THE concept of ‘home’ became all-encompassing during covid.
People trying to get back home, people missing their spiritual home – whether that be the church, pub or gym – people losing their job and home, people unable to work to afford a home…
So even though the play Homeward Bound is ostensibly about an astronaut stranded in the hinterlands of space, trying to get back to his home planet, it’s just a metaphor for a whole host of things we’re trying to reach or get back to, physically or mentally.
Written and performed by Isaac Diamond, Homeward Bound was inspired by the parallels between the migratory journey of a bird and the challenges faced by a lonely astronaut traversing space.
“Last year I read a few books that started to speak to each other in eerie ways,” Diamond says.
“One was Piranesi by Susannah Clarke and the other was The Peregrine by JA Baker. These books couldn’t be more different but somehow they gifted me the story of a lone astronaut who is drawn instinctively to birds.
“The play then began to speak to issues surrounding isolation, home and loss which in a covid-19 world seemed, well, bloody relevant.”
A self-confessed sci-fi nerd, Diamond says he was also inspired by the Radiolab episode There and Back Again, which looked at where birds go in winter – “Radiolab is a science podcast but always considered with such beautiful story-telling, and there was something about these tiny creatures making these insane journeys every year and then returning home that rocked me.”
But in general Diamond’s brain is like a Thermomix that crunches all his sub-conscious thoughts into little inspired blobs of dough.
“As far as creative influences go I think I’m mostly inspired by mushrooms and weird deep sea alien creatures, and birds obviously and shit like that,” Diamond says.
“Homeward Bound has been developed through lots of research…but fun research like movies, TV, podcasts and books – things I already love. After I had consumed lots of material there was so much ‘mulch’ in my brain that I was ready to write. I actually don’t read heaps of ‘plays’ per se but I do remember reading When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell during uni and I’ve performed in Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill and I love both of these texts. They have scarily flawed characters that left me reflecting on empathy and love basically…that’s what gets me going.”
A graduate of WAAPA’s performance making course, Homeward Bound is Diamond’s writing debut, but he is an award-winning actor and has assembled an experienced team for his show including director Elise Wilson (Elliot’s big nose and the Snot that it Grows) and sound designer Rachel Dease (Hymns for End Times), ensuring this post-modern play is full of interesting visuals and sonic effects.
But at the heart of the show is Diamond’s love of birds and our concept of home.
“I’m letting the sci-fi stuff be in the backdrop for a story that is focussing on people and our relationship to the planet,” he says. “Birds become the centre of this show’s universe. When I decided to smash together my love of science fiction with my love of birds, initially it seemed like it was going to be tricky to make these puzzle pieces fit…but I think we’ve done a great job. This show is cool and weird and surprising and emotional and pretty. I’m excited.”
Presented by award-winning theatre company Lazy Yarns, Homeward Bound is at the Blue Room Theatre in Northbridge from October 4-22. Tix at blueroom. org.au/events/homeward-bound/
by STEPHEN POLLOCK