On the Couch with Mark Lee

Mark Lee AAR On the CouchWho is Mark Lee?
He is an actor, sometime director, sometime singer/songwriter still trying to find his way through what he does. Still learning, failing sometimes but with the hunger to do what he has been doing for some time now. And realizing how talking about oneself in the third person is a little strange – so I’ll stop it.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
As I’ve had no formal training as an actor and no tertiary experience, I would like to have studied what I do through more academic channels. Learning on the go – as romantic as it sometimes seems – usually means doing everything the hard way. There was a great deal of banging my head against a wall, which, quite frankly, I could do without. Though, in fairness, the occasional epiphany has surprised and delighted me.

Who inspires you and why?
Over the years there have been many who have sparked the fire I me. Directors, such as Peter Weir, John Duigan and more recently stage directors such as Mark Kilmurry and Damien Ryan and his Sport for Jove Ensemble. Actors such as the late and wonderful Fred Parslow, Jeanette Cronin (who is still very much with us!) and more recently a young ensemble of Albury actors (River at the End of the Road – Hothouse Theatre) who helped me remember why I do what I do. Then there is my family, my daughters Romi (who produces films) and Katie (who works for Headspace) and my wife Marianne who has supported me in my work (sometimes my folly) for a long time.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
As I grow older and see the world grow smaller, resources diminish, the massive displacement of peoples from all over and the rise of right wing ideologues spewing their absurd and hateful versions of nationalism, I despair for where we’re headed. I despair for my children and their children. Now – despair is one thing but I need to walk the walk – so I need to put more time into organizations that actually make a difference. Make the effort and find out what one person can contribute. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes if you can lend your voice then so be it. As my time becomes palpably more finite, now is a great time to address this. This is the plan.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Anyplace I can travel with my wife Marianne and share the experience. Too long, usually through work, I’ve travelled alone and so I’m playing catch up.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
When friends come to town, usually I cook a large meal. If I haven’t seen people for a while I love to be at home, wining and dining them. I’m not too bad at that. I prefer it to a lot of external stimulus, where we can share and relax.

What are you currently reading?
At the moment I’m rehearsing a one man play – The Time Machine – it’s a big talk and so my reading is limited to my lines and the H. G. Wells’ novella. However, I have just finished Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End. I’m a big fan of his work (recommended to me by my Mother) and this new one is an absolute cracker!

What are you currently listening to?
Ahhh… I have been listening to – chronologically – an old inspiration of mine, Neil Young. I first heard him when I was thirteen and the fascination has continued for forty-seven years. There is something about this man who is so completely driven by his muse that I can’t help but be drawn to. At the moment the album on my player is Psychedelic Pill, with Crazy Horse. Also, there has been a little Bach and Jason Isbell.

Happiness is?
My work, I’ve never been tired of it or bored by it, even when things haven’t turned out so well. My family and those almost indefinable moments that you let pass when youthful hunger is chasing other game. These moments, and I suppose that they become clearer or develop different meanings as you get older, are not to be sneezed at! Oh yes, my little black Labrador – Scoutie – our excursions to the park each afternoon, with football and intent are – now I don’t want to get hippy dippy with you but – cleansing.

What does the future hold for you?
Getting The Time Machine on and hopefully taking it on the road and possibly overseas. It’s a beautiful work, a joy to perform and one I could continue performing for a while. After that well… that’s the beauty of this kind of work – you never know what’s around the corner.

Mark stars in Strange Duck Productions’ The Time Machine at the Playhouse – NIDA Theatres: 11 April – 2 May 2018. For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.ticketek.com.au for details.

Image: Mark Lee (supplied)