FRIENDS and family thought Maitland Schnaars was having a mid-life crisis in 2002 when at 36 years old he decided to pursue a career in acting.
The decision could not have been further from the truth.
“I had three-year-old triplets and one night when I went in to check on them sleeping, it just hit me,” Schnaars, of Yokine, said.
“How could I tell them to chase their dreams if I’ve been too scared to chase mine? It made me stop and question what my dream actually was. I grew up in a family where all the men played football. I didn’t want my kids to live with regrets and as parents we are a role model for our children.”
Although he had failed English at school and had not read a single play, Schnaars had started doing poetry performances and wanted to see how far he could go with them.
He studied the Aboriginal Theatre course at WAAPA in 2003 and has continued his acting career on the Perth theatre circuit including last year’s Black Swan State Theatre Company production Let the Right One In.
“Success or failure was irrelevant but I’ve been lucky enough that things have worked out quite well,” he said.
“And now my kids are chasing their dreams, with my sons dancing in Co3 contemporary dance company and my daughter doing the Aboriginal Theatre course at WAAPA too.”
Schnaars, who grew up between Perth and Merredin, is doing his first major tour in Tasmania Performs production The Season featuring a rare combination of Aboriginal writer, director and cast of seven.
“It was written by Nathan Maynard who is an Aboriginal fella from Tasmania and his family for generations has been going to Big Dog Island to catch mutton birds,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful, well-written play about a family who does just that and there’s lots of humour in it and some poignant moments.”
Schnaars plays the role of Ben, patriarch of the family, and said the production gave an insight into Indigenous Tasmania.
“I’m a Noongar man and we never had to prove our existence, whereas Indigenous Tasmanians had to prove that they existed,” he said.
“Even us other Indigenous actors in the cast thought there was no Indigenous Tasmanians left. It’s about letting the broader population know that Aboriginal Tasmanians do exist and there are differences between cultures but there are also similarities. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
What; The Season
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When: August 24 and 25