On the Couch with Moira Finucane

Moira Finucane AAR On the Couch - photo by Jodie HutchinsonWho is Moira Finucane?
Moira Finucane is a director, performance artist, writer, feminist, scientist, liberationist, great lover of humans and provocateur and the ultimate unrealist. A little while ago The Age declared me a ‘national treasure’ and my mum still calls me ‘treasure’ – so I must be doing something right!

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would have the ability to clone myself, in order that I might do more of what I’m doing. Everywhere I go in the world, they tell me I need a clone, so I am really waiting for the research money to kick in; I think it’s in the national interest. I would reach out to more people; more audiences; more artists; My clones and I would work even harder to lift extraordinary voices; to celebrate uniqueness; to show audiences a veritable lava of love and talent, and to scale the vertical walls of bigotry, narrow-mindedness and fear, standing on the shoulder of giants. Also my clone (or I!) may go on holiday.

Who inspires you and why?
Many people inspire me; I am in inspired by the daily courage and resilience shown by Indigenous Australians; I am inspired by the daily courage and resilience shown by women and girls throughout the world; I am inspired by Beyoncé, and Desmond Tutu and Rosie Batty & Lucille Ball. I never go anywhere ever without my copy of Desmond Tutu’s No Future Without Forgiveness. The human capacity for joy inspires me and gives me hope.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I hope what I am doing now makes a difference in the world. I believe art can change culture and change lives. My variety and cabaret work have been seen now by hundreds and thousands of folk around the world. When we were the first Australian company to be invited to the Havana International Theatre Festival a couple of years ago, the Cuba Tribune wrote “for those that have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to feel, Finucane & Smith turn all that were fears and taboos into Total Love, Total Art and Total Freedom”. It was a nice to read, and something to live up to, eh? Every day, people contact me from near and far, thanking myself and my company of artists for the work we do; and for our celebration of the unique and exquisite in people. So generosity, kindness, courage and art. That will give me enough to do for 2019.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
A holiday by the beach with lots of long walks and echidna spotting to remind me of what an astounding and precious country I live in. And there’s another one. A fantasy holiday. That involves a peanut pool, and a swim up bar, with some kind of thatched roof, and I swim up and the radio is on, and music floats across the balmy water “do you like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain…” ( and I do).

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I take them to the Chinese Museum in Melbourne to visit Dai Loong and his young brother, the Millennium Dragon. The Millennium Dragon is the longest processional dragon in the world, and Dai Loong was the first processional dragon made in China since 1949. They are both such special dragons and they were created in China and brought back here to Melbourne by the Chinese community – I have a scale of Dai Loong, which I take with me to every show I’ve ever done, anywhere in the world. The dragon comes out twice a year – for Chinese New Year, and for Moomba. He brings such joy to people, such luck and the community are very proud of him.

What are you currently reading?
I always have a few books on the hop. I am currently reading Let’s Speak Mudburra – which was given to me by Ray Dixon, a proud Mudburra leader, and a good friend from Marlinja Country in NT; and I like to mix that up with the odd regency romance, some Chinese history (I am reading about Empress Dowager Cixi right now) and of course a spot of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe.

What are you currently listening to?
Jazz from 1930s Shanghai. The Creative Producer of Shanghai MiMi, Douglas Hunter, heard about this mythical cache found in a Mumbai warehouse, he got his hands on it, and it inspired the brand new show I’m creating for the Sydney Festival. I literally can’t get it out of my head, and when you come to Shanghai MiMi, and maestro MD John McAll plunges you into that heady world of shidaiqu Shanghai Jazz, and you see all the acrobats, and the singers, and the swinging from the rafters, well, you’ll be humming along for months!

Happiness is? 
Pretty basic. Yet despite that, it’s not universal. You know what I think, I think happiness is the lived experience of a generous equality. That’s when people are most joyous, that’s where I want to go, why not hop of board?.

What does the future hold for you?
Right now, we’re in the thick of creating Shanghai MiMi, with acrobats, costumes, brocades, dancers, trumpets players, singers and songs flying in from all over the world. When they land it’s going to be a red hot ,stunning moving joyous party, with artists from 7 countries, and 15 different languages backgrounds bursting the absolute boiler of energy, joy, skill the old and the wildly contemporary, on the brink of a brand new year.

Then I literally fly off to Antarctica to witness jade icebergs, wild seas and penguins, on an old Russian science vessel with my Environmental Science mentor (since I was 19!) which will inspire me for the rest of my life. Then my solo Gesamtkunstwerk, The Rapture Suite Art vs Extinction is going to represent Australia in theatre and design at the Prague Quadrennial.

I will be making art with Indigenous genius’ in remote Australia; I’m travelling to Germany, Cornwall and Paris to write and perform; I’m performing in Melbourne; and I am directing a new play by Jackie Smith in Beijing. It will be a big year! And after that, maybe that peanut pool will appear.

Moira is directing the world premiere season of Shanghai MiMi at the Riverside Theatres, Parramatta from 10 January as part of the 2019 Sydney Festival. For more information, visit: www.sydneyfestival.org.au for details.

Image: Moira Finucane – photo by Jodie Hutchinson