Janet Andrewartha, in the MTC's production of Music. Photo: Pam Kleemann
1. While TV viewers around the world know you as Lyn Scully on Neighbours, you've always kept your hand in acting on stage. What drew you to the MTC's latest production, the world premiere of Music by Barry Oakley?
I'm always keen to be involved with new Australian work. Through the '90s, I did a lot of world premieres of work by Michael Gurr, Barry Dickins and Nick Enright. It's a great privilege to be involved in a work with the writer and director, getting something from the page onto the stage for the first time. Another big plus was that I knew these three actors very well (Paul English, Robert Menzies and Richard Piper). So it was a win-win.
2. What does your character deal with in Music?
She's a concert pianist of sorts. In the very first scene of the play, she learns from their doctor that her husband is about to die of cancer. Everything spins off into a completely different world from that.
3. You've been in Prisoner, Embassy, and the mini-series Moby Dick playing opposite Patrick Stewart. How does working on the stage make you a better screen actor, and vice versa?
When I work with students, I often say, ''The truth is the truth''. Whether you're going for it past the lens or past the footlights, it's basically the same job, though, of course, there are different techniques involved.
4. What's the best thing about being famous in Europe?
This year I met some people in Scotland who are long-time fans of Prisoner; they've often written to my agent and asked if I'd go over. I couldn't believe it, there were dozens of people there asking me a tonne of questions about their favourite Prisoner episodes. It's so dear to go overseas and find people whose hobby is something I did 30 years ago!
5. What have you seen on TV lately that has impressed?
The adaptation of Patrick White's The Eye of the Storm. Helen Morse was amazing in it; so was Judy Davis. The whole production was gorgeous.
6. Where in the world would you most like to visit?
I was in Ireland this year for a conference and though I tried my best, I didn't get to Cork, where my maternal grandparents are from. It's economically depressed, but people are so cheerful and helpful. I long to go back.
The MTC's world premiere of Music, by Barry Oakley, is on Wednesday.