Lewis Jones

What do you do in your day-to-day life?
I wear many hats, but this year, I have mostly been producing and directing. At the start of the year, I directed a production of 'Avenue Q' up in Toowoomba, but my other projects this year have been wearing my producer hat – ‘Women Of Woodstock’ as part of Queensland Music Festival; ‘Becoming Bill’ a new, locally-created musical and coming up in October the fabulous 'Women In Voice'.
Why do you do it?
Good question. I love connecting artists with audiences and while I don’t mind stepping on to the stage, I get a huge thrill to see both performers and their audience having a good time. Maybe even a great time.
What do you love about the city you live in right now?
I am living in St Lucia at the moment and it really is a very lovely place and I enjoy walking around the uni campus. As someone who has spent their life working in the performing arts, there is always so much on. Quite a shift from when I first started out in the '80s and, having lived in Sydney for a few years, it is really pretty easy to get around.
What's the best thing about being a part of the LGBT+ community?
What I love seeing is how things have moved ahead since what were some pretty tortured closeted days for me as a young gay man. Luckily now I can’t even remember where the closet is! I love that young people can be out and proud in their everyday life and sexual orientation has about as much relevance as your star sign – with all due respect to any believers in astrology who might be reading.
In your opinion, what is the most misunderstood thing about the community?
I guess that we do not fit what are the outdated stereotypes that parts of the media like to trot out. When watching coverage of the same-sex marriage plebiscite announcement, there were live crosses to drag queens in Oxford Street clubs to get ‘live reaction’. I would love to have heard from Trevor and Peter or Cath and Ange who have been together for 20 years just living their lives. . . But cynically that does not make good television.
Do you have an LGBT+ icon/spokesperson that you look up to and if so, what do you love about them?
Michael Kirby, David Marr, Magda Szubanski – to name three. I love that they are so intelligent, articulate and sharp as – and are able to calmly refute and defuse the arguments of those who seek to oppress us. Lyle Shelton, I am looking at you, although I would rather not.
How do you define happiness?
How much time have you got? I might have read too many self-help books but I think a lot of the time we can choose to be happy. I think unhappiness comes from trying to live up to expectations that we set upon ourselves. As a producer, happiness is a full house. As a director, a standing ovation. Or even better overhearing someone who saw a show you directed and saying they loved it! That feels pretty good.
Are you happy with your work/life balance?
I think that a lot of folk in the performing arts find that their passion for the arts is such that it is hard to define a divide between the work and ‘life’. Without sounding like too much a wanker [can I say ‘wanker’?], the work becomes your life. I mean, I don’t know many arts folk who have an unrelated hobby.
If you could travel back in time for a day, where would you go?
To Burleigh Heads, some time back in the '60s, holidaying with my family and my cousins and neighbours, truly halcyon days.
What is the best lesson you've ever learned?
Back when I was working as an actor, I was aiming to be extraordinary in a particular role. The director quietly drew me aside and just said ‘I cast YOU. Just be yourself’. I often use that when I am working with actors and try to remember it whenever things get tough.
What is your spirit animal?
I’ve never had one. An ageing Labrador? Ha!

Lewis Jones - Image © Barbara Lowing