ArtStarter Focus – Michele Lee

7 September 2012 Naomi Gall

Recent ArtStart recipient Michele Lee is a Melbourne- based playwright whose work explores facets of Asian- Australian identity. In May this year Lee’s participatory work, Talon Salon, was part of the 2012 Next Wave Festival and was a site-specific audio theatre work about Vietnamese-run nail salons in Australia.

Having an already quite well established practice, Lee intends to use her ArtStart year to build on connections and focus on her online presence through the creation of a website, and engage a video editor to document her work. The artist also plans to travel to America and build on some foundations there, commenting, ‘I’ll be going [to America] in 2013 to meet Asian American theatre-makers and writers. I want to get a handle on the work they’re making, how they construct identity in their work, how they connect to non-Asian companies, how they develop artists, how they attract audiences and funding. The goal is to learn, make contacts and steal a few good ideas!’
In five years, Lee wants to have a bigger body of professionally produced work and also be continuing to explore non-traditional ways of presenting theatre, mixing up the role of the writer. On the future of theatre and her role within it, she says, ‘It would be great to if, as part of my practice, I can have more of an influence on the development of the theatre sector being more diverse. More non-Anglo stories and faces on mainstream stages, and telling really interesting stories – the autobiographical, the global, the political, the unexpected, lots of stuff really.’

Lee was recently interviewed on Radio National about her work See How The Leaf People Run, a story of the Hmong people, an ethnic minority originally residing in South-East Asia and their bloody history of resistance to Communist forces in the Vietnam and related wars.

Image Credit: courtesy the artist.