The Hobart

Jane Longhurst’s new role

by Stephanie Williams
Jane Longhurst’s new role

With a job description of “getting paid to talk” you may have heard Jane Longhurst’s voice on the stage, the airways, the screen and even on hold.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? nipaluna/Hobart born and bred. After 20 years away from the island, I returned in 2008 with my family.

Tell us a little about your work? Only half jokingly I think I just get paid to talk! I am proud to be in my third decade as a professional actor. Since returning to Tasmania I have expanded my work to include broadcasting with ABC Radio Hobart, lots of voice over work (‘… if you want to speak to Reception, press 2…’) and MCing events big and small for cor­porate events, conferences, charity gigs and presenting concerts with our amazing TSO.

Your new show, Request Programme, opens as part of Beaker Street Festival. Why did you choose this piece? I have always been struck by both Request Programme’s form and content. Its form is highly unusual: it is a play with no text. What I also love about the play is it audaciously shows daily, domestic ritual without the smoke and mirrors of ‘showbiz’. The action is unapologeti­cally mundane but it’s action we all do, everyday, so in that way it’s very acces­sible. I love that you see stuff you don’t normally see on stage and screen.

In that regard it’s still quite radical. Content wise, it’s a portrait of loneli­ness that I find devastating and I believe thematically, it’s even more relevant today than when it was written fifty years ago. Loneliness in Australia is only recently becoming identified, researched and understood. And it’s growing as a social phenomenon, even with our ubiquitous social and digital technology platforms.

I think the more we can identify and remind ourselves that we all experience loneliness, at different times in our lives, the greater we can lean towards empathy and not suspicion in our daily interactions.

I hear a rumour you end up nearly naked on stage in this show. How does that make you feel? Oh my stars, abso­lutely terrified! Other than an innocent Blue Heelers episode back in the 90s I’ve never had to ‘get my kit off’ for stage or screen. As confronting as I’m finding it, it’s brief and it’s not gratuitous. Given our shiny and new, ‘perfection’ obsessed culture I’m actually kinda content to go, you know what? This is what a middle aged woman’s body looks like, deal with it.

You do a few things in your working life – how do you juggle it? As all freelanc­ers will tell you, you tend to say yes to EVERYTHING because you don’t know where your next pay-cheque will come from. And sometimes more often than not, gigs dovetail pretty tightly around each other or overlap on the same day. And that can create havoc but I’m always up for finding a way to make it work. It’s definitely true though, it doesn’t rain but it pours. Ultimately though, if it’s a great project, great ideas with great people then it’s irresistible.

What do you love doing outside work? Watching footy, cricket and rugby union. Going for walks on beaches or in the bush with my family. Hosting friends and travelling near and far. But to be honest, if I’m not working, I worry!

Favourite podcast or tv show? I LOVE a rollicking costume drama as much as the next person but recent shows I loved are both contemporary and from Denmark. This reveals my bias towards Scandinavia (I was an exchange student to Denmark back in the day and still speak conversa­tional Danish): one was the latest Borgen series and The Investigation. Highly, highly recommended.

Secret vice? Hiding chocolate from my family.

What are you reading now? The text for Request Programme and recently I had the pleasure of hosting a Q&A session with local author Kim Bambrook at her book launch for Undertow. It was an engrossing read.

What gets your goat? Litter. Honestly, just pick your sh*t up people! Cigarette butt litter especially. Why should someone else pick up after you? It really grinds my gears.

What was your first job? Selling the Saturday Evening Mercury (SEM) for something like 20 cents a copy! Yes, it was that long ago.

What are your daily news/social media habits? Radio on from the moment I wake up to the moment I turn off the light. Twitter for news throughout the day, I’m a bit of a news junkie. New York Times for Wordle and then Worldle: Wordle for maps.

Your favourite place in Hobart for…

Breakfast: Cibo e Vino.

Lunch: Dana Eating House.

Dinner: Templo or Suminato and a post show whisky or gin at The Still, thank you very much.

Favourite team? The Mighty Saints* (*terms and conditions apply).

Favourite Hobart secret? The Flower Room.

Parting words? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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May 2024

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