Queensland Theatre have announced that well-known cultural leader and director Lee Lewis, current Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer of Griffin Theatre Company will succeed Sam Strong as the company’s Artistic Director, beginning in January 2020.
Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the next Artistic Director will share the richness of vision that Sam Strong brought to the position to help the company grow.
“Lee Lewis is known for leading creative teams, for her collaborative work, for celebrating new work and re-visioning stories for the stage,” Minister Enoch said. “She has curated seven successful seasons at Griffin and it is fantastic that she will now call Queensland home. I would also like to thank Sam Strong for his outstanding achievements and significant contribution to arts in Queensland, as the Artistic Director of our flagship theatre company. We wish Sam all the best and look forward to his return next year in a directorial capacity.”
Sam Strong said he was delighted that Lee Lewis would be the next Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre.
“Lee Lewis and I have shared an office, we’ve co-directed shows, and we have sat together with playwrights into the early hours of the morning talking about their work, and now we will have passed the baton of custodianship of two great companies in Griffin and Queensland Theatre,” he said. “Lee is an artist and a leader of the highest integrity and intelligence. I’m incredibly proud of how Queensland Theatre has transformed in the last few years, and I can’t wait to see where Lee, in collaboration with the Executive Director Amanda Jolly, take it in the future.”
Growing up in country New South Wales, Lee started as an actor in regional theatre. After completing a BA (Hons) at the University of Sydney, she moved to New York to study under Andrei Serban and Anne Bogart at Columbia University completing an MFA (Acting). A successful New York career as an actor saw her working on and off Broadway with the great directors Julie Taymor, Robert Woodruff, Andre Gregory, Andrei Serban, and Tina Landau. Returning to Australia in 2001, she was the first person to receive a Masters of Fine Arts from NIDA in Directing and her thesis was published by Currency Press as a Platform Paper under the title Cross-Racial Casting: Changing the Face of Australian Theatre. Many of Lewis’ productions have been nominated for awards but most notably Angus Cerini’s The Bleeding Tree won three Helpmann Awards including Best Play, Best Actress in a Leading Role, and Best Director. Lewis has also had many directorial successes with companies including Griffin, Bell Shakespeare, Belvoir, Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Australian Theatre for Young People, Darwin Festival, NIDA, and WAAPA.
Lee Lewis said leading Queensland Theatre artistically was exciting because of the enormous potential for growth rather than change.
“The company needs to continue to commit to the directions and ideals laid down in the last five years so that the home audience can start to deeply own and celebrate the achievements of its theatre company. Because that is what we all want in the end isn’t it? Great nights in the theatre watching great actors telling great stories in surprising ways that make you want to rush home and insist that your daughter, your son, your best friend, your aunt who is a nurse and doesn’t have a lot of time off, must buy a ticket and see it. Building audience means making sure every show counts,” she said.