Is there a place for you in this industry as a female director?
IMAGE: Supplied by Justice Jones
What words best describe you:
I would describe myself as an aesthete; I’m visually driven and appreciate things that are curated and styled in all elements of art and life. I would describe my personality as ambitious, caring and bubbly.
What is your dream role and on what production or performance?
I’d love to direct with Paris Opera at Palais Garnier. I was there a couple of weeks ago and it is truly the most beautiful opera house. I’d love to direct a production of Carmen, it’s the ultimate opera in terms of badass female leads and richness in culture – both dramatically and musically.
How did you land your first job in opera and what inspired you to work in this industry?
I have a performance background and have studied classical music from a young age. When I finished my bachelors degree at the Conservatorium of Music, I travelled to Italy and studied and performed for a few months. Whilst I was there, I had an amazing opportunity to assist one of the directors on the opera Le Nozze di Figaro, and my passion for the directing side of opera started there. I knew I needed further training and a better understanding of the craft, so I applied to study at NIDA and was accepted into the Master of Fine Arts Directing program.
I’ve also been working with Opera Australia since I was 12 years old. I started as a performer in the children’s chorus and then did Surtitles for the company throughout my studies. This was a great way for me to learn the operas, get familiar with both the music and languages and stay up to date with up-and-coming directors and singers around the world.
What are your key takeaways from the Master of Fine Arts course?
The Masters course at NIDA provides you with extraordinary networks and industry exposure. I was able to meet so many industry professionals who have helped me secure work since graduating. The course also teaches you how to have a strong work ethic, the hours are so demanding, but I feel like it’s the perfect reflection and the best preparation for the industry.
What did you discover that you weren’t expecting in the opera world—anything that inspired you? Obstacles that have you faced?
Opera is incredible. For me, it is the most exciting medium of theatre and has really stood the test of time. I love the scale of opera and the grandeur of production. However, as much as I love it, I have noticed that the opera world is quite far behind in terms of diversity at all levels, but particularly in leadership. There are very few females in artistic leadership positions, particularly in Australia, and a lack of cultural diversity in many companies. As a young, female, POC director, I would love to work with a team of culturally diverse creatives and leaders.
What would you like to see in the future of opera, or more generically, and the performing arts?
I think the performing arts world is in a real period of change. There is quite a lot of movement and reshuffling in terms of leadership within many Australian arts organisations and during this time, I would love to see major changes from the top. Companies have started to have more cultural awareness around casting, which is great to see, but unless they are also making space for cultural diversity in leadership positions, no real, impactful and sustainable change is going to take place. I am a true believer that when you begin to change the theatre world’s history and start to finally invite POC creatives into positions of decision making, the business elements of companies is benefited as we start to see more community outreach, the artistic scheduling will start to be stronger as we start to represent new people and stories and the artists and creatives within companies from diverse backgrounds will also feel supported in their roles. Change from the top, is genuine, sustainable change.
Justice is an emerging opera director and is currently working on Attila with Opera Australia.
The Master of Fine Arts Directing is one of the nation’s only courses focussing on the directing craft for both stage and screen within a network of trained actors.
NIDA are accepting applications for 2023.