Interview with APS Tutor and Theatre Director by Julia Landberg for APS

APS is exited to present Robert Johnson; tutor and theatre director for the Full Time Program as well as terms classes.

Rob will also be directing the ensemble in the brand new APS Production Course “The Company”.

To read more and register to audition for this exciting new course click here



Who is Robert Johnson? 

I’m a theatre and opera director and producer who specialises in revitalising rarely performed classics, new writing and in opera. I have a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Monash University and a Masters of Directing from the Victorian College of the Arts. I run company Burning House with my partner Jessica Doutch, and have worked with many of Australia’s leading companies and artists over the years. My favourite film is ‘Lost in Translation’ and my favourite ‘book’ is the ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past’ trilogy by Cixin Lui.


What are you working on right now?

‘Ajax’. I rewrote a 2500 year old play about a man who has a dissociative experience at the end of the Trojan War and decides to kill himself rather than put his family at risk. I love it – the Greeks have so much power, and they understood theatre really clearly as a ritual. Everything in the play is geared towards a shared expression of grief as a community – it’s incredibly powerful stuff.


Who would you invite over for dinner and why?

That would be an extensive guest list. Top picks would be Eric Weinstein – a physicist/economist I like to listen to, Peter Theil – a venture capitalist I find very interesting, Joe Quirk – an entrepreneur promoting floating communities in the ocean, Kim Stanley Robinson – one of my favourite eco-sci-fi writers, and finally Simon Russell Beale – I’d love to pick his brain about Shakespeare.


What is a quote or philosophy you live by?

Two from Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘He is only rich who owns the day’, and ‘Greatness is the perception of virtue.’

I’ve found Stoicism to be a useful orientation point for life, and have found comfort in Seneca’s famous quote: ‘This too shall pass’.
Shakespeare’s ‘Common chances common men can bear / Extremity is the trier of spirits’ is a nice one too.


What is your favourite part of your field of expertise?

Two parts – I love teaching and working with students. There is a deep and rich satisfaction in helping those starting out develop their skills. More privately, I find consistent joy and pleasure in my relationship with Shakespeare – getting to continually examine his work with professional actors over the years has been a real pleasure.


What would you say to a younger version of yourself?

Discipline yourself and learn to let go of what you can’t control.


What would you say to an older version of yourself?

How soon until public space travel becomes available?


3 hot actor tips?

Play, play, play. Every scene’s a game – learn how to play it.

Find the bomb in the scene – having an imposed imaginary time limit can be so helpful.

Accept stillness. It’s a great tool for strength.


Julia Landberg

Acting Performance Studio

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