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ON STAGE | with Cat Smits

THEATRE - Cat is a passionate dutch actress and writer, she talks about her experience as a mother and artist on tour and shares with us the secret about how she gets more sleep than most parents. I forgot to ask her how she decided on her baby's name, you'll get why in a minute... Enjoy it!

What's your name and where do you come from and where were you born?

My name is Cat Smits. I was born on june 10 1982 in The Hague.

What was your occupation or what kind of work you did around the time you became a mum?

I am an actress. I started acting from a very young age. I remember passing the ‘Uitmarkt’ (theater preview festival) when I was five and begging my parents to sign me up for a theater group, but I was too young. At nine I played my first role as a child actor in a professional show and even though my parents tried to temper me a little, my whole childhood I dreamed of being an actor. And that is what I ended up doing. At thirty I was living that dream and playing for the Ulrike Quade Company. In one month we toured from Norway to France, Italy and back to Norway. I enjoyed that life, the freedom and the possibilities, travelling, meeting new people all the time, but one morning I woke up in my hotel room in Norway and realised I felt something different. All of a sudden, my clock had started tick.

The day we found out I was pregnant I had to leave fro Switzerland for 3 months to perform in one of Ulrike Quades new shows. Those months involved a lot of skype with my girlfriend Maja and trips back and forth.

I performed until I was 6,5 months pregnant. After that my belly became too big to be flexible enough on stage, but I was writing for a new performance and had the last meeting on the script on the day my labour started.

Where do you live and work at the moment?

At the moment I’m writing and performing for PLAY Productions, a group I founded together with Puck van Dijk. Our studio is in Amsterdam.

How long did you work for during your pregnancy and after how long did you start again?

My whole pregnancy I was writing, directing a piece for an other actress and producing our new play. Six weeks after the baby was born I started working again on producing the show and 4 months after the baby was born I went on tour, together with him tot do one of Ulrike’s show

Did you get support with maternity pay?

I did get maternity pay from the government.

How was your pregnancy?

I had a really easy pregnancy and stayed fit until the baby was born.

What were your thoughts about work and did you have something planned, did you stop, for how long?

I was not at all worried about having the baby and going on with life. Some people warned me it would be difficult, but for me it wasn’t so hard. Iza is an easy and very happy baby. And health-wise I was lucky I think.

How was the birth?

I listened to a lot of experiences of friends and that helped a lot. The birth took it’s time, but went well all in all.

How was your post natal experience?

Our baby has lived in two families from the start. Half of the time he is with me and Maja and half of the time he is with his father, Bas and his boyfriend Plattyny. We’re all very fond of each other and have a bit more time to catch up with sleep than most parents because of this schedule.

How do you take decisions between four of you? Do you have a voting system ;) ?

We haven’t had trouble making decisions yet. For now all seems to be going very harmonious. Before Iza was born we made a 'declaration of intention’ in which we agree on making sure we do what’s good for Iza and also making sure there is enough space for all the parents to follow their heart and thus be happy people/parents as an example for our kid. That has worked well up to now :)

After the birth of your baby (babies) did something change towards how you were thinking about work or when to go back?

I watched the documentary ‘Babies’ before Iza was born and I loved how especially the Mongolian baby was immediately part of the mother’s life. She didn’t seem to change so much about her life, but just included him in it. I found that very inspiring. I wanted to keep going as I did and bring the little one along. In the beginning that worked really well. We just made a corner for him with a lot of blankets and toys in the studio. Now he has more a mind of his own an is much happier playing and crawling around than when he has to come to the studio.

What you did and how you managed, who helped and how?

We are with four parents, that already makes all the difference in the world. And our families and friends are a big help as well.

How much support did you feel like you had for combining motherhood with work? (From partners, parents, friends, colleagues, society at large, government institutions etc...)

After I had the baby I worked mostly for PLAY Productions together with Puck. And we are really flexible about bringing Iza or improvising around him.

Cat Smits - Artistic director PLAY The Netherlands

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