Tessa Leong, Director

Tessa Leong builds whole worlds as a director. Her experience collaborating and pushing the boundaries on how we experience art is truly special. And Is there anything more 'Make Nice' than creating your own all-female theatre collective!?  

What do you do?

I work in theatre as a director, deviser, dramaturg and collaborator.

Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?

No, should I get one?

What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?

Starting my own theatre company, isthisyours? when I finished drama school felt like a great start to making my own choices and making some great work with friends who are great theatre makers.

Being accepted to participate in an artist seminar at Festival D'Avignon in 2014 with artists from across Europe was truly inspiring.

Receiving funding for our latest isthisyours? show Angelique which will premiere this year at Her Majesty's Theatre has lead to a very fulfilling creative process and long-term engagement with great artists.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

I'm about to go to Switzerland to continue work on an evolving performace installation Blue is the Distance, then Angelique will premiere in Adelaide later this year.

What is your dream project?

There are so many! One is a large scale, multi-site work that is about women and rage which would close off the streets! (A dis/organised riot perhaps?) I have also been thinking about starting a yearly performance event.

Angelique , by isthisyours? image by  Ben McGee

Angelique, by isthisyours? image by Ben McGee

What’s something surprising about you that we might not know?

I went swimming with whales when I was in Tonga a few years ago. It was utterly captivating. I thought my friend was making silly whale sounds under the water to make me laugh - but it was actually the whales singing!

If you could choose to hear from any female contemporary at a Make Nice event, who would it be and why?

Sarah Ahmed. A firece intellectual who thinks and acts smart. I am sure her words would bring loads to a crowd of creative women.

What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?

Don't rush a cup of tea. Making it or drinking it.

Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?

Yes, I made my own…first year out of drama school all the women from our year level formed our theatre company. I have also sought out many women in the arts to keep in contact with. I write daily emails to one artist in Melbourne, send a cardboard box filled with items back and forth to aother in Canada and write extremely irregular letters to another in Adelaide.

Can you share a creative experience that you have found defining?

When I was thirteen, I really wanted to see Lenny Kravitz play at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. Mum, thinking I would say no, said the only way I could go was if she went with me. I agreed and learnt that you should do anything to get to the things want to see - even be embarrassed by your mum!

Best We Forget , by isthisyours? image: Nick Bowers

Best We Forget, by isthisyours? image: Nick Bowers

The Hole, at Falls Festival - image by Lisa Hirmer

The Hole, at Falls Festival - image by Lisa Hirmer

What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?

Reading: I have just come off a Charlotte Wood reading binge in 2016 - The Natural Way of Things was deeply gripping in so many ways. After I read that I couldn't stop reading her work.

Listening: PJ Harvey and Mallrat.

Live stuff: Back to Back Theatre’s Lady Eats Apple and Motus’ MDLSX

What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?

I wish the culture in theatre and performance was less around 'pitching' ideas which I find prefers young confident males who are taken seriously despite their lack of experience.

What do you want to be asked about that no one ever asks you?

Are you good at digging holes?

How can we find our more about your work?

instagram / twitter

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?  

Charlotte Wood.

Swimming Pool  by Tessa Leong with PYT Fairfield, image Jacqui Manning

Swimming Pool by Tessa Leong with PYT Fairfield, image Jacqui Manning