On the Couch with Dr David Fenton

David Fenton oncWho is Dr David Fenton?
CEO of Metro Arts, theatre director and performance maker.

What would you do differently to what you do now?  
Everything I’m doing now is both familiar and different as I have only been CEO of Metro Arts for two and half months.

Who inspires you and why?
I think certain qualities of people inspire me. People who are creative, tenacious and compassionate. People who make change for the good of others rather than themselves. People who are open minded and appreciate nuance, and of course people who have the capacity to survive, forgive and celebrate difference. As a theatre director and performance maker I see a lot of these qualities in some artists, and as I have moved from one project to another over the years what ever I am working on inspires me. So specifically – Oscar Wilde inspires me at the moment because I am directing De Profundis at Brisbane Powerhouse opening in late April. Wilde had all these qualities in spades but more importantly he was a man before his time – a living anachronism.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
My difference starts in my own back yard one person at a time. All I have ever wanted to change is our capacity as a species to dispel of wonton ignorance, to celebrate learning, knowledge and education. If we could dispel wonton ignorance, ignorance perpetuated by ideology, all bigotry, racism, sexism and oppression would crumble. Through knowledge we are our best selves.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Copenhagen – the Danes are so civilized, so progressive and so aesthetically mature.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I’d take them to Metro Arts to see the big ‘Old Broad’, as we say, just to see the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for me professionally, and I take them to GOMA, because it’s world class

What are you currently reading?
Oh all my life I have had a vain little fantasy that I would be asked this question and the nagging concern that when asked it would be something trashy and inane. The reason being is that I find it very hard to read when I am coming up to production. However I am reading Morrissey – Autobiography, because there is a connection between Wilde as gay poet and Morrissey as a gay lyricist – both of whom were and are socially critical. I’m also reading The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, to understand ongoing themes and motifs of Wilde’s work. They are very moving.

What are you currently listening to?
Feather on the Breath of God by Erin Jacobsen – it’s a throw back to my early days as a student; the spiritual quality of the work relaxes me.

Happiness is?
An illusion – just be present in the moment, whatever it offers, and accept and harness that.

What does the future hold for you?
Work, creativity, engaging with great artists, making a difference culturally in Brisbane and Australia through excellence in contemporary arts development and practice. That’s our vision at Metro Arts, that’s my aspiration – ‘ Metro Arts; Developing the future of contemporary arts, now’.

David Fenton has held significant artistic, managerial and executive positions throughout his twenty-eight years in the industry. Most recently, he was the Head of Performance Practices at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

He completed his practice-led PhD in Performance Innovation at Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries Faculty in 2007, for which he won the Philip Parsons Prize for performance as research from The Australian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies.

Significant positions include Artistic Director/CEO of Northern Ireland’s Replay Theatre Company, Festival Director for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, Manager of Events and Entertainment at Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Artistic Director of Riverina Theatre Company and General Manager of Quality and Product Development for Message Train.

David has directed over sixty-five productions throughout his twenty-eight years in the industry for many companies including Bell Shakespeare, La Boite Theatre Company, QUT/QPAC, NIDA, JUTE in North Queensland. He is the producer and founder of The Human Company, a Brisbane based independent theatre company specialising in live and digital performance. His children’s work, The Empty City, made its world premiere at the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2013, followed by a season at the Awesome Festival, in Western Australia.

David’s latest work, Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis will be presented at the Brisbane Powerhouse from 22 April 2015. For more information, visit: www.metroarts.com.au or www.brisbanepowerhouse.org for details.

Image: Dr David Fenton – photo courtesy of Metro Arts Brisbane

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