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Kat Stewart. Photo: Charlie Kinross
Set The Stage

For the love of good theatre

Kat Stewart reflects on her return to the MTC stage and why theatre has the tremendous power to not only heal and transform, but to also offer an escape.

Kat Stewart’s award-winning performances on the small screen made her a household name, but for her, it all began in the theatre. ‘I didn’t have theatre in my life until my late teens, and I remember the spectacle of seeing Hysteria at MTC in 1994 and it blew my mind … just the scale of what was possible at MTC.’ And the rest, as they say, is history. After drama school, Stewart joined the Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre as an ensemble member for 10 years, appearing in more than a dozen plays. The first time she worked for MTC was in 2006’s Festen and she’s happily been coming back every couple of years, performing in Frost/Nixon, The Speechmaker, Disgraced and Heisenberg. ‘MTC is very special to me. I love working here.’

In March, Stewart returned to the Sumner for Admissions. ‘It’s pretty hard to ignore a script like Admissions. It packs a real punch. It’s funny but also confronting and provocative, it’s terrifying and exciting all at once.’ Stewart played Sherri Rosen-Mason, the head of admissions at a very prestigious high school. ‘She’s devoted her professional life to progressing an agenda of inclusivity and diversity,’ says Stewart. ‘She’s also a parent, and her real challenge in this play is working out how her instincts as a parent can align with her ideals.’


‘MTC is very special to me. I love working here.’ — Kat Stewart


It makes sense that Admissions stood out to Stewart. ‘I’m drawn to plays with substance … to plays with dynamic, full-bodied characters.’ Something she feels MTC has a responsibility to support. ‘MTC is an important part of Melbourne’s culture and has a responsibility to set a standard, not just in scripts and performances, but also in production value.’

Stewart believes that we should support theatre across the board because there’s nothing more exhilarating or transformative as a performer or an audience member. ‘When it’s good, it is unmatched by anything. There’s something very special about being in a darkened room with a group of people sharing something simultaneously – without multiple screens the way we consume content at home – something that’s alive, breathing and pulsing.’

MTC ADMISSIONS photo Jeff Busby 1371 ayeswh

Kat Stewart with Deidre Rubenstein on stage in Admissions. Photo: Jeff Busby

And it is thanks to the entire community at MTC that such transformative experiences are created. ‘I’ve always felt really supported and warmly welcomed. I’m well aware that there are a whole lot of players that are needed to make this happen, in all the departments. They might be out of our sight, but I know that there’s a whole support system in place, and that’s really special to be a part of.’

And even though Stewart admits that she can’t quite relax after a long absence off stage due to the pandemic – ‘I think we’re so jumpy, because we’ve all kind of stopped and started’ – she’s looking forward to theatre being back stronger than ever because we have so much to unpack. ‘As we continue to go through a very unique and strange and profound shift, there’s a lot for us to get our heads around.’ And what better way to process and explore the last few years than on stage. ‘But also to help us to escape a little. We need a bit of that, too,’ Stewart smiles. ‘Just to be together again. I’m really excited to be both in the audience and on stage.’

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Published on 26 April 2022

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