In defence of the humanities and 'humans doing' — Kate Mulvany's commencement classic
On Fathers' Day 2017, actor Kate Mulvany delivered one of the great commencements to humanities students at Curtin University.
I remember when Kate Mulvany came on the fifth episode of the Speakola podcast, in July 2020. It felt like such a coup. She’s one of Australian great stage and film actors, her performance in MTCs Bernhardt/Hamlet this year was immense, and this has been one of my favourite commencement speeches since the first day I heard it. Kate’s having some huge career wins at the moment, including starring opposite Al Pacino in The Hunters (Amazon Prime).
There’s a post show bit in this podcast episode (beginning 1.14.14) where Kate talks about a death bed speech she gave to her own father that’s a a post show tearjerker for Father’s Day here in Australia.
Every artist, and person who who works in creative fields, should listen to the Curtin University speech.
Here’s a taste of it:
I was taught from a very early age the importance of imagination. My country town of Geraldton was a glorious community of cultures. Noongar, Greek, Vietnamese, African, Indian all made up my English-Irish dad's original Sicilian soccer team. The stories, accents, and ideas that would fly around that team and their families were hilarious and heartbreaking. They challenged the way I saw my small town community and my place within it, and therefore my place within the world.
Later, as you've heard, I spent a large portion of my childhood battling cancer inherited from my dad's exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. In a stark Perth hospital ward in the early 1980s, there were no video games or Netflix, no Channel 7 Telethon hosted by Basil Zempilas to tell the outside world that we were there, no Make-A-Wish Foundations to whisk us away to Disneyland. All we had in that ward were each other, families surviving together.
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