On the Couch with Chris Bendall

Chris Bendall - photo by Robert CattoWho is Chris Bendall?
I am the CEO of Critical Stages, a national touring company based in The Rocks in Sydney. I am a Creative Producer, Director, Dramaturg and lover of all things theatre. I am also currently on the board of Theatre Network New South Wales and have been a Helpmann Awards panelist for the past 5 years. I also ride a scooter, love to get out on the water on my kayak, and am a bit too obsessed with following the absurdity of politics.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Get to the gym more often, and spend less time on social media obsessing about modern politics.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m constantly inspired by all the many artists that I get to collaborate with in my role. I see a lot of theatre, and there are so many playwrights, theatre makers, directors, designers and performers who inspire me working around the country at the moment.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I believe that in the potential of art to change lives. And since making and producing live theatre is what I do, and really all I have ever done and know how to do, then I have to hope that my work in taking live performing arts to audiences around regional, rural and remote Australia is making a small difference – whether it’s sharing laughter, offering a new perspective on the world or just sharing a great story.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Anywhere with Sun, sand and blue skies. If there’s some vineyards too that makes it perfect, so Margaret River in WA would have to the one of my favourite spots to visit for a holiday.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I like to take friends to local cultural attractions: The MCA, the Art Gallery, The Rocks, to the theatre – and to the beach. Plus Taronga Zoo, those giraffes have the best view in Sydney.

What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Mephisto by Klaus Mann. I’m fascinated by 1930s Berlin, and it’s all the more relevant today, given the madness taking hold in America.

What are you currently listening to?
In rehearsals for Stones in his Pockets we are listening to the wonderful Irish band Kila, whose music features quite a bit in the show, as well as some more familiar Irish music from the 90s when play is set, like the Cranberries. Outside of rehearsals, I’m enjoying listening to some French bands Nouvelle Vague and Deluxe.

Happiness is?
My two beautiful daughters.

What does the future hold for you?
This is our first production for the year, and there are plenty more to follow. I love joining our tours whenever I can to meet different audiences around Australia, so the future probably holds more theatre, more travel and more touring!

Chris is directing Marie Jones’ multi award-winning comedy, Stones in His Pockets at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres on Saturday 18 March, before an 8 week national tour throughout News South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. For more information, visit: www.criticalstages.com.au for details.

Image: Chris Bendall – photo by Robert Catto