You’ve been around for 11 years and are still going strong – what do you contribute to Finucane & Smith’s longevity?
Tenacity, bloody-mindedness, a profound and sometimes scary work ethic, and a great love of and joy in humanity. The Smith of Finucane & Smith says of me; “If someone tells Moira three times that something can’t be done, then it will definitely be done – twice over.”
I also have charm, integrity, a deep fascination and curiosity for culture, humanity and art, and am not risk averse. That adds up to a pretty hectic schedule!
Finucane & Smith has been home to a lot of incredible talent. How do you consistently draw such talented artists?
We only look for three qualities in our artists; a unique and extraordinary talent, a genuine and infectious love of the audience, and a capacity to work incredibly hard.
In return we will move heaven and earth to showcase that unique precious and sometimes fragile, indefinable gift they have to offer. We expect courage and generosity, and we return it. We are respectful and irreverent, we make contexts that audiences love to come and share, we are curious to embrace the exotic and the different. We don’t try to push anyone into the same mould, we expect courage and openness from our audience, and we get it back in spades.
No artist needs to dumb anything down in a Finucane & Smith show; we frame it, we support it, and we showcase beauty wherever we found it. And I think artists love us for that.
Your new (and final Glory Box) show, Glory Box La Revolución, features 11 new acts and 4 new artists. I’m really excited to see it – how does it stack up to the previous Glory Box shows? What’s new in it?
It’s not our final Glory Box EVER, but it is true she will be stamped “Export Only” for the next few years!
When Glory Box turned 10 last year, I had just been invited by China’s avant-garde theatre director to join him playing the lead role of Brecht’s Good Person of Szechuan. “Brecht? The National Theatre of China, Beijing, Shanghai?” – was I going to say no? NO! So we cancelled the Tenth Anniversary season of the show. But then… of course fate intervened and we squeezed in a two week season in between Beijing and Brazil.
What now we thought? Do we keep going, and if so where? And seriously, I kid you not, just as we had closed the Tenth Anniversary season, Jackie and I were contemplating the future of our most glorious box of tricks, and we received an email from Havana, asking us to join in their passionate conversation of art, solidarity, intercultural dialogue and theatre as a lived reflection of who we are.
Were we going to say no? No! So, Glory Box La Revoluciόn was born. The dawn of a new era.
Every season of Glory Box is a mix of treasures and adventure, wild new acts and all-time favourites, and this year is wilder than ever.
You’re also the first Australians ever to be invited to collaborate with Slovenia’s Live Art Institute – what kind of connection do you have with Slovenia?
Glory Box travelled to Slovenia about seven years ago as part of a European tour that covered Slovenia, London, Italy, and Croatia (and Tokyo on the way home), and we had a thrilling and very intense time.
The critic in Tokyo who said; “If I have to choose either to die or not see this show, I rather die!” (Ameblo) really nailed it. The schedule was so full on we blistered into towns all over the world with an intensity that was clearly infectious. We sold out Ljubljana’s cultural centre, sold three times the tickets available in Rijeka, nearly caused a riot in a London club with my Queen of Hearts act, and we were determined to return one day.
Well, that day has arrived, and this year we’re not only able to take a show – my parlour of the Gothic Feminine Gotharama, but we’re working with uber-avant-garde performance artists to make the closing show of the Festival, which will be a collaboration of epic proportions.
And adding to the international angle, you’ve also been invited to the Havana International Theatre Festival. You’re the first Australian company to do so – do you think there’s something to Finucane & Smith that transcends borders?
I am a cultural bower bird, and I think that’s why the world fascinates me so.
Everywhere we go we meet people – audiences and other artists – who inspire us in different ways. In Beijing I met a young man who said, “your work – it is freedom.”
Everyone, worldwide, has an idea of what freedom can look like. And what freedom should look like. Our work is about liberation, and passion, and truth. In that way, we definitely transcend borders.
In 2013 we became the very first Australian company to be invited to Latin America’s most prestigious arts festival the, Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires, and they loved us. The audience called me La Diosa (The Goddess) which was such an unexpected compliment, Argentina’s major national theatre critic compared us to Beckett, Ionesco, Jarry, and discussed our work in relations to Artaud’s philosophies. We met, we embraced, we danced, we drank, we ate, we talked and we fell in love. And by last year we were performing in front of 10,000 people in the Praca Franklin Roosevelt in Sao Paulo.
Glory Box will be “strutting out of Melbourne indefinitely”. What’s on the cards in the meantime?
I have just got back from Tennant Creek, collaborating with beautiful and extraordinary local artists, from fire twirlers to Indigenous stars singing breath-taking songs in their language of Mudburra. Wow.
Glory Box opens next! Then off to a Victoria wide regional tour which ends in Ballarat, and I’ll be in Ljubljana the next day, Norway the next week, and Cuba by October.
And we are thinking of plunging Melbourne into a wild surprise next year… watch this space!
Glory Box opens 20 August and runs until 13 September, 2015 at Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnson St, Collingwood. Tickets start from $25 for the Peanut Gallery to $98.88 for the Glory Box. You can book online at http://www.finucaneandsmith.com, or enquire at 0477 695 368.