As a teen, one of Lizz Lethlean’s favourite ways to pass the time was to climb up the large apricot tree in her backyard and settle against a large bough, guitar in hand, to play and sing for hours.
‘Music has been a constant friend,’ Lizz says.
With the Victoria College of the Arts yet to be established, Lizz’s love of performing saw her train as a teacher at Rusden State College, which was known to be an experimental training college.
After a year on the front line of the classroom, she was seconded into Theatre in Education, as an actor/teacher touring shows throughout the state. ‘If music was required, I would come up with some of the songs. It was a busy, collaborative time, creating issues-based shows and touring them to schools, exploring topics through theatre.
‘It was great getting these skills, but that annoying bit of me that wanted to go and work in the real theatre was always there, so I auditioned for Handspan Theatre and got the role.’
The role saw her travel to Paris, London and New York as a puppeteer in Handspan’s Secrets over the course of an initial six-month tour that then turned into a 15-year stint with the company.
Since that time, Lizz’s creative talents, including construction and design, have seen her create large-scale imagery and manage festivals and events, including being Festival Hub manager for the Victorian Seniors Festival for six years.
Through it all, the pleasure she derives from music has endured. ‘It’s something that I return to, to check in with myself. It’s a marvellous feeling to write a song. My experience is that it comes upon you and you've got to capture it while it's there.’
Watch Lizz Lethlean's Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance.