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Catrin Stewart: ‘It feels like an exciting time to be at Clwyd’

Catrin Stewart. Photo: Johan Persson Catrin Stewart. Photo: Johan Persson

The Welsh actor is best known for her role in Sky1’s Stella, but her theatre credits include a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Georgia Snow talks to her as she plays the lead in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Theatr Clwyd.

Are you enjoying taking on this role?

Getting to play this part is amazing. I think I am quite young to play Maggie and I wouldn’t necessarily get to play it at my age, so it’s a huge challenge as well. It feels like an exciting time to be at Clwyd, with Tamara [Harvey] taking over there, and working with Rob [Hastie, director]. Rob lets us work out our own way of playing the characters, which is great. It’s just such an amazing play and the writing is so good, you can trust in it so much.

Has acting always been something you have wanted to do?

I did a lot of performing at school and I went to a local drama group, but didn’t start to take it seriously until I was about 14 or 15. Even then, when I auditioned for a TV thing and a casting director advised me to apply for drama school, I didn’t really know what that was. I hadn’t really been around theatre in that sense, and there wasn’t much theatre going on in Cardiff then. I applied for the National Youth Theatre of Wales and I loved that, so I applied for drama school when I was 18. A lot of the drama schools I applied for, I felt like they expected you to have seen a lot of theatre and I just hadn’t. I didn’t know enough about it, I just knew I loved to do it. I ended up at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama because that felt the most comfortable.

Have you had a stand-out moment in your career to date?

I always think of doing Romeo and Juliet, with Robert Icke for Headlong. He’s doing amazingly now, so I feel really privileged to have done that. And [Juliet] is such an iconic part, it was a pinch-yourself moment. I hadn’t done a professional, full-length Shakespeare before, so it was a risk to give that part to me. I learnt so much about the language, and about the craft, doing that job.

What do you find most challenging in roles?

All the parts I have played have been very different to me, but there have been times when I’ve thought: “Oh she’s really mean.” It’s not up to me to decide if my characters are nice or not, my job is to portray a character who has reasons for being who they are. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges: not trying to make the characters sympathetic, but to let the audience decide.

CV: Catrin Stewart

Training: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (2007-10)
First professional role: The Devil Inside Him, National Theatre Wales (2010)
Agent: The Artists Partnership

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs at Theatr Clwyd until March 5

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