Write stuff in retirement
AFTER 47 years as an academic, including 27 years at Bond University, Chamkaur Gill gave himself a year off after starting retirement to relax, travel and "take it all in".
Then he started writing …
He has now written three plays and has another three in the wings.
Chamkaur said while he had dabbled in the past in short stories and poetry, he had given away the artistic side of writing while busy with academia.
He did some directing at Bond, and had been involved in theatre arts in Malaysia as a younger man, but said he "never thought he would write a proper full-length play".
"Someone said you're too old to write a play, but you can just call me the new senior on the block," he laughed.
"My mind is young, I think young and I keep my finger on the pulse of youth."
Chamkaur is inspired by social issues, including loneliness, depression, misogyny and ageing, and his plays reflect that.
But he said that while bad things would always happen in life, it was important not to be overcome by them.
It's an attitude he needed to call on when his first play, Void, which was to have premiered in March, had to be postponed due to rules sparked by the coronavirus outbreak.
"Shed a tear and move on," he said philosophically.
Void addresses the vulnerability of children and the need for society to better protect them, examining the emotional trauma of two parents whose four-year-old daughter disappears.
It shows the parents 14 years on from the one mistake that changed the rest of their lives, when one unsuspecting afternoon their precious daughter was abducted in broad daylight.
"When I grew up, everyone was one big family, but it is not like that today and I hope this will make parents and children talk and think, and instil a sense of caution," Chamkaur said.
He suggested the play may now open in August to correspond with Missing Persons Week.
Despite his dark subjects, Chamkaur does not have a bleak outlook on life.
He is stimulated by the vibrancy and goals of Gold Coast-based theatre group Wild Dreamer Productions, with which he produced the play.
"Theatre has so much life in it - it's so real - and it would be great to get more people interested in the theatre to experience the fun, the emotions and passion," he said.
While he hopes his plays will find receptive audiences, Chamkaur said his main aim was to live life to the fullest.
"You need to find something to do that you really enjoy … make life as wonderful as you can, because it's all down to you, no one is going to do it for you," he said.
And he believes writing "is one of the best things retirees can do".
"Retirement goes on for quite a few years, and travelling is great but nothing is better for you than keeping your brain going and ideas bubbling up," he said.
Chamkaur advocates everyone writing half a page each day or even each week about their lives, both for themselves and their family to look back on.