Deborah Leiser-Moore

Artistic Director

Deborah Leiser-Moore (includes trailers and images of works)

Deborah is a performance maker and director whose bold, highly visual and physical works use multiple theatrical languages to investigate culture, memory and contemporary issues. Her work has been critically acclaimed and nominated for awards.

Her most recent major work, ‘KaBooM: Stories From Distant Frontlines’, is a promenade performance/video installation about cultural memory and war – from the women’s point of view - for which she interviewed ex-soldiers from global conflicts. In 2014 she performed the piece at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne to sold-out audiences and 4 star reviews. Time Out Melbourne described the work as: deeply attuned to the ripple effects of warfare that still disturb and haunt the Australian psyche. It’s experimental but accessible, packed with ideas but emotionally powerful. Leiser-Moore should be proud of her achievement, navigating the space with aplomb, using multi-media to enhance rather than distract from the theatricality. The piece was remounted in 2015 for the Alice Desert Festival in Alice Springs, where she collaborated with local artists, focusing on the ‘war’ story of Indigenous activist/performer Sylvia Neal. The piece was performed in an aircraft hangar utilizing the planes.

​In 2015, Deborah directed (and also performed in) The Dead Twin by Chi Vu, which she staged as a visceral promenade performance piece at Footscray Arts Centre. The piece uses the horror genre to explore the trauma and memory of war, and was presented as a collaboration between Footscray Arts Centre and Theatre Works as part of the FLIGHT Festival (VCA) of new works. Theatre People described the work as: visually stunning, using space, bold lighting and restrained costume as a new language to speak of grief and horror. Leiser-Moore has artfully combined these elements into a tightly wound thread, which draws you into this unsettling world: the Dead Twin is a very visceral experience. 

In 2014 Deborah was invited to New York to perform in iconic director - and father of avant-garde theatre - Richard Schechner’s new promenade performance work, Imagining O presented at the Peak Performance Festival. The work wove Shakespeare with Story of O, (Pauline Réage’s 1954 novel of female empowerment and willing sexual slavery), to explore the power dynamics of women in both sex and theater. For the piece Deborah created a 20-minute solo in a shower room in which she used her own (naked) body as archive - as the witness and carrier of history,

Deborah’s other major work is Cordelia, Mein Kind, which uses personal history and silence as starting points to divulge a psychological inheritance and an emotional core linked to her father’s trauma – his history passed on to her - a history of exile and loss. The works was performed at La Mama Theatre (Melbourne) in 2014 after touring nationally and internationally, including to the Festiwal Szekspiroski in Gdansk, Poland.
In 2013 Deborah spent time as an artist in residence in Kinitiras Studio, Athens Greece where she worked with local performer Afrodite Vervenioti. Together they made a short work investigating the theme of war in the context of Greece, which they presented at the Kinitiras Studio. She travelled to Thessaloniki to give a talk, showing video footage, about her body of work. Whilst there, she taught a performance making workshop at Aristotle University.
Other devised solo and collaborative works Deborah has made include: a room with no air (with Regina Heilmann), HUNGRY, The Cool Room, HazChem! and, with Entr’acte Theatre, The Memory Room, Aqua Azzura and Possessed/Dispossessed. 

Deborah’s other national and international touring highlights include: Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide International Festivals, Marsh Theatre (San Francisco), Theater J (Washington DC), Toga Festival (Japan), Magdalena Aotearoa Festival (New Zealand), Sydney’s Carnivale Festival, Performance Space and Belvoir St. Theatre, Searchlight Festival, Melbourne’s La Mama, fortyfivedownstairs and Malthouse Theatres, The International Women’s Playwrights Festival in Athens, Greece and an Australia Council residency in Israel. She has also discussed her body of work at Romeet Gallery, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where there was a sympathetic understanding, with local practitioners, of thematic explorations. In October/November 2016 Deborah was artist in residency for Domino Project (Zagreb, Croatia) and part of their festival, Sounded Bodies (supported by the Australian Embassy in Zagreb).
Deborah has studied in Japan with Tadashi Suzuki, trained in the work of Ettiene Decroux, Rasaboxes with Richard Schechner and has created a successful pedagogy for performance and teaching. Deborah was a regular sessional lecturer for many years at La Trobe University, University of Western Sydney and University of Wollongong, where her roles included undergraduate teaching, supervision, course design and direction of productions. She has also been invited to lead workshops at Monash University, Victoria University, NIDA, Beit Zvi in Tel Aviv, Aristotle University, Greece and in New Zealand. 

