On the Couch with Leah Shelton

Leah Shelton AAR On the CouchWho is Leah Shelton?
Performance artist. Psycho siren. Part-time magician. People may have seen me onstage pole dancing on a hills hoist in my solo show Terror Australis, or making a red hanky disappear in the cult cabaret show La Clique, or dressed as a latex-clad barbie-doll in a Spiegeltent with Little Death Club, dancing on top of water with Polytoxic, re-enacting the death of Bambi’s mum, or squashing my whole body (and three legs) inside a suitcase.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
That’s a great question. I’m not sure? I can’t quite imagine not living this absurd life of dressing up and being an idiot onstage. Maybe in another life I’d be a mathematician … or an activist?

Who inspires you and why?
The people I work with. Ursula Martinez is one hell of an inspiration – inimitable, unapologetic, fierce, political performance art provocateur. She’s the Director of my new solo show Bitch On Heat and also taught me her infamous red hanky magic act – which I have since been lucky enough to perform all over the world.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I hope I’m doing it! My art is political, and it’s a way that I can see to making a difference. It’s a way of asking questions about the current state of the world, of generating a conversation with people, of asking people to see the world in a different way.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love Trieste in the north of Italy (up near Venice, just near the border of Slovenia and Croatia). My sister and her family live there and I’ve been lucky enough to spend lots of time there. It’s all about the lifestyle; beautiful views over the water, incredible food sourced directly from the region, and great wine. They have this amazing local farm tradition, the Osmize, where small farms open their doors to local visitors to try their food and wine.

I have memories of sitting amongst an olive grove, people with picnic blankets and guitars, singing and drinking and eating produce that had come directly from the vineyard and farm we could see in front of us. The eat local movement, over 200 years old in that region!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Well my hometown is currently Brisbane, so GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) is always a favourite go-to for me. And alongside the art there’s an incredible fine-dining restaurant there too if we decide to get really fancy.

What are you currently reading?
Vagina. A New Biography by Naomi Wolf. Let’s just say it’s juicy… and quite scientific in parts.

What are you currently listening to?
Really into Billie Eilish’s newly released album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Happiness is?
Knowing that I, and the people I love, are happy and healthy and living their best lives.

What does the future hold for you?
Bitch On Heat is out on the road and I’m also very excited to be taking my first solo work, Terror Australis, on tour throughout France later this year. Looking forward to sharing some outback horror hitchhiking tales with the French. And sampling their wine!

Leah presents Bitch On Heat at Theatre Works for a limited season from 8 May 2019. For more information, visit: www.theatreworks.org.au for details.

Image: Leah Shelton (supplied)