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Lally Katz: Herself & the Psychics

August 2013

  • Robert Dunstan

Award winning playwright Lally Katz’s one-hander, Stories I Want to Tell You in Person, in which she stars, is now coming to the playwright’s hometown of Melbourne for Malthouse following a run in Sydney at Belvoir St.

Commissioned by Belvoir St to write a play about a fortune teller, Katz spent the money visiting several psychics in New York and ended up penning a humorous work about herself and her experiences.

Preview shows were well-received but just hours before official opening night the American-born writer suddenly took quite ill and was hospitalised for a few days.

“So that story then became the ending when I eventually got to go on stage,” Katz says. “And because I’d been over to New York messing around with some psychics who form a big part of the show, I thought they may have put some kind of curse on me. I was actually pretty sure of that. So I had to go back to New York and ask about that and while there I also got some new stories to add to the show.

“Because I live in Melbourne, most of it is set here,” she then adds. “Doing it here will actually give me more room to include even more stuff about Melbourne.”

Katz, who says her Wikipedia entry is full of incorrect information that drives her father crazy, says she is often prone to procrastination when writing.

“My director, Anne-Louise Sarks, is always asking if I’ve done the re-writes yet,” she laughs. “And while it drives me crazy and makes me feel really guilty, I think that while I’m doing stuff like cleaning the house, my subconscious is still working. So by doing all the actual writing at the very last minute, it’s like I’m just getting out what I’ve been working on in my head for days on end.

“But you never know because I always worry that I won’t get something finished on time,” Katz continues. “But when I was younger I thought the world would end if I missed a deadline. You know what, it doesn’t. So deadlines are now a little bit more elastic in my head.”

Katz is enjoying her new-found experience of treading the boards.

“Even when I was just the playwright I would be at the theatre every night taking it all in,” she enthuses. “And I’ve always loved public speaking and acting is a bit like that except that it’s a performance. But it’s not as if I’m doing Shakespeare – I don’t ever think I could do anything like that – because I’m actually just being myself on stage.”

She is of the opinion that Stories I Want to Tell You in Person may have longevity as it’s the kind of work she can add to and subtract from as the occasion demands.

“There’s now talk of it going to New York later in the year,” Katz concludes. “It would be an easy show to tour because it’s basically just me. Oh, but there is a bear in it which the stage manager plays.”

Stories I Want to Tell You in Person shows at the Malthouse, Beckett Theatre, from August 9 to August 25. Opening Night Tuesday, August 13 at 7pm

All photos: Heidrun Lohr




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