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I am not Michael Gow, but feel free to confuse us


Michael Gow (left) and Keith Gow (right)
Both writers. No relation.

Psst, I have a secret that I want to share with the double-digit number of people that read this blog. I am not sure it’s wise to share this tidbit of information, since it has led to some awesome meetings and awkward pauses and hilarious confusion. But I think I’ll whisper it here, just to prove I’m not trying to use this confusion to my advantage.

I am not Michael Gow.

I am also not this Keith Gow - but I was only ever possibly confused with him once at an AWG event in Sydney about ten years ago. It was cleared up when I went up to grab my conference pass and I was clearly not an 80 year old man.

Michael Gow is best known for writing Away, Sweet Phoebe, Toy Soldiers – and being Artistic Director of the Queensland Theatre Company for 11 years.

I am best known for... Painting with Words & Fire? Writing a lot? This blog?

Granted, it’s lovely to be confused with Michael Gow. There aren’t a lot of us Gows out there. Certainly few famous ones. Growing up, the Gow family name was best known as a brand of laundry detergent – but we weren’t related to the vast fortunes of that laundry detergent dynasty. I’m not related to Michael Gow, either. I don’t think. My mum has done a lot of research on family history and I think this may have come up.

The Wooden Leg, the theatre company I co-founded last year, attended the Regional Arts Victoria Expo last week and one of the venue owners briefly flattered me by telling his wife/partner/business associate that he was a big fan of Keith Gow’s writing. My name was on the business card he picked up. I played along, since it’s not impossible for the man to have seen something I’d written – and I would have felt rude correcting him.

“Oh no, wait, I’m thinking of Michael Gow.” He apologised but I kept talking with him about Painting with Words & Fire and trying to get that on tour. That’s the Wooden Leg’s current focus – funding to tour my most recent show. After that, we focus on the second half of this year. Things are brewing.

It’s the name that gets people. How many Gows do you know that aren’t me or Michael? It’s not like people have gotten so confused that they’ve started a discussion on my writing of Away or Sweet Phoebe. But at least it’s a conversation starter. Just not one that I start. Confusion is in the eye of the beholder.

The best thing that ever came out of this confusion was contact by a Hollywood agent. A high-powered agent with CAA. I won’t give names nor talk of their client roster. But big names. Huge names. Ridiculous names.

I corrected the agent straight away, but she had contacted me knowing that I was a writer and knowing that there was a Gow who was a writer in Australia. And while I wasn’t Michael, I was still a writer. That's pretty close. 

And she agreed to read a script of mine. She ended up reading two scripts and a treatment. And encouraged me to keep writing and to spend time making work in Australia before trying to make it in America. And I guess that’s what I am doing – making a lot of work and making a name for myself.

Keith Gow, not Michael Gow. But feel free to confuse us.

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Speaking of Michael Gow, his play Sweet Phoebe is currently on at Revolt Art Space in Kensington

Directed by Paul Knox with Lauren Hopley, and starring Wallis Murphy-Munn and Adam Ward.

This two-hander, about a couple whose relationship is put to the test when they agree to look after their friend’s dog, is moving and hilarious and everyone involved has done an amazing job. Please go and see it.

And I’m not just saying that because I know everyone involved. Everyone, except Michael Gow.

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Speaking of the Wooden Leg, here's a little video - starring me - talking about the company and our vision and a little bit about Painting with Words & Fire.


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