On the Couch with Tes Lyssiotis

Tes Lyssiotis AAR On the CouchWho is Tes Lyssiotis?
A Greek/Australian Theatre Practitioner and teacher who has written over 35 plays including her seminal Australian play, Hotel Bonegilla.  Her work often examines the lives of the marginalised and offers a genuine diverse Australian voice.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Probably travel a lot more especially around Australia.  Be bolder in my creative choices, leave my comfort zone, and  discover a better work/life balance.

Who inspires you and why?
My parents who worked hard  as migrants in the 50s but still managed to instill a love of language, music and dance in me; those who are and have been shamefully incarcerated in our detention centres because of the courage they have shown; the wonderful, wonderful choreographer/dancer Pina Bausch (and the Tanztheatre). Her surreal voyages into the pain of human existence which she creates by weaving, movement, imagery and speech makes for mesmerising theatre.

The Greek theatre director Dimitris Papaiannou, his visionary work borders between dream and reality. Also the films of Theodore Angelopoulos who uses dream, stasis, memory and fantasy to make strong social and political statements. The writings of John Berger, in particular, his book The Seventh Man – a powerful portrayal of the dehumanising experience of migration.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
The world? Create more green spaces, and be more diligent about how we(the family) take care of our environment. Social justice; as a writer asking what is the truth and what is false, you may never find it but the search for it should be the writer’s task. Practice generosity ,compassion, and connectedness in daily life.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
There are several places: the Grampians in the Wimmera district and Greece, Athens and in particular the island of Kythera (my parents birthplace). These places are part of my psyche.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to and why?
South Melbourne market for the oysters and croissants; Oakleigh market for the souvlaki; Victoria Market for the fantastic range of fresh produce and our State Library which was  founded in 1854. The Library houses a vast collection of books which  includes  the diaries of James Cook and Ned Kelly. And, last but not least, La Mama Theatre. An important place in our cultural landscape. La Mama Theatre is a place of risk taking, and innovation and always provides  a unique audience experience.

What are you currently reading?
Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Last Draft by John Millet. The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places by William Atkins. Milkman by Anna Burns. The Polish journalist: Ryszard Kapuscinski’s The Soccer War and Shah of Shahs.

What are you currently listening to?
The soundtrack from The Piano – Jane Campion’s film. Cirque de Soleil’s Quidam. Eleni Karaindrou’s Elegy of the Uprooting. Ritsos / Theodorakis – Epitaphios. Leonard Cohen – You want it Darker.

Happiness is?
Home cooked meals shared with family and close friends; watching my children grow into independent, beautiful people; collaborating and creating theatre with fellow practitioners, holidays with the family in Greece.

What does the future hold for you?
Who Knows? Hopefully more meals with my family, and shared artistic experiences with my wonderful husband. In terms of my theatre practice, I’m dreaming about new projects but those ideas I can’t share at the present time. I like to spend a lot of time in this phase of the work process.

Tes examines life from the inside an Australian detention centre in The Audition – a new multi-authored work presented by Outer Urban Projects at the La Mama Theatre Courthouse from 13 November 2019. For more information, visit: www.lamama.com.au for details.

Image: Tes Lyssiotis (supplied)