On the Couch with Glenn Elston

Who is Glenn Elston?
Glenn Elston OAM is the founder and Artistic Director of The Australian Shakespeare Company, and Shakespeare Under the Stars.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
What I’d really like to be doing is discovering the Maldives and Galapagos Islands! But if I wasn’t producing theatre, I’d love to be a radio host. It would be stimulating to interview people and discuss what’s happening.

Who inspires you and why?
The American screenwriter and director Robert Benedetti; he’s my greatest inspiration. People often speak about having a ‘lightning moment’ when you’re trying to learn things and develop, and that moment for me was working with him while I was studying at college. He inspired me to get on with it and challenge myself to achieve whatever targets I set for myself.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’d buy the Amazon rainforest with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Or better yet, I’d buy the whole of Brazil, take over the Amazon, and let it grow.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Beswick Falls – 250km east of Katherine in the Northern Territory. It’s very, very secluded, absolutely beautiful and full of wildlife. I have so many happy memories working there since 2003 co-producing Walking With Spirits with Djilpin Aboriginal Arts Corporation. We usually get an extra week to relax and re-connect each year with the community.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream of course, because it’s by far Shakespeare’s funniest play! And The Wind in the Willows, because it’s a great day out in one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world. But jokes aside, Melbourne is a town full of experiences as opposed to attractions – and I don’t do penguins so Phillip Island is off the cards – so I’ll take my visitors out for some fabulous meals, a visit to the State Library and a drive down the Great Ocean Road.

What are you currently reading?
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. It’s been very enlightening so far, and I’ve learnt so much I didn’t initially know about the First Australians. For instance, we’re led to believe that they were hunters and gatherers, when in actual fact, it has been recorded that they were growing crops and organised netting fish and billabongs – they were very sophisticated.

What are you currently listening to?
Pink Martini. They’re fantastic!

Happiness is?
Spending time with my wife and children. Or better yet, being on a big holiday with them.

What does the future hold for you?
We have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline at The Australian Shakespeare Company, which I’m looking forward to getting on with once all our summer shows have opened. I hope the international borders reopen soon so we can return to taking our shows to Kew Gardens in the UK once again and get back to avoiding winter!

Glenn is the Artistic Director at The Australian Shakespeare Company – who are currently presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Wind in the Willows in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens until 24 January; The Wind in the Willows in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens until 24 January; and Macbeth at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens from 30 January 2021.

For more information, and all shows on offer, visit: www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au for details.

Image: Glenn Elston – courtesy of The Australian Shakespeare Company