Deborah Leiser-Moore is in the house!

December 4, 2018
Deborah is a performance maker, performer, lecturer and director whose bold, highly visual and physical works use multiple theatrical languages to investigate culture and contemporary issues. We chatted with her about her residency at the Jewish Museum.

M: Kaddish for the Children is your latest work you’ll be developing during your residency. Can you tell us a bit about the title and how it relates to the work?
The starting point for the work was Euripides Medea – but looking at the story from Medea’s point of view. A feminist perspective. I am interested in her losses – home, family, children. There are many mothers, who, for various reasons, have experienced these losses. In developing and working with the vocal director, Susan Bamford Caleo, I brought in The Kaddish as something to work with. We used it for some exercises and it hit me that, in fact, the whole work is about Medea saying Kaddish for her losses – specifically for her children. She has never been allowed to do this.

There’s rumours of a water theme, and even a rowing machine. What’s the significance of water in the play?
There was going to be a river running through the space, but as the work has developed this has been replaced by another major element – dirt. Although I don’t want to say too much. But water still is a theme and is present in the work. It’s to do with journey, exile and cooking! And yes – there is a water rower.

What can audiences expect to see during your residency, for example if they pop in when you are mid-rehearsal/ devising?
I’ll be in the space working in different ways. So it will depend on when they come in. Sometimes I might be there with a colleague – for example, Susan Bamford Caleo. In that case they might hear some very strange noises. Other times it might be boring as I am just thinking about it, imagining, frustrated etc. Or they might even find me talking to myself!

What’s it like to be at the Jewish Museum, and how do you expect the Museum to impact your residency, and conversely how do you expect to impact the Museum?
I love it at the Museum – although I haven’t spent much time there yet. Everyone there is so positive and supportive. I think the residency is a perfect match for this work as I grapple with the impact of the themes of mourning and, as a woman, saying Kaddish. And then weaving this in to the themes of Medea. I think my residency will open the Museum up to different art forms – specifically Performance/Installation. I have a lot of videos in the exhibition as this is a perfect way to show the work. And as the performance season is presented by Footscray Community Arts Centre (as a result of a long residency with them), there is now a relationship being developed between the two organisations around this work. There will be a panel at the end of January including a First Nations artist, myself and the producer/programmer of FCAC. I am hoping this will develop in to a long term relationship between myself and the Museum.


Don’t hesitate to come see Deborah in action at the Museum. Click here for more details.