On the Couch with Michael Beh

Michael Beh AAR On the CouchWho is Michael Beh?
A man, early 50s, a theatre director in love with making theatre that unlocks our humanity, telling our stories through theatricality, an acting teacher, a scholar, a father, a friend.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I can’t think of anything except travel extensively; old cities, old stories, wondrous forests, vast mountain ranges, spectacular seas.

Who inspires you and why?
Caryl Churchill – who writes incredible plays about the future of humanity. Neil Armfield who directs theatre with grace and brilliance. Both of my grandmothers who lived life tenaciously, with love and care, who told me so many stories when I was a boy, made me fall in love with storytelling and without realising it, theatre and drama.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Stop greed. Encourage people to be kinder. Encourage people to believe in themselves, to live in their own truth, to not live in fear of anything.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Avignon? York? London? Rome? So many places, but in the end: Venice. The mythology of the place overwhelms and inspires me. It is a place of memory and story, of creativity and imagination. To have built a city on water that is so utterly beautiful is a wonder. It beguiles me.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The river that majestically meanders through our lives in Brisbane. Cafes that serve great food and even better coffee. A lazy New Farm morning. Avenues of jacarandas in bloom in October. Immense sand dunes on islands within reaching distance. Nearby mountains and valleys that tell their own story with rambunctious old houses, towering eucalypts and a vast, blue, never ending sky.

What are you currently reading?
Brian Johnston’s inspiring books on Ibsen (an amazing man who was my teacher at Carnegie Melon University and a leader in the American Ibsen Theatre). I’m rereading Declan Donnellan’s wonderful The Actor and The Target. TS Eliot’s magnificent poem The Wasteland (I’m always reading it. I have loved it since my undergraduate days.) Far Away, more profound writing by Caryl Churchill and the play that I love with a deep abiding passion, Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s great gift to us all.

What are you currently listening to?
The evocative, transcending sound design for The Curator’s production of Ghosts by our amazing composer Brian Cavanagh; Kate Bush, Elton John, Australian rock bands from the 80s, Gregorian chant and other medieval plain song.

Happiness is?
The memory of my beautiful younger sister who left us all against her will 12 years ago, moments from our childhood on the Atherton Tablelands in rural, far north Queensland, rain drops left on an old fashioned rose, fresh bread and butter and real honey from home hives.

What does the future hold for you?
Directing more plays with incredible actors, travel, more deep thinking on the art of acting, communicating with audiences, telling our stories, dreaming our dreams, falling in love. And a beautiful little kitten who will come to live with me in a week or so. I think that I will call her Dame Judi Dench after my most favourite actor, who transcends it all and always make me smile and cry at the same time.

Michael has adapted and directed Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, Ghosts – currently playing at The Curators Vintage Pop Up Theatre, Red Hill (Brisbane) until Sunday 4 August 2019. For more information, visit: www.curators.com.au for details.

Image: Michael Beh (supplied)