GASLIGHT - Queensland Theatre

In the Haus: Toby Schmitz

Queensland Theatre’s latest production, ‘Gaslight’, a modern adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s 1940s suspenseful thriller, is poised to become the theatrical highlight of 2024. Featuring the talented Toby Schmitz in the role of Jack, this production embarks on its Australian tour, starting with a premiere in Queensland Theatre’s 2024 season before gracing stages across the nation, from Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre to Sydney’s Roslyn Packer Theatre.

Schmitz’s portrayal of Jack promises to add a compelling layer to the play’s intricate exploration of manipulation and the quest for truth, which is all set against the backdrop of a seemingly idyllic but deeply troubled household.

Theatre Haus sat down with Toby to talk about how he got into acting, starting with school plays in Perth and moving on to drama school. As he gets ready for his role in ‘Gaslight’,  Toby shares how he enjoys the challenge of creating suspense on stage and the simple joy of working with a great team. Read the full interview below.

We’d love to know more about the beginning of your career – where and how did you get your start? 

I always acted, at school in Perth, and then in university dramatics instead of attending lectures. I was doing stand-up when I left for NIDA and have been at it in some form since I graduated. I simply always dug it. You can do storytelling anywhere. Telling stories is what raises us above trout. Though they may have rich inner lives we’re not privy to.

What or who were some of your early influences or inspirations that shaped your career?

Getting a laugh always felt good, as a kid, and it still does. It’s a generous and unifying thing, it can also get you out of scrapes. Barry Humphries and Clive James were important to me. As were the Pythons. ‘Three Amigos’ is still my desert island flick.

What would you consider some of the most defining moments or milestones in your career so far?

Oh, every gig defines one. Doing a Chokito commercial as much as Hamlet. You acquire new tools, learn things about yourself, meet weirdos and have adventures that you’d never conjure up by yourself.

What is a quirky fact about you, or something people wouldn’t expect about your story? 

Surprising, quirk revelations? That’ll cost ya. (I prefer folding cash.)

What are you currently working on and how has that creative process been?

I’m hurtling towards opening this play ‘Gaslight’ for an Australian tour. It’s a very happy, deliciously talented bunch, and we’re getting serious kicks out of crafting a thriller on stage. They come along rarely in theatre, interestingly. Tightly plotted, edge-of-your-seat stuff, where the audience is hard-pressed not to shout out ‘don’t go in there!’

In The Haus: Toby Schmitz
Toby Schmitz stars as Jack in ‘Gaslight’, playing at Queensland Theatre until 3 March 2024.
What’s in your rehearsal bag that you can’t go without? 

I rock up with a pencil and turn my phone off. That’s the deeply satisfying, sort of rock and roll thing, for me. It’s making shapes and saying words. Story time.

Do you have a reading, teaching/advice, institution or resource that changed your life/perspective, which you’d recommend to others?

Well, the kind of acting I do is text-based. It’s of great solace to me to be able to interrogate every comma. All answers, I’ve found, are in the words. Unsure about something? At a loss? If I stare at the words, even just in my head, possibilities flower.

What advice would you give to a young person today aspiring to walk in your shoes?

Size 10.

What are your future aspirations or projects that you’re excited about? Do you have a dream role?

I managed to tick off some arguably humble dreams early, and I have always sucked a bit at ambition and aspiration, likely to my detriment. I aspire to pay my rent? That’s clear-cut and boring as all get out. I’m heaps thankful for my lot.

Theatre Haus is the ‘home of theatre’, where, what or who do you call home?

You had me at theatre.

‘Gaslight’ opens at Queensland Theatre tonight, and performs at QPAC until 3 March 2024. For more information and to book tickets, visit their website or follow @gaslightplayau. 

Want to feature in our In The Haus series? Email [email protected].

Photography by Brett Boardman

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