Loose Canons: Hamish Parkinson
Loose Canons is a new series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work.
We chat to writer and 2015 Billy T Award winner, Hamish Parkinson about his new play, Fun Run.
Hamish is a multi-award wining scriptwriter and performer who originates from Christchurch where he worked heavily with The Court Jesters (devising, performing and directing a variety of shows). He attended Canterbury University Fine Arts School specialising in filmmaking, and has a Masters in Scriptwriting from the International Institute of Modern Letters. He's currently performing in All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever at Q while Fun Run debuts at The Basement.
Did you know that Earth’s sole legacy will be a slight increase (0.01%) in the solar metallicity?
The Sad Mascot
Christchurch is the gateway to Antarctica, which means we can escape the icy cold wind into the icy cold Antarctic Centre, famous for having penguins and a very cold room that gives you the experience of being in a cold place.
One of the many services this winter wonderland offers is children’s birthday parties, which I was fortunate enough to experience at my younger cousin’s sixth birthday.
My memory of the party was a noisy room filled with marshmallow-looking humans aimlessly fumbling at jelly and vanilla ice-cream, smearing most of it around their puffy-looking faces. The staff, sensing the children were starting to tweak out on all that sugar, decided to sate their nervous energy by releasing their crowd-pleasing mascot, Pom Pom the Penguin, into the room.
Upon seeing this towering figure approach - floppy pompom beanie and fixed smile plastered on its unmovable beak - the children charged in Beatlemania-esque fashion. Their little cheerio fingers dug into the absorbent fur of a penguin now trying its hardest to lift its wings under the might of the swarming children; overwhelmed with their ferocious love for this tactile god.
With all of this excitement reaching fever pitch, something had to break. One kid, more curious than the others, wasn’t satisfied with a simple hug. Lifting up Pom Pom’s nub of a tail, the young explorer found an entrance. In a flash, the child disappeared into the back of the costume. Pom Pom suddenly stopped flapping its wings. Its fixed expression, when completely still, looked remarkably terrified. It wasn't long before the child exited from the penguin’s behind, like Moses from the mount, with a profound message to share to the masses.
“It’s a fucking dude!” the child proclaimed.
Everyone fell silent for a single second that felt like years. The children contemplated the lie presented to them, the temporarily endless love they’d given to this false prophet. The parent’s expressions showcased the less complex but more overarching thought of, “Oh, hell no,” while the rest of us pre-teen cousins were pre-occupied by an even simpler thought of, “Did that six-year-old just swear?”
Then, as the second hand screeched past this brief quiet contemplation, all hell broke loose. Kids threw themselves at Pom Pom, knocking the idol down like a disgraced dictator statue. Parents started yanking these rabid pre-humans off the poor penguin, but there were just too many. With militant precision they started to climb inside the suit to find the man behind the curtain, their little fingers rounded into doughy fists.
Pom Pom the Penguin couldn’t hit back. The children had the upper hand of being children.
I mean, if this isn’t a great summary of life, I don’t know what is.
Jesus Flippin' Out
“And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.”
– John 2:13-16
Jesus flips over a table, and just whips people. There are animals running around that are people’s means to make money, all because ol’ only child here is sick of talking it out.
Jesus is depicted as this chill dude who has no problems with women washing his feet (I mean, shit must have been real fucked up if that seemed like it was breaking taboo) and loves giving sermon after sermon on how to be respectful. Then one day he just loses his shit. He flips over a table!
I think this is the moment where Jesus really shows how human he is. Humans get pissed, humans sometimes push things too far, they lose their rag and go against their own principles in order to hold up other principles in the heat of the moment.
Reading this part of the bible was like finding out my parents had sex for fun. That moment you realise that no matter how pure and good you think idols are, they’ve done some stuff that makes you feel uneasy. Your whole perception of them becomes more complicated; you finally accept that maybe things can never be 100% pure. Sometimes the dude you love flips over a fucking table or bones your mum.
I think Giotto summarised it best in his depiction of this. Jesus, clenched fist, about to bring the might of the Lord to some money-lender’s face, while his disciples stand behind taking their sweet time deciding if they should get involved or not:
When I was young and my dad still had a pulse, we used to go for walks. Usually as an excuse for him to take photos or samples for his drawings and paintings, but mostly as a way to try and connect with me.
Once, when I was eight, we went for a walk through Victoria Park. At one point my father stopped to look over a long sharp drop beside the path. He kneeled to my height and put his arm around me, holding tightly onto my shoulder.
“You know, it’s around here those two Christchurch Girls’ High School girls murdered their mother.”
He paused and observed the quiet and empty surroundings. “It would be pretty easy to get away with it, wouldn’t it?”
His grip tightened on my tiny shoulder. “You could just push someone down there and no-one would hear you scream. Wouldn’t find your body for weeks.”
We both stared down at the ground far beneath us and the large amount of foliage that would hide a body easily as he quietly rocked me back and forth before lightly slapping me on the back.
“Well, c’mon skippy, better get going,” he cheerfully exclaimed before striding down the twisted path.
The Water Rat
After a breakup and in between rehearsals for a show I didn’t feel was going anywhere and going to the hospital to spend time with my slowly dying grandmother, I decided to treat myself to a delicious Greek Souvlaki beside the Avon River in post-quake Christchurch to give myself some space to think.
As I stared at the Bridge of Remembrance, covered in scaffolding, I noticed a fat and friendly sparrow darting near the bank. In a blissful moment I felt a strong connection to this little fuzzball. Forgetting my personal problems and the ruins around me, I felt in a strange way it had something profound to teach me. That this little flittering gift from nature could be a ‘Eureka’ moment which would let me understand something deeper about myself and how to keep going in my life.
I flicked it a handsome chunky piece of soft pita bread and looked deeply into its wet black eyes, in search of some kind of connection, some kind of higher meaning.
Before I could drift into a daydream and reach some kind of conclusion, a water rat scuttled out of the reeds and attacked the sparrow with hungry intent. Before I could do anything about this attack, a duck rose out of the river and chomped down on the rat and flew down the river with it.
Sometimes shit happens eh.
15 - 19 September
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