Stone’s adaption of Lorca’s Yerma.

If you win QPAS, what’s the first thing you’d do to celebrate?

I’d have a little boogie with my partner, grab a beer at my favourite pub, skateboard to the dog park, sit under a tree and watch the sunset.

What are your plans beyond the competition?

Write, write, write. I’m currently writing this blog questionnaire in an alleyway outside of Northcote Town Hall, way past its deadline. I have too many plays I want to write but I’m lucky enough that a couple of them are currently either being performed or in development. But beyond the competition, I hope that I am no sore loser and am eating only the most delicious things.


Be the first to hear a snippet of 'Waterfowl' and other plays at the Queer Playwrighting Award Showcase, 23 January 2023.

The Queer Playwriting Award Showcase is part of the Midsumma Presents program, a collaboration between Gasworks Arts Park and Midsumma Festival. QPAS identifies, supports and develops original Australian theatre with a queer focus.

Posted 14 Dec 2022 | Article by Izzie Brownbill


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