On the Couch with Chris Molyneux

Chris-Molyneux-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Chris Molyneux?
I am many things. I am a theatre maker, writer, director, actor, singer, designer and producer. I am a keen advocate for LGBTIQA+ issues and rights. Coming from privileged dysfunction and a broken society marriage from the late 60s and early 70s, I grew up on the receiving end of violence – hidden and protected within the upper circles of Melbourne’s class system. As such – I developed a keen idea of social justice alongside a strong sense of humour and strong skills in understanding people, their emotions, and their interpersonal relationships as a survival mechanism.

In adulthood, it has always been a driving force to try and the leave the world a better place than the one that I was born into – if the work that I do on the earth can leave it safer, better, fairer and easier for one person – then that’s worth the effort. And if I can accomplish some of that with smiles and laughter, then all the better!

My social justice journey began at the University of Melbourne where I campaigned for the establishment of, and then became one of the inaugural, Queer Officers – an official student union representative, focussed on advocacy and referral for LGBTIQA+ students and establishing networks and groups within that student body that still exist today.

Before long, I was producing work for Midsumma Festival and in 2002, Fanny Fight, a surreal musical comedy showed as part of the festival at La Mama Theatre – the first of many – all exploring different aspects of queer life and experience, and all using comedy as the tool to present issues and ideas in an enjoyable, digestible, entertaining way. On years I have not produced my own work, I have been involved in other’s works or sometimes as a volunteer.

I believe the festival is an integral part of creating a better tomorrow for LGBTIQA+ people in Melbourne and participate whenever possible. Most recently, I produced the comedy, Doris & Doris… Go To a Funeral in 2016 with great Melbourne talent, Jack Beeby.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
One of the many life lessons I have learned is to not look back. While I am well aware of the many bad decisions and mistakes that punctuate and litter my personal history – I am of the strong belief that every single one of them was an opportunity to learn and grow. And without all those lessons, hard learnt at times, writing a script like Fish Amethyst would have been impossible. And, even if I do say so myself, I really like this script and it is still even making me laugh. And anything that inspires laughter is welcome on this blue ball we call home, IMHO!

Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by the people I work with. Watching talented artists at work is one of the real blessings of doing the work that I do. Our ability to create, through intellect and emotion, is a privilege and one of the things that separates us from other animals and gives us the lead on dominating this planet. Seeing when people choose to use this ability to create dialogues, through art, as an avenue to discuss and highlight issues is wonderful and always a reason for pride and joy.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
The work I do with advocacy and in the messages I try and impart and questions I raise with my scripts, I am hopeful that I am already making a difference – however small. From little things, big things grow. Even if I only make a difference to one other person. That person will then make a difference to someone else – and with the butterfly effect, hopefully, before long, the difference will reach the world.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
A beach is nice for a swim and cultural capitals are fascinatingly rich with history… But give me a theatre or a rehearsal room with a company of like minded artists is better than any holiday. I am very lucky to be able to draw strength and pleasure from the work that I do. Why would I want to go on a holiday when the recharge offered by holidays is available for me at work. When I really do need to stop and let my body relax and take a break… I guess it’s my bed. After a theatre or rehearsal space, my next favourite spot is in bed!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I always take them to see the thriving and exciting independent theatre and arts scene here in Melbourne. Theatre Works, The Butterfly Club, The Motley Bauhaus… The list is long and we are very lucky to have such. Showing others the wealth of art and culture being constantly created and consumed in Melbourne, fills me with pride and joy.

What are you currently reading?
Ian Turner’s seminal work on Australian children’s rhymes, Cinderella Dressed in Yella. Collected mainly from students in the 60s, it is a wealth of idiosyncratically Australian humour – and from the unedited mouths of children – it is a fascinating and funny read. At times problematic – it also shows the inherent issues around racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia and homophobia once embedded within Australian culture – something that I strongly believe we cannot afford to sweep under the rug. To make a change, we need to acknowledge the problems.

What are you currently listening to?
JOY FM. Just one more reason why Melbourne is such a treasure and wonderful place to live. JOY FM, the only dedicated LGBTIQA+ radio station in Australia – and it’s here in Melbourne! A diversity of music styles and genres and a multitude of voices, there’s always something interesting on JOY – and if not? Then it’s coming up next. And the music is always great!

Happiness is?
Making a difference. Making people laugh. Making people love themselves. Making theatre. Making things and not tearing them down!

What does the future hold for you?
Who knows? Another lesson I have learned well during this lifetime is to expect the unexpected. I hope the future holds many more successful shows, interesting discussions, making a difference and working with talented creatives on worthwhile projects that create joy, love, happiness and positive change.

Chris presents Fish Amethyst at Footscray’s Bluestone Church Arts Space: 7 – 10 February, as part of the 2024 Midsumma Festival. For more information, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.

Image: Chris Molyneux (supplied)