The West

Signs of Life that inspired Winton
Tim Winton returned to Albany for the premiere of his new play. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Albany still holds a special place in the heart and literary imagination of Tim Winton but the icy winds whipping off the Southern Ocean this week have certainly tested that relationship.

“A little bit of cold dampens the nostalgia somewhat,” laughed Winton, who was in his childhood home(town for last night’s world premiere of his second play, Signs of Life.

The Albany opening of the play, starring Helen Morse and Tom E. Lewis, is not only a gratifying return to Winton’s roots, it’s also a rare chance for a top-drawer theatre production to begin its run outside the metropolitan area.

“Having lived a lot of my life in the regions I know that feeling of having been overlooked,” he said.

“So it’s nice to first show the work to people who don’t live in the appropriate postcodes.”

Like Rising Water, his previous play for Black Swan State Theatre Company, Signs of Life is spun off one of Winton’s previous works, the 2001 Miles Franklin Award-winner Dirt Music.

Signs of Life, which opens at the State Theatre Centre on July 21, has the book’s heroine, Georgie
Jutland, living on the property owned by her late lover, Luther Fox, and eking out a modest living on land where (water has become a problem.

It is a familiar Winton drama about the struggle to hold things together in reduced circumstances.

But, Winton says, the water shortage Georgie faces is not far (removed from the big dry that envelops much of present-day WA.

The West Australian

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