On the Couch with Ben Grant

AAR Ben Grant - photo by Amelia DowdWho is Ben Grant?
He’s a cis-gendered white middle class man with all the inherent privilege that entails, and also a theatre maker with a longstanding commitment to new Australian stories: a performer, composer, writer, sound-designer and dramaturg who’s been collaborating and creating for over 30 years.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Given the daunting conceptual and technical heights inherent in the operatic form, perhaps I should reconsider using it in The Rug as a lens to view the dank horror of the angry Aussie white man. But what says privilege better than opera?

Who inspires you and why?
Artists responding thoughtfully to the world: whether in a theatre, digitally or on a brick wall, and everyone pushing back at our country’s increasingly hard heart. I guess people striving towards a more compassionate community inspire me.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Practice tiny daily acts of generosity and kindness.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
There’s nothing like traveling somewhere you can’t understand the local language: it feels mind expanding and slightly thrilling. Then again the majestic Great Ocean Road is just down the coast…

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I don’t think you can go past Victoria Market for the humanity, history, produce and prices, and then after a picnic in the Botanical Gardens, nick down to The Tote to check out some local live music.

What are you currently reading?
Preparation for The Rug has included the revelatory Jandamarra And The Bunuba Resistance by Banjo Woorunmurra and Howard Pedersen, the influential Opera As Drama by Joseph Kerman, and the chilling Books Of Blood by the master Clive Barker.

What are you currently listening to?
Mostly I’m in an operatic whirlwind: Purcell, Verdi, Debussy, Ades, Benjamin and Czernowin. Then to refresh my palate, I dip into fresh Aussie flavours like Mojo Juju, Miss Blanks, Kudzai or Courtney Barnett.

Happiness is?
Finding a way to spend your life doing what you love.

What does the future hold for you?
Fingers crossed, engaged responses to The Rug.

Ben has created and performs in The Rug – an electropera for one pale male at the La Mama Courthouse from 31 October 2018. For more information, visit: www.lamama.com.au for details.

Image: Ben Grant – photo by Amelia Dowd