On the Couch with Briony Dunn

Briony Dunn AAR On the CouchWho is Briony Dunn?
I’m a theatre director and acting tutor who has travelled the world but is now based in my hometown, Melbourne. I’m a passionate, hands-on person who loves rebellion, space, good company and good design. I’ve just started a theatre company with one of my best friends and am loving the journey that has put me on. Our first production as a team is ‘night, Mother by Marsha Norman. It’s Ibsen’s A Doll’s House for the 20th century and the play I have to direct.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Hmm, I’m pretty happy. I’m doing what I wanted to be doing since I was 15 years old. If pressed, I’d like to have been a professional ballerina because the purity of the work is extraordinary.

Who inspires you and why?
For this one I have to go with a whole occupation: Humanitarian lawyers inspire me. Their work makes me ask what I’m doing in the world. Not in a self-pitying kind of way. And not in a “does art matter?” manner either. I’m perfectly satisfied that art does matter and find it disingenuous to question it. But humanitarian lawyers? I would gladly give up my spot on the boat for a humanitarian lawyer.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Become a humanitarian lawyer. If I couldn’t do that, inspire others around me to become better versions of themselves. Everything gets better after that happens.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Ahhh, Venice. That light! All over Italy actually. It’s one of the places that really makes me feel like I can stop still for a very long time. Or, a cosy cottage somewhere in the Australian bush. Bushwalking. Open fire. Cosy couch. And close to somewhere that makes good food.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
My backyard in the sunshine, on a warm spring day. It’s where all the best memories happen. Later in the afternoon we’d stroll through Melbourne’s alleyways, tasting the good hot chocolate whilst people watching.

What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a lot of the plays of UK playwright Alice Birch, which I feel a real affinity to. I’m trying to read The Handmaid’s Tale because I received it as a gift and feel very behind the zeitgeist not having read it yet, and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale because it’s been on my list for years.

What are you currently listening to?
Research music. After ‘night, Mother I’ve got three more plays coming up in the next twelve months; two for the acting course I run and one for my theatre company Iron Lung. So the music on my current play list ranges from Ravel to Riot Girl rock, Tchaikovsky to the vast scores of Coen Brothers films.

Happiness is?
The feel of my children’s feet and their faces – they’re getting a bit older now so I’m starting to bug them with how much I want to touch them. Satisfaction after a good day’s rehearsing, steeped in text analysis. My partner and I reminiscing about our 20’s, strangely enough.

What does the future hold for you?
I’d like to think I can say. I’ll plan for good health, lots of love, kindness and making viscerally vicious theatre. But really, whatever it damn well chooses.

Briony will direct ‘night, Mother by Marsha Norman for Iron Lung Theatre at Chapel Off Chapel: 7 – 17 August 2019. For more information, visit: www.ironlungtheatre.com for details.

Image: Briony Dunn