On the Couch with John Bell

John Bell Arts Review On the Couch - photo by Pierre ToussaintWho is John Bell?  
Founder and recently retired Artistic Director of The Bell Shakespeare Company, and before that, The Nimrod… actor, producer, director, with a love of painting and classical music. An Associate Artist of The Royal Shakespeare Company, a sucker for museums, ruins and cathedrals; a beach bum who loves kids, dogs and bush walks. A rationalist materialist and fan of AC Grayling, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would be a painter – that was my first ambition until I discovered Theatre… I love looking at art and dabble a little when I have time.

Who inspires you and why?
In life I am inspired by people who volunteer their services to the community; we owe them so much – the Fireys, the Surf Lifesavers, etc. In Art I am inspired by so many geniuses, especially the Maverick ones: Shakespeare most of all, but also Goya, Fred Williams, Beethoven, Mozart, Orson Welles, Fellini, Seamus Heaney and many, many others.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Build thousands of free schools throughout what we call the Third World.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My second home in Killcare on the NSW Central Coast: peace and quiet and a loving, caring community.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
In Sydney – King St, Newtown… In Melbourne – Brunswick St. They are both authentic and lively.

What are you currently reading?
The Good Book by AC Grayling – a Bible for atheists.

What are you currently listening to?
Lots of Beethoven.

Happiness is?
A family day with Anna, my daughters Hilary and Lucy and the five grandchildren – precious times.

What does the future hold for you?
Lots of boutique projects like the one with Tinalley – interesting, lots of fun and no responsibility.

John will be a special guest with the Tinalley String Quartet in Speak Less Than You Know at the Sydney Opera House (26 & 27 September) and Melbourne Recital Centre (4 October). For more information, visit: www.tinalley.com.au for details.

Image: John Bell AO – photo by Pierre Toussaint