On the Couch with Nicholas Kong

Nicholas-Kong-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Nicholas Kong?
My mother focuses on the fact that for one year, I was a very handsome and ethnically ambiguous Santa Claus. My dad thinks I am a penniless gypsy. My friends think I am an extroverted freak of nature that claims he knows everyone. The Myers-Briggs test would say I am an INFP… which is rare and makes me feel unique.

In truth, I am someone who loves to create. I am highly analytical of everything I do and am critical of people who do not push themselves to strive for more. I am pragmatic and realistic. Theatre and film inspire me, and to a degree, have educated me as well. I love the magic that these mediums create and the power they have to transform and transport us into different worlds, times and realities. I am lucky that I have had the chance to develop stories and characters in these worlds, but I am greedy and still want more… I also have a cake business – a side hustle for when I am a gypsy!

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I would kill to speak another language. There is something bougie and sexy about people who can just slip into a different tongue. When he was 16, my father moved to Australia from Kuching, Borneo. Now at 85, as he has grown older, he has expressed some regret about letting his native tongue and culture slip. I would love to speak Haka, to lessen that gap for my dad, and to feel more connected to my heritage and my history.

Who inspires you and why?
Great theatre. I love dissecting it, discussing the ways it was created, analysing the actors’ choices and being purely immersed. I hope to always be a part of the world of theatre, in any medium.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
When I’m not performing, I am extremely privileged to be a primary school teacher to a wonderful group of 11- & 12-year-olds. I am proud of the students I teach, they are intelligent and worldly, but most of all they are compassionate and kind young adults, who are brave and in tune with their emotions. While I don’t know if what I am doing will make a profound difference, I know that these kids will go out and try their hardest to create some equilibrium in the world.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Anywhere! Honestly after the great apocalypse, a holiday is a treasured and prized gift, and I am bubbling with anticipation of my next getaway. My favorite destinations are Japan, for all its history and the juxtaposition of old and new (as well as two Disneylands). And of course, New York! Where else in the world can you see all types of theatre every single day of the week and then get to talk about it over a burger at Shake Shack?

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I would start by packing the best picnic, consisting of: The Wall St Bagel, from Bissel B in Richmond… the taste takes me straight back to New York. Sweets and pastries from Candied in Spotswood. Honestly, I would kill for their Candied Pie. And some wonderful Gippsland cheese, with Savoys and kabana of course! I would pack this all up and take them down to the Botanic Gardens, a great place to people-watch and take in some of the quiet beauty of Melbourne.

What are you currently reading?
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. I ripped through it in a matter of days. It is a powerful dystopian story that makes us question our impact on each other and what makes life worth living and remembering.

What are you currently listening to?
I am not someone who listens to music that often, I am very much a podcast boy in the car. However, one album that I come back to continuously is Company, with music and lyrics by the great Stephen Sondheim. I first saw the show at Melbourne Theatre Company when I was 12 and have been obsessed ever since. Being Alive was my somewhat inappropriate staple at many eisteddfods growing up. If anyone is listening, there is a dream role or two in there!

Happiness is?
My dogs’ unbridled joy on the weekend when I let them into the bed!

What does the future hold for you?
In my immediate future, I will be performing in the beautiful production of A Christmas Carol. It is everything I love about theatre: imaginative and original direction that leaves me feeling inspired; beautiful award-winning sets and costumes, and heartfelt and warm performances from the most wonderful ensemble of actors. It is such a moving and joyous piece of theatre that I implore you to come and see.

Further down the line, I hope to still be involved in creating wonderful theatre and film, I don’t think I have achieved everything I want to yet, and I’m open to all opportunities that come my way. Also, maybe a baby… I’ll just have to let my partner know about that one!

Nicholas stars as Fezziwig in the Old Vic production of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic, A Christmas Carol, which premieres at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre from 12 November 2022. For more information, visit: www.christmascarolaustralia.com.au for details.

Image: Nicholas Kong (supplied)