Lally Katz, Associate Artist - Writing, Malthouse Theatre
Q&A: LALLY KATZ, MALTHOUSE THEATRE
It’s a sure thing; if they’ve got talent, we Australians have a tendency to credit international expats or long-term residents as ‘our own’. Think ‘Our Russell’, ‘Our Nicole’ and the like. But we’ll happily lay claim to USA-born, Melbourne-based (most of the time) playwright and performer Lally Katz.
Lally has been prolific over the past few years producing unique works spanning stage and screen. She’s currently an Associate Artist for The Malthouse Theatre, where her 2013 production STORIES I WANT TO TELL YOU IN PERSON was first brought to life.
With plenty in the pipeline, we inspired to hear what Lally has been up to lately and what’s next, and learn what she loves about her adopted hometown, Melbourne.
What does a day in the life of Lally Katz look like?
It depends! At the moment, I get up early in the morning and go and walk up this winding road on a steep hill to go teach playwriting to a group of 20 Mexican playwriting students in Cuernavaca in Mexico.
And then I have a late lunch - I am starving by 11:30am, but Mexicans don’t usually eat lunch until two or three pm. Then go home and madly write the work that I have due in Australia and try and email it by the Australian morning (afternoon at the latest), then I go exercise in the hotel gym, hoping that this other girl who uses it doesn’t hog the treadmill. There is only one treadmill and we both desperately want it. I think she stays on it longer than is fair. Then I write some more and have dinner with playwright Steven Sewell and his wife Carla (he is here teaching too) and some of the organisers and participants in the Mexican theatre festival Dramafest and then I go to bed and write some more until I fall asleep.
But that is just while I’m in Mexico. If I’m in Melbourne usually I just do laundry for half the day before walking into the Malthouse. I also have a lot of driving lessons. But truthfully, my life varies a lot because I travel so much for work and sometimes I’m in rehearsal and sometimes I’m just on my own writing.
It also depends what I’m working on. While I’m writing a play I spend a lot of time learning Karate at the dojo. While I’ve been researching Timeshare, I’ve spent a lot of time at All-Inclusive resorts. It’s a pretty good job! I feel really lucky that I get to have so much variation and so many adventures.
What’s it like to work with the team at The Malthouse Theatre as opposed to your solo projects?
It’s really great to be part of the Malthouse Team. I have learned so much about how theatre company programming works. It’s also really nice to go in there regularly and talk to people! So much of my working time is spent alone, so it’s really lovely to get to go in there and write and be part of the gang. The Malthouse team are such a fun, great group of people.
Also you can have conversations about work as you go, rather than having to stop and call someone. I like having a series of quick chats. When I first started there I worried that the other artists in the loft would talk to me too much and prevent me from working, but as it turns out I am the one always interrupting them to ask their advice about personal (and every now and then professional) matters! They have to kindly remind me sometimes when they’re on a deadline.
What are your must-visit places/venues in Melbourne?
I love so much about Melbourne and I’ve lived all around it. But at the moment, my favourite thing is walking from my house in Elwood, along the canal to the beach and up to the St Kilda Sea Baths for a swim. This is followed up by going in the steam room there, until I get really, really hot, and then running outside into the ocean, and then back into the steam room again. I would recommend that to everyone. It’s uplifting.
What do you think are the main differences in Melbourne’s culture compared to other places you’ve lived?
It’s hard to say because every place I’ve lived is so different to each other. I lived in New Jersey, Miami, Canberra and London, and they’re all very different to Melbourne, but in very different ways. I think the thing about Melbourne that is really unique is that it is a big city that is easy to get around in and live in.
I have always found the theatre scene in Melbourne to be extremely supportive. I think Melbourne has a real loyalty to its artists.
What’s next for The Malthouse theatre and your own projects?
Well right now, I think people are really excited by the programs that Marion Potts and Malthouse have put together for 2015. I’ve been googling it from Mexico and people are really excited about the program being in thematic chapters. I’m excited by it too!
Once I get back to Melbourne I’ll start up in pre-production STORIES I WANT TO TELL YOU IN PERSON (the solo show I did for Malthouse/Belvoir) and
then filming for the ABC. It’s being made into two half hour episodes for ABC Arts. I’m VERY excited about it and nervous! And then straight after that I go to Adelaide to perform the solo show.
And then Oliver Butler (New York director, who is directing and creating Timeshare with me) comes to Melbourne to do a development of the show for next season! I’m so excited about showing him Melbourne. I think he is going to love it.