Interview with Humphrey Bower – An Imaginary Life, a new theatrical adaptation

The award-winning creative team that brought you The Apparatus and The Golem are back with another masterful literary adaptation for the stage.

Humphrey Bower. Credit Fremantle Shipping News

Seminal Australian novel An Imaginary Life by David Malouf has been adapted by actor (and so much more) Humphrey Bower and will be performed by Humphrey and live musician Pavan Kumar Hari, who were last seen together onstage as Prospero and Ariel in Black Swan State Theatre Company’s The Tempest.

An Imaginary Life is about the Ancient Roman poet Ovid living in exile on the edge of the Black Sea, and his encounter with a ‘wild child’. He teaches the child to speak and learns about the child’s connection to nature and life.
An intimate duet for actor and musician, the show will be presented in the historic Moores Building Art Space in Fremantle, with an audience of around 40 and each performance seated in close proximity around the performers.

An Imaginary Life is a site-responsive work tailor-made (and re-made) for found venues and their communities. The team will also be collecting stories from community members about each venue and sharing those as part of the project.

Humphrey Bower in rehearsal. Credit Daniel Grant

Creator Humphrey Bower says: “This is a story about learning to live wherever we find ourselves. It’s about learning to coexist with people who are already here and have their own way of understanding where they live and how to live there. And it’s about learning to belong here by coming to terms with who we are and who we can be here.”

The work will be launched in Walyalup/Fremantle at the mouth of the Derbarl Yerrigan/Swan River where it flows into the Indian Ocean – and will later tour to Cossack in 2025, an isolated town in the Pilbara on the edge of the tidal salt flats that separate the town from Nickol Bay: two very different locations, each of which resonates in its own way with a story about living and learning to live ‘on the edge of things’.
Humphrey Bower is an actor, director and writer based in Perth. He’s worked across the country in theatre, opera, dance, puppetry, film, TV, radio and audio book narration.

Recent credits include: Things I Know To Be True (Black Swan State Theatre Company 2023), Nocturne (The Lab, Adelaide, 2022), The Duel (adaptor/director, WA Opera, 2022), Mary Stuart (Perth Festival, 2022), The Tempest (Black Swan State Theatre Company, 2021),  Savage Grace (Steamworks Arts, Rehearsal 2021), The Cherry Orchard (Black Swan/Perth Festival, 2021); The Golem (co-devisor/performer, The Blue Room Theatre, 2020); The Apparatus writer/ director/ performer, The Blue Room, 2019); andSunset (writer/performer, STRUT/Perth Festival, 2019).
Humphrey’s talents have been recognised by awards including the 2021 Performing Arts WA Award for Best Independent Production (The Golem); 2020 Performing Arts WA Award for Best Actor (Male) and 2019 Blue Room Award for Best Performance (The Apparatus); 2013 Equity Guild Award for Best New Play (Skin); 2012 Blue Room Award for Best Production (Skin); 2011 Blue Room Members’ Choice Award and BestPerformance Award (Wish); and 2010 Helpmann Award for Best Supporting Actor (Richard III).

The creative team behind this production are: Writer, Director, Performer: Humphrey Bower Performer: Pavan Kumar Hari Sound Design: Kingsley Reeve Visual Design: Zoe Atkinson Creative Producer: Libby Klysz

So here’s where and how to see An Imaginary Life
Where: Moores Building Art Space, 46 Henry St Walyalup/Fremantle
When:   16- 19 July, 7pm
Suitable: 15 years +
Running Time:  60 minutes
Tickets:   $32-$40 plus booking fee
Bookings: Humantix

Our Editor, Michael Barker, was very pleased to meet up with Humphrey Bower at the 1925 Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall to make this podcast about An Imaginary Life, Humphrey’s creative life, as a writer, performer, director and narrator and just what to expect in the Freo performance.


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Here’s the PODCAST. Enjoy!