Queensland Theatre’s Chair, Elizabeth Jameson, has announced their new Artistic Director for 2020 will be Griffin Theatre Company’s current Artistic Director and CEO, Lee Lewis.
Taking over from Sam Strong in January 2020, Lewis will hit the ground running as the company continues growing from strength to strength.
In the new year, Queensland Theatre will celebrate 50-years of theatre with a diverse and interesting new season. Jameson spoke of the importance in finding someone who shares the same outlook and hopes for the future.
“Next year we will celebrate 50 years of being Queensland Theatre: we’ve consolidated the company as the national home of new stories, we will stage the theatrical event of the year in the world premiere of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry and we will welcome Lee Lewis as Artistic Director, taking over from Sam Strong who leaves this company in extraordinary shape,” Jameson said.
“Queensland Theatre has made real its vision of leading from Queensland, with key achievements including a new theatre, record audiences and growth, national industry leadership through gender parity of writers and directors for four successive years, more diverse voices, more new stories and world premieres, and the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories. It is important that our next Artistic Director share our vision and Lee Lewis most certainly does.”
Outgoing Artistic Director, Sam Strong, spoke of his delight with Lewis’ taking the reins of the Queensland Theatre company, especially as they’ve worked together many times.
“Lee Lewis and I have shared an office, we’ve co-directed shows, and we have sat together with playwrights into the early hours of the morning talking about their work, and now we will have passed the baton of custodianship of two great companies in Griffin and Queensland Theatre,” Strong said.
“Lee is an artist and a leader of the highest integrity and intelligence. I’m incredibly proud of how Queensland Theatre has transformed in the last few years, and I can’t wait to see where Lee, in collaboration with the Executive Director Amanda Jolly, take it in the future.”
Lewis is no stranger to success, with many of her productions having been nominated for awards. Most notably, in 2016, her work on Angus Cerini’s ‘The Bleeding Tree’ saw the production win three Helpmann Awards including Best Play, Best Actress in a Leading Role, and Best Director.
Her directorial successes are many – for Griffin Theatre Company she has directed ‘Prima Facie’ (which has its Queensland premiere in Season 2020), ‘The Almighty Sometimes’, ‘Kill Climate Deniers’, ‘The Homosexuals or Faggots’, the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award-winning ‘Rice’ written by Michele Lee, ‘Gloria’, ‘8 Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography’, ‘Masquerade’ (co-directed with Sam Strong), ‘Emerald City’, ‘A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il’, ‘The Serpent’s Table’, ‘Silent Disco’, ‘The Bull The Moon and the Coronet of Stars’, ‘The Call’, ‘A Hoax’ and ‘The Nightwatchman’.
She’s also worked for Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Theatre Company, The Hayes, Australian Theatre for Young People, Darwin Festival, NIDA, WAAPA, and Melbourne Theatre Company. In 2014, she directed David Williamson’s Rupert’, which toured to Washington DC as part of the World Stages International Arts Festival and to Sydney’s Theatre Royal.
Growing up in country New South Wales, Lee started as an actor in regional theatre. After completing a BA (Hons) at the University of Sydney, she moved to New York to study under Andrei Serban and Anne Bogart at Columbia University completing an MFA (Acting). A successful New York career as an actor saw her working on and off-Broadway with the great directors Julie Taymor, Robert Woodruff, Andre Gregory, Andrei Serban, and Tina Landau.
Returning to Australia in 2001, she was the first person to receive a Master of Fine Arts from NIDA in Directing. Her thesis was published by Currency Press as a Platform Paper under the title Cross-Racial Casting: Changing the Face of Australian Theatre.
In 2020, she will make the move to our sunshine state to begin her next chapter. Lewis spoke of this new exciting opportunity with the company, due to its enormous potential for growth.
“The company needs to continue to commit to the directions and ideals laid down in the last five years so that the home audience can start to deeply own and celebrate the achievements of its theatre company,” Lewis said.
“Because that is what we all want in the end isn’t it? Great nights in the theatre watching great actors telling great stories in surprising ways that make you want to rush home and insist that your daughter, your son, your best friend, your aunt who is a nurse and doesn’t have a lot of time off, must buy a ticket and see it. Building audience means making sure every show counts.”
Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the next Artistic Director will share the richness of vision that Sam Strong brought to the position to help the company grow and thanked Strong for his time working with the company.
“Lee Lewis is known for leading creative teams, for her collaborative work, for celebrating new work and revisioning stories for the stage. She has curated seven successful seasons at Griffin, and it is fantastic that she will now call Queensland home. It is an exciting time for Queensland Theatre, “ Enoch said.
“I would also like to thank Sam Strong for his outstanding achievements and significant contribution to arts in Queensland, as the Artistic Director of our flagship theatre company. We wish Sam all the best and look forward to his return next year in a directorial capacity. Queensland has a thriving arts sector and the Queensland Government is proud to support and celebrate Queensland Theatre’s 50th-anniversary milestone in 2020, and beyond.”
Lee Lewis will commence her position as Artistic Director with Queensland Theatre in January 2020.
For more information on Queensland Theatre’s upcoming season, visit their website.