On the Couch with Justin Nott

Justin-Nott-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Justin Nott?
I’m a mid-30s queer theatre-maker and playwright based in Naarm/Melbourne. I’ve been working in the creative industry for over ten years directing plays, writing them, performing in my own live art shows, running queer arts festivals in Melbourne and London, and generally arting about wherever I can. I’m also a big lover of sad songs and love a night on the microphone belting out some break-up bangers.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Tough one! I told my therapist I might die if I didn’t do theatre. He wasn’t too supportive of that! If I wasn’t flinging my theatre around I’d probably sing in a band.

Who inspires you and why?
I have so many inspirations for so many different things in life. Sarah Kane is a major inspiration for my playwriting in the way she absolutely wrecks and reconstructs the form to understand ourselves. I’m also deeply inspired by what I recently called arty pop stars: Miley Cyrus, Lykke Li, fka Twigs (genius) and Lorde. Mostly Miley though. She’s got a relentless energy and curiosity and gusto for her creativity. Her outlook on life and love and sex and queerness is also brash and honest. And she can totally rip apart a tune in the best way. But really, and I’ve never told anyone this, J. Lo is constantly in my head whenever I think I’m being lazy. She’s a machine.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Besides theatre? Give me a wine or a reason and I’ll start barking about the lie of capitalism. So, I’d probably just throw myself into that project. Expose and dismantle the BS systems of governance, economics and industry to put life back into living. It’s all pretty clear to me: if you work for a business that business has to earn money from you. Inevitably that will skew the hierarchy to the point where almost all of us are bottom feeders and the top of the pyramid is just a few fat cats. Except, that’s already happened. We’re there. And it has ruined the environment, fuels poverty, decimated the arts and education, demands inequality in a million ways – gender, sexuality, race, geography. Someone tweeted the other day, “Capitalism = you can be rich. Communism = no one can be rich. Socialism = you can be rich but no one can be poor.” Wait, what was the question again?

Favourite holiday destination and why?
East London. I lived there for two years and it became a second home in my heart. I have so many gorgeous, creative, wild, and outrageously fabulous friends over there. There’s also this undeniable vibration in that city. It vibrates with possibility, creativity, and social energy. And a London summer is like a punk rock gig: everyone is sweaty, fashionable and screaming with excitement. They also LOVE theatre. I vibe that.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The pub, haha. Melbourne’s a funny town. I don’t think of attractions so much as living. I’d take them to the Black Cat on Brunswick St. Great music, cool strange folks who talk to you, comfy couches. Their bouncers are also absolute dolls. That’s rare.

What are you currently reading?
Darling Days: A New York City Childhood by iO Tillett Wright. A sprawling and fierce autobiography about growing up trans in the desperate New York arts scene during the 90s.

What are you currently listening to?
LIZZO!!!! There’s a scene in Variations I wrote specifically based on hearing Lizzo’s banter at her gig in London. She speaks and you believe it in your bones that you are perfect. I tried to find that voice in myself. And her tunes are such fun and so sexy and, yeah, make you believe you’re it.

Happiness is?
Friendship in the sun. With wine. And music.

What does the future hold for you?
More playwriting, I hope! And directing. But there’s something exquisite and really bloody hard about squeezing words out of your soul onto a page and then sharing it with the world. So I’ll keep creating for my audiences. I’d really love to tour my work around the country and to the UK. And one day direct a film. But more immediately, I’d like my future to hold a Miley concert with me in the mosh, please.

Justin is the Writer and Director of Variations or Exit Music – which will be presented at the La Mama Theatre Courthouse: 15 – 25 September 2022. For more information, visit: www.lamama.com.au for details.

Image: Justin Nott (supplied)