Chris Kohn started from the bottom. Now he’s here.
Chris Kohn is a creative industries student’s dream mentor.
His background stems back years in every aspect of theatre and music, both nationally and overseas.
Now, he’s the newest artistic director at the La Boite Theatre Company in Kelvin Grove. He’s tasked with stepping into the massive shoes of David Berthold and putting his own spin on the productions, injecting them with a younger, fresher vibe.
His background in working with young people from culturally diverse backgrounds in Australia and overseas is sure to influence the flavour of the work coming out of this prestigious playhouse.
Along with being an advocate for cultural diversity within the theatre scene, Chris is greatly supportive of — and passionate about — Australian theatre.
“Australia is a really great place to make work,” he says. “There’s such a great community of artists and I’ve never struggled to find people that I really desperately want to work with. We’re not too bound by tradition, there’s no expectation to live up to… or preconceived ideas of what theatre should be. There’s a freshness about the work, and people [overseas] value the work that’s coming out of Australia. There’s a sense that anything can happen.”
Brisbane’s theatre scene is earning just as much of a name for itself as traditionally creative cities like Melbourne. At La Boite, talented young artists are given the time and opportunity to showcase their talents and professionalism through a legitimate platform – and are being seen by all the right people.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in identifying emerging professional artists, people who are taking that step onto the professional arena. What I really enjoy about that is trusting people that you know have the potential. It’s really exciting to bring a new voice to audiences, then track their progress and see how they fly. That’s really satisfying.”
It’s the voices of these emerging artists that Chris believes will keep this vibrant industry alive.
“For theatre to survive and remain relevant it does need to reinvent itself and it needs to continually evolve. There’s something about the particular voice of young people that will inherently keep changing theatre.”
For him, this includes tapping into ‘the new Australian’, people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who can bring stories to the stage through their own personal experiences that otherwise would be impossible to tell genuinely from any one’s perspective but their own.
“I think the best theatre and the highest quality theatre… is where the work reflects the society outside. Something I’m really keen to explore at La Boite is the possibility for theatre to be more embracing of culture and more relevant for all Australians, and provide a different perspective than the mainstream.”
Federal budget cuts to the arts aren’t good news for the theatre industry, but Chris has faith in his peers to make the most of their struggle.
“I think that the theatre community is full of great minds and great energy, and people find ways to deal with whatever situation they’re in.”
Under Chris’ direction you can be sure to expect both new and classic work to be presented in exciting and relevant ways. For more info, head to laboite.com.au.