The Creative: Writer and Performer Maitland Schnaars

Published on November 8, 2017
Categories - Blog, Read About, The Creative

A regular on the Perth theatre circuit, Maitland Schnaars will be making his debut for Black Swan Theatre Company in their upcoming production of Let the Right One In. Based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, which was then made into a film in its original Swedish and also as a US adaptation, it is a coming-of-age love story featuring vampires. I for one can’t wait to see how the poignant and haunting story is transferred to the stage when it shows at the State Theatre Centre from 11 November. Like myself, Maitland is a fan of the Swedish film and is thrilled to be a part of this production. We caught up to chat about the show and his career both on stage and behind the scenes. Claire. 

Writing or performing: where do you feel most at home?

Both are very different, but I enjoy performing more than writing. Writing for me can be a hard and sometimes painful experience.

Tell us about your career background and how you’ve come to where you are now:

I graduated from the Aboriginal Theatre course at WAAPA in 2003, then spent three years at ECU studying a BA in Contemporary Performance where I meet my two best friends and colleagues. The three of us went on to form the theatre company ‘Corazon de Vaca’. We performed shows in Perth leading up to a performance at the World Expo in Zaragoza, Spain in 2008. Since then, I have performed with numerous independent theatre companies in Perth, wrote my first play If I Drown I Can Swim and performed in two major productions for Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, King Hit and Conversations With The Dead. Recently I won the Performing Arts WA award for Best actor (male) in 2016 for Hobo.

‘Conversations With the Dead’ – Dress Rehearsal – Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company Production 18th May 2017 / Photography © Jon Green 2017 – All Rights Reserved.

Do you have a dream role to play one day?

I have read an American play called Fences by US playwright August Wilson. I would love to look at doing an adaptation of the play and to play the lead role of Troy Maxson.

I’ve seen you on stage with Yirra Yaakin and loved your work. You have also worked with other local, indie theatre companies and now with Black Swan. Considering your experience with varied companies and venues, what are your comments on the theatre scene in Perth right now?

The independent scene is not too bad, mainly due to The Blue Room. We don’t have enough smallish sized venues of 100 to 150 seats. A lack of funding for the independent sector is an issue. We are very lucky to have Yirra Yaakin, Barking Gecko and Black Swan, which all produce quality work. FRINGE WORLD Festival is incredible for both the citizens of Perth as well as independent artists.

‘King Hit’, 2014, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Maitland Schnaars and Clarence Ryan. Photo by Simon Pynt.

I hear you are a fan of the Swedish film version of Let the Right One In. (Me too!) What do you love about it?

I find the film visually stunning, with the snow and the Swedish. Having been to Sweden and spent some time there, all the images really resonate within me. I also like it for the fact it is a take on the vampire theme that I have never seen before and that really, when you reflect on the film, the vampire theme is, for me, secondary to the other themes that the film explores such as bullying, isolation and our need to belong.

How does it translate to the stage?

The play is different to the film in a lot of ways, which is different again to the book. Books, films and plays are very different mediums and can never be the same. It translates well to the stage; I find the play actually darker than the film.

Sophia Forrest and Maitland Schnaars in rehearsals for ‘Let the Right One In’, 2017, Black Swan State Theatre Company. Photo by Daniel J Grant.

Tell us about your Nordic residencies:

I had a three week residency in Malmo, Sweden at the Raulston Choreographic Center. I was living and working with a choreographer, a visual artist based in Perth and a dancer based in Stockholm. I have also spent two weeks in Norway attending a two week masterclass in physical theatre with International Theatre Lab.

What do you love about Perth?

Open space, sun and beaches.

What does Perth need?

Top end vegan restaurants.

Where’s your favourite place to grab a pre or post show meal in town?

I don’t really have one to be honest. There are so many places in Northbridge; I go to whatever tickles my fancy on the night.

‘If I Drown I can Swim’, 2013, Ward4F. Photo by Mia Holton.

Which local creatives do you admire?

Karla Hart, Phillip Walley-Stack, Kyle Morrison, Jeffrey Jay Fowler, Joe Lui and Mia Holton.

What’s up next after Let the Right One In?

Continue working with Yirra Yaakin on Macbeth in Noongar. Obtain funds to do a creative development in March 2018 of my second play Black Ants, which will then hopefully lead to a season in September 2018. Last but not least, start to look at doing a production of Fences, possibly in 2019. Maitland.

Maitland is performing a host of roles in Black Swan State Theatre Company’s Australian premiere of Let the Right One In from 11 November to 3 December in the Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA.

Considered the greatest vampire story of modern times alongside Interview with a Vampire and The Lost Boys, this chilling new play is based on the iconic Swedish novel and film of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist and adapted for the stage by renowned English screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child). Bookings at Ticketek outlets, phone 1300 795 012 or book online here.

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