Meet Raimondo Cortese, course coordinator of the Master of Theatre (Writing) at the University of Melbourne

Raimondo Cortese. Photo by Giulia McGauran.
Raimondo Cortese. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

Writer and playwright Raimondo Cortese has written more than 30 plays which have been performed in more than a dozen countries, including Features of Blown YouthRouletteSt Kilda Tales, The Wall and The Silence. Raimondo has also written for film (The Boy Castaways), television and radio, as well as visual and experimental texts. In this interview, Raimondo talks about what makes a writer from his perspective as course coordinator of the Master of Theatre (Writing) at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Hi Raimondo, why don't you start by introducing yourself?

I'm a teacher of performance writing, and also a writer of plays, performance texts, screenplays, and fiction, as well as essays on occasion. Basically I love writing, so am happy to pursue it in whatever form it takes.

What, in your opinion, makes a "writer"?

I think the important thing, if you want to be a writer, or at least define yourself as one, is to actually write. I know that seems obvious, but it is through writing that writers ultimately need to express themselves. It's not a natural thing to do. It's inherently antisocial, and puts you in isolation for the most part, so you have to understand why you seek that out.

Why does a writer need to write? Why choose a form of expression that involves language, speech and isolation? This is a life-long question, and it's what keeps writers going. It also means you can trust the writing will take you where you need to go with it. You have to have that initial reason embedded deeply. It's the practice of writing that will take you on a journey that is profound and fulfilling.

And what about a good student?

A good student is one who practises. It doesn't matter how articulate or clever you are, how much reading you've done, or how much knowledge you believe you have, in the end, writing develops through practice.

What do you enjoy most about working at the VCA?

The best thing about working at the VCA is helping people develop their writing skills, to get them to understand they have something to say, or they wouldn't be there. With ample practice, developing self-confidence and the ability to train their eye to see the wood from the trees, people can turn something incoherent and dull into something profound that will impact others in a meaningful way.

It's always great to see students transform into confident agents in their creative life, willing to develop and share their vision with the world around them. If I wasn't working at the VCA I'd probably be a fishmonger.

What excites you most about writing?

The thing that excites me about my field is that there's never an end to things you can wonder and write about. Subject matter is inexhaustible, and inexhaustible in its ability to fascinate. In essence you are appealing to the audience's imagination, which is, to paraphrase Borges, at least as massive and incomprehensible as the universe. It's also pretty cheap to do. You don't need to be rich to write, though that helps – you just need to find the time.