On the Couch with Matthew Lutton

MT_Matthew Lutton_Pia JohnsonWho is Matthew Lutton?
I’m a theatre and opera director, who was recently appointed the Artistic Director and co-CEO of Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
The arts have always been the place for me. At school I fantasied (naively) about conducting an orchestra, or being a Hollywood cinematographer, but then I started directing theatre. I haven’t looked back since.

Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who has an encyclopedic knowledge of history or politics always inspires me (and makes me a little jealous). I listen intensely wishing I could write it all down, or had a photographic memory!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Inspire greater empathy and curiosity about the experiences of others. Or as Arundhati Roy puts it: To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And to never, never to forget.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth. I holiday there every summer with close friends. There’s nothing to do but swim, basking in the sun, read, eat, drink, and play Cards Against Humanity.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Well I always invite them to Malthouse Theatre (naturally!) and then a circuit of hideaways in the CBD – the rooftop at Loop or cocktails at Eau-de-Vie, dinner at Supernormal, or a late night tipple at The Supper Club.

What are you currently reading?
I rarely read one book at a time (because of my short attention span and erratic schedule). But my backpack currently contains Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World and Tom Rob Smith’s The Farm, and dozens of drafts of I am a miracle (the new play I am directing by Declan Greene).

What are you currently listening to?
Itunes says my most recent plays are: Choir for Young Believers, Django Django, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Shostakovich’s String Quartet in C Minor, Ben Frost, the Under the Skin soundtrack, and Max Richter.

Happiness is?
Visiting a new country, summer at my family home with friends and the dogs, and anarchic dancing as the sun rises.

What does the future hold for you?
Leading the Malthouse Theatre into its next chapter – so I’ll be talking to lots of Australian artists, listening to lots of Melbourne theatre-goers, and leading the company to create theatre that isn’t afraid of being complex, whilst always having a subversive and provocative edge.

Matthew Lutton is a theatre and opera director based in Melbourne, who has recently been appointed Artistic Director at the Malthouse Theatre, where he has directed Night on Bald Mountain, The Bloody Chamber, Dance of Death, Pompeii, L.A., On the Misconception of Oedipus, Die Winterreise, The Trial and Tartuffe.

Matthew has directed for many of Australia’s most prominent theatre companies, including Sydney Theatre Company (The Mysteries: Genesis, The DueI) Belvoir Street Theatre (Love Me Tender) Griffin Theatre Company (Don’t Say the Words) and Black Swan State Theatre Company (The Lady Aoi).

From 2002 to 2012 he was the artistic director of Perth-based theatre company ThinIce, where he created works such as Antigone for the Perth International Arts Festival, Red Shoes for the Artrage Festival and co-produced many of the above projects. Matthew directed the Strauss opera Elektra in 2012 for Opera Australia and West Australian Opera, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in 2013 for New Zealand Opera and Queensland Opera, and Make No Noise in 2011 for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

Matthew is currently directing I Am a Miracle at the Malthouse Theatre from 18 July – 9 August 2015. For more information, visit: www.malthousetheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Matthew Lutton – photo by Pia Johnson