On the Couch with Henry Kelly

Henry-Kelly-photo-by-Claudia-HowarthWho is Henry Kelly?
Henry is a queer, transgender artist from Southern Tasmania, currently based in Naarm/Melbourne. My work is predominantly as an actor, theatre maker and writer, but I also dapple in the world of visual art. I graduated in the inaugural year of the Victorian College of the Arts BFA Theatre program, and despite my graduate year being a pandemic, I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate on a variety of new Australian works. Through my work I am passionate about championing queer stories, and interrogating gender and modern masculinity.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
My practice is constantly growing and shifting, and I’m very open to following the path of my curiosities. I’m of the opinion that what I was interested in yesterday, informs what I explore today, and that nothing is wasted. If I feel like doing something differently, I’m just going to try it, and see how it feels.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m very inspired by musicians like Perfume Genius and Moses Sumney, who are not only incredibly talented at their craft, but are aesthetic and performance driven. Artists such as Henry Darger, Patti Smith, and David Wojnarowicz – as well as my peers.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I want to be a trans artist that has a body of work to look to as reference. I want to be celebrated as a trans actor and story teller, so that young trans and gender diverse people have someone to look to. That in my work, they see themselves represented authentically. Seeing yourself not only existing, but flourishing, is so powerful.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I do enjoy going back to my family home in Tasmania. It’s peaceful, and I can reset and relax. I love travel and going to new places, but at this point the holiday I’m craving is about me being able to unwind.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I love to take people wandering up and down Sydney Road. There’s so many wonderful little op shops, record stores, bakeries and bookstores. There’s something for everyone, and its close enough to my place that I can convince them to come back to my apartment for a plant tour.

What are you currently reading?
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I’m a big fan of the film, and so far I’m really intrigued by Eva’s character, and I’m not sure if I like her, which I love.

What are you currently listening to?
I mainly listen to podcasts, my all-time favourite podcast is called Dungeons and Daddies – a real play D&D podcast about four dads on a quest to find their lost sons. The second season had just started airing and it is so fun and so silly.

Happiness is?
Lying on my best friend’s couch under a weighted blanket in cosy silence, as we binge watch something that makes us nostalgic.

What does the future hold for you?
More writing, more art, and more opportunities to play and learn. Unapologetic joy.

Henry has written and performs in Call Me By Your Dead Name in a strictly limited season at The Butterfly Club, Melbourne from 2 May 2022. For more information, visit: www.thebutterflyclub.com for details.

Image: Henry Kelly – photo by Claudia Howarth