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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

13th January 2015

My first play… on a Sydney stage

S&SI was in Sydney this weekend to watch a short play I’d written being performed at the New Theatre in Newtown. It was my first play, so I was quite excited. It was part of the “Short and Sweet” festival, which originated in Sydney but now operates in other Australian cities, and a few other countries. You send your script off, and if you’re lucky it gets selected for performance. Mine was picked up by Kiwi actor/director Michael Whalley, who persuaded three professional actor friends to join the cast. They were fantastic.

It’s a comedy called “Alternate Serve” about the Australian custom at large events of serving two different choices for the main course, but allocating them in strict rotation around the table, regardless of whether individual guests actually prefer the beef or the fish. The idea is that if you’re not happy with your choice you find someone else at the table to swap with. In my play a foreigner gets increasingly frustrated when he’s served the “wrong” alternative for each successive course, and fails to find anyone to swap with.

Writing is part of a diplomat’s job – op-eds, digital media and the reporting cables that analyse the country you’re in and try to bring it to life for readers at home. But it’s the first time I’d tried anything like this. It’s quite fun seeing your words and plot acted out on a stage by professionals, and particularly pleasing when something elicits a wave of laughter from the audience.  I was really thrilled when my play was chosen as the one from this week’s ten performances to go through to the final in March. I have to say I enjoyed my brief excursion as a playwright. It will be a great memory of my time in Australia. Not sure I’ll be able to give up the day job just yet though.

About Paul Madden

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017. He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia…

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017.

He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia until February 2015. Prior to this he was British High Commissioner in Singapore from 2007-2011.

A career diplomat, he was previously Managing Director at UK Trade and Investment (2004-2006), responsible for co-ordinating and
implementing international trade development strategies to support
companies across a wide range of business sectors.

As Assistant Director of Information at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (2003-2004) he was responsible for public diplomacy policy,
including managing the FCO funding of the BBC World Service, the British
Council and the Chevening Scholarships programme. He led the team
responsible for the award-winning UK pavilion at the Aichi Expo in Japan

He was Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore from 2000-2003 and has
also served in Washington (1996-2000) and Tokyo (1988-92). Between
1992-96 he worked on EU enlargement and Environmental issues at the FCO
in London.

Before joining FCO he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry
(1980-87) on a range of industrial sectors and trade policy, including
two years as a minister’s Private Secretary.

He has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA
from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School
of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business
Leadership, was published in 2003.

Married to Sarah, with three children, he was born in 1959, in Devon.