Queensland Theatre Artistic Director, Lee Lewis

Lee Lewis to Direct ‘Mouthpiece’ for Queensland Theatre at The Playhouse

Since taking over the position of Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre, Lee Lewis has overseen David Williamson’s ‘Emerald City’, a preview of ‘Triple X’ and a global pandemic.

Lewis is the first to admit it is not at all how she planned to start her tenure. But she is about to get her show back on the road even if the show, or the road, does not resemble the original plan. 

“It looks nothing like I could have imagined and I have a pretty big imagination,” she laughs.

However, despite the rough start, she believes her “unique” beginning to the top job has given her “a great way to get to know this extraordinary company.” As such, Brisbane audiences are about to get to know more about Lee Lewis. It was announced recently that Lewis is making her directorial debut for the company with the play ‘Mouthpiece’ by Kieran Hurley.  

Lewis admits while there is something “slightly petrifying” about making her first show up here in Queensland she believes that ‘Mouthpiece’ is the perfect play for the world Brisbane audiences are navigating. 

“Sometimes there is a bit of magic inside a play that draws you towards it. You don’t know why you just know there is a compulsion. I have to do this play.”   

Lewis describes the play as “the right story to tell right now… It’s about the intense connection between two people in a desperate place in their lives and isn’t that where we are all at right now?”  

The two-hander is set to star Queensland Theatre favourite Christen O’Leary, a casting choice that Lewis describes as “a little bit of wish fulfilment on my part”.  Newcomer, Jayden Popik, has also been cast in the iconic production, a decision which Lewis is similarly thrilled about. “How do I talk about Jayden… As a Director I go ‘I can’t do this play unless I find someone that knows this part’”. And Popik certainly fits the bill.           

Queensland Theatre - 'Mouthpiece'
Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Lee Lewis with ‘Mouthpiece’ actors Christen O’Leary and Jayden Popik.

Lewis moved to Queensland Theatre from the Sydney-based company Griffin Theatre but admits that she has long dreamed of coming to the Sunshine State.

 “I grew up … almost jealous of Queensland with its beautiful one day, perfect the next image. Queensland was this golden place in my childhood.” 

And perhaps because of that, she isn’t taking the job as Artist Director or the job as Director of ‘Mouthpiece’ lightly.

 “The whole world is watching Queensland at the moment because we are reopening… so I feel the responsibility that Queensland has to the rest of the country to not mess it up.”  

Sitting in the foyer of the now COVID-Safe Bille Brown Theatre following the announcement of ‘The Holidays’, Lewis was quick to praise the team around her and how they came together during the lockdown period.

 “We’ve pulled together as a team to try to get back to what we do best which is tell people’s stories,” she said.

Looking forward, Lewis remains coy about exactly what Season 2021 will look like.“I’m not going to tell you about next year’s season. There is going to be a season launch for that” … however, she was willing to let a few details slip. 

“Look, obviously we took a huge financial hit this year which means for the 2021 season we’ve had to make some difficult choices,” she admits. Some of the shows that should have been a part of the 2020 season will happen in 2021.

“We can’t do that with all of the shows unfortunately and anything new we put on will be at a much-reduced budget,” however, while a plan exists it’s also adaptable. Like the audience, we will deal with next year one step at a time.”

Despite everything that has happened in her 10 or so months in the top job, Lewis is just excited to get audiences back into the Bille Brown Theatre and The Playhouse for their upcoming shows of ‘The Holidays’ and ‘Mouthpiece’.

 “As a company that is actually built to service a local community we want to get back to what we do best which is sharing stories.”  

For more information about Queensland Theatre and their upcoming shows, visit Queensland Theatre’s website

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