Five Questions with Lex Marinos

Hailing from the Riverina, Lex Marinos OAM career spans across Australian theatre, film, radio and television for over forty years. Perhaps most fondly remembered as Bruno, the son-in-law from 80’s comedy series Kingswood County, Lex is returning to HotHouse in Suzie Miller’s Sunset Strip.

You were involved in the early days of HotHouse. Can you tell us a bit about that ?

I was part of the Artistic Directorate which set up HotHouse in 1997 and oversaw the artistic programming of the company for the first 3 years.  The Artistic Directorate was drawn from all across the nation and had a great range of people, including the then MTC Artistic Director Rodger Hodgman, Designer Eamon D’Arcy and STC resident director Marion Potts. I remember it as being a very stimulating and rewarding process.

How important do you think the telling of uniquely Australian stories is to regional audiences?

It’s absolutely essential that all Australians have opportunities to participate in cultural pursuits and have access to Australian stories which reflect their own lives and allow them to have a voice in national discussions. Culture is not something that is the exclusive domain of privileged metropolitan areas. We all have the right to contribute to our own stories which help define our identity, and engage in the discourse about ideas and issues which will determine what kind of society we wish to become.

You play a man who has dementia. This is a real and frightening challenge a number of people. How did you prepare for the role?

Sadly, as our population ages, it is an issue which will inevitably affect most families. In my case, my mother and her three sisters all suffered from varying degrees of dementia from mild to serious (Alzheimers). The youngest one (aged 91) is in the middle of this horrible process and it is heartbreaking to see this once vital energetic woman deteriorate before my eyes. Needless to say, I’ve spent many, many hours in nursing homes and have had the opportunity to observe the behaviour of people dealing with this condition.

You were one of the first actors in Australia from a non-anglo background to reach mainstream popularity. How well do you think we are telling the stories of our diverse nation?

I think we have made some progress, but not enough. It is still difficult for non-Anglo actors to gain employment in general roles rather than just ethno-specific ones. The core issue remains the lack of diversity and representation at the decision-making level. A look at the Major Performing Arts organisations tells a grim story. Of the 29 companies, only one is Indigenously driven, none cater for disability or youth, none are located regionally, only three are fronted by women, and less than 10% have directors from culturally diverse backgrounds. This means our major companies are predominantly presenting work by middle-aged, white Anglo men! This is not just a problem in the arts, but in society in general.

Looking back, what advice would you give your 20 year old self about working in Theatre and Television?

Take the work seriously, but get over yourself. Leave your ego outside the rehearsal room. Ask questions, expand your knowledge of the world. Learn a musical instrument, learn more languages, acquire more skills – singing, dancing, juggling, etc. Learn to be resilient. Be respectful, generous and have fun.

Sunset Strip by Suzie Miler plays from 5 November at the Hume Bank Butter Factory Theatre for six performances.

Bookings can be made here