On the Couch with Tomáš Kantor

Tomas Kantor AAR On the CouchWho is Tomáš Kantor?
Tomáš Kantor is a big-eyed, curly-haired, queer, multidisciplinary performing artist from Melbourne, who will be playing the leading role of ‘Toