INTERVIEW: KAT CHAN Theatre Designer

Jo Briscoe interviews Theatre Designer and APDG member Kat Chan following her appointment to the 2018 Women in Theatre program at Melbourne Theatre Company.

APDG: Congratulations on being named one of the participants in the 2018 Women in Theatre program at Melbourne Theatre Company! 

KC: Thank you!

APDG: How did you first get interested in a theatre design career? Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?

KC: I don’t think I knew I wanted to be a designer until I failed my entrance exam into Medicine after high school! I’d always been creative in some way – drawing, sculpting – but had never admitted to myself it could be a career. I found a way to channel my ideas through architecture and after studies I was fortunate enough to work for a couple of years in Adelaide and Tokyo as an architect. Eventually I grew impatient to see the ideas and worlds in my head become a reality and that is how I found my curly way into Theatre Design.

APDG: What aspects do you most enjoy about your work?

KC: I have a dilettante-ish nature and am ever curious, so I love that every project allows me to learn and hone-in on something be it an era, culture, movement, mood, etc and to then meld it into a point of view.

I also love the collaboration that production design requires – from the director to the cutter or art finisher. It’s so rewarding to present a work and have others offer to help you colour it in and breathe life into it.

APDG: What are you looking forward to as part of your time at MTC this year?

KC: I am looking forward to just being present – to accept that I have been given this seat at the table with these inspiring women at MTC to explore what my career can be. As a part of the program I also have a wonderful mentor, Christina Smith, so I look forward to learning more from her and making connections through the year.

APDG: From where and whom do you draw your inspiration?

KC: I find inspiration in everyday observations, podcasts, overseas travels, art galleries and badly remembered 80’s/90’s films. Specifically, and in no particular order, the people that inspire me with their creativity or ‘eye’ are Mark Ryden, Iris Van Herpen, Tadao Ando, Es Devlin, Eiko Ishioka, Inez and Vinoodh…and the Muppets.

APDG: Where would you like to be in the next five years?

KC: My Vaseline-lensed vision of me in five years is working as a full time multi-disciplinary designer, the next five years spent exploring how to diversify – working in theatre as well as looking into other ways to tell stories through design.

The APDG congratulates Kat on her placement at MTC and thanks her for her time.

Kat Chan