Thomas Pierce – The Genesis of Genesis

Like any amateur theatre company, Hartwell sits at the confluence of many artistic and literary communities, each with a flavour of their own. Dramatic and comedic works are regularly performed in Melbourne from all around the world.

When Hartwell were putting together its 2018 One Act Play Season “Strange Love”, the selected plays themselves provided an overarching theme – with a homage to Kubrick! However, love isn’t all that strange – sometimes it just takes on different forms and takes time and patience.

In Thomas Pierce’s one act play Genesis, two people, pulled apart by career, ambition and just living are brought back together by an event that would make anyone reassess their lives. The two people question the very basis of our modern existence, obsessed with status and hollow ‘achievement’.

Playwright and academic Thomas Pierce is a long time native of Seattle Washington, USA. He is Instructor Emeritus in Philosophy and Composition, South Seattle College. After an extensive and illustrious career in academia he began writing plays of all sizes and complexions which have been performed in the US and now Australia.

Genesis is typical of the type of play that Thomas writes – ordinary people confronted with extraordinary situations. His plays have a strong theme of rationality with a focus on science, currently at odds with many of the trends in American and indeed, global society.

“On the West Coast of the US, we’re experiencing a very real disaster – as opposed to possible, like in Genesis – with the worst drought and wildfires in decades,” Thomas said during our interview.

“This is impacting and killing real people, at a time when our government lead by Trump and his like have their heads in the sand about climate change and are actually ruining our capacity to do something about it,”

Thomas holds very strong political views on the current state of American politics and conversations with your humble correspondent revolved around comparisons with the US and the current state of Australian politics – happening just as Malcolm Turnbull had been overthrown.

“I find it difficult to see how we can ever meet in the middle, such is the alienation of both sides from each other,”

In writing Genesis, Thomas used his own experiences in academia to reflect on his achievements and the transitory nature of many of the things he, and many others, currently value.

“Helen and David (the protagonists in Genesis) are both accomplished and well regarded individuals – and yet, it could be argued – those same achievements are empty when confronted with the existential crisis of both ageing and the pending event which brings them back together,” He said.

“The very idea of death – whether it be from wildfire, age-related or some other disaster – has a clarifying affect,”

“The two characters in Genesis are faced with a challenge which brings on reassessment of what’s important more quickly than most experience it, which is usually a slow burn,” Thomas said ruefully.

Thomas has travelled extensively in Europe and Asia, and is using the performance at the Monash One Act Play Festival as an excuse to visit Australia.

“I’ll be taking the opportunity to visit extensively around Melbourne and see the sights – hoping to take in some theatre in addition to the Monash One Act while I’m here.”

Hartwell hopes that Chris (Director), Lachy (David) and Jodi (Helen) have done his thoughtful and profound piece in Genesis justice, and look forward to seeing him in Melbourne in late September.