She ha
s presented her work at conferences and has been the recipient of a number of grants. In June 2004, a compilation video of her work (entitled Memory, Place, Reconciliation and the Body) was presented at the University of Bamberg, Germany, as part of the CDE conference. In 2004 Deborah was invited to be part of Odin theatre’s 40th Anniversary symposium and festival in Aarhus, Denmark; 2007 she was invited to present her work, as a guest of the Australian Embassy, at the International Congress of Jewish Theatre in Vienna; in 2009, she was also the only Australian guest at IsraDrama, and in 2013 was in residence both at Bundanon in NSW and at Kinitiras Studio in Athens, Greece.

​Deborah is presently an artist in residency at Footscray Community Arts Centre. She completed a Masters in Performance at Victoria University with ‘Here and There – Then and Now’, a video/installation/performance work looking at wedding rituals of Jewish and Muslim women. She is now in the final stages of her PHD at La Trobe University. 

KaBooM: Stories From Distant Frontlines

A moving and thoughtful response to the issues of war.Genuine theatricality that also hits us in the solar plexus Time Out 
Very powerful acting. A unique, brave and adventurous theatrical experience. Toorak Times

Cordelia, Mein Kind

Deeply textured, multi-layered and savagely poetic work.  
Douglas Leonard, Real Time Magazine.

A well honed, tightly woven one woman performance. A gutsy expression by a wonderfully seasoned theatre maker, this work is unique, empowering and totally worth seeing
Stage Whispers
A raw, visually rich and moving piece of theatre. Leiser-Moore is a compelling performer Melbourne. Arts. Fashion

"Hungry is fascinating theatre, a teasing of notions of Jewish ritual. It poses questions,
is confident but not dogmatic in its philosophy, is aesthetically strenuous."

Pamela Payne, Sydney Sun Herald.

"Leiser gives a well-defined and virtuosic physical performance."
Stephen Dunne, Sydney Morning Herald.

Hungry Hungry (13127 KB)

The Cool Room

"Director Deborah Leiser-Moore has admirably developed the play's absurdest and surreal aspects, its grotesque combination of bizarre comedy and reminders of horrific cruelties. The Cool Room is a powerful, sophisticated work, extremely well acted and directed,
from a writer of exceptional promise."

Helen Thompson, The Age.

"Leiser-Moore brought intuition and an innovative physicality to the piece."
Lenny Ann Low, Sydney Morning Herald.

"The production is striking from the outset. Leiser finds in the spaces in between
a physical language for the performers that choreographs the moral twists."

Keith Gallasch, Real Time Magazine.

Exile and Ecstasy

"The direction of Deborah Leiser-Moore was instrumental to the success. A beautifully modulated rhythm delineated by an exhilarating use of space carried moments of jubilation and contemplation, finding its emotional climax in spontaneous dancing."
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun.

A Room With No Air

"A room with no air is a ritualistic performance piece - replete with testing silences, shouts of abuse, poetic ruminations about the nature of hate and unforgivable acts. Heilmann and Leiser are both highly charged performers whose muscular, mechanised movements can evoke merciless terror one moment, fear and dread the next."
Sydney Morning Herald.

"The actors possessed visceral power and verbal potency in their portrayal of a number
of characters confronted by the challenge of race and racism."

City Hub.

"The ideas of the performers are bold and the performances invigorating. The beauty of the performance style is that each audience member will have a very personal response."
Revolver Magazine.

"With director Nikki Heywoodís guidance, Leiser and Heilmann perform 'a room with no air' with a psychological intensity I've not seen before in either, and with a physical incisiveness that charges the scenario with tension and symbolic power."
Keith Gallasch, Real Time Magazine.

"This is indeed challenging and dynamic physical theatre. This powerful yet forbidding legacy is felt through the movements of the two performers."
Stage Whispers.

A room without air 1 A room without air 1 (16855 KB)


A room without air 2 A room without air 2 (11775 KB)


"Deborah Leiser-Moore’s precise, visually intense direction yields focused performances. It’s a striking and worrying work."
Keith Gallasch, Real Time Magazine.


"The energetic performances by Terese Casu, Deborah Leiser, Aida Amirkhanian
and Michelle St Anne were captivating."

Lisa Macdonald.

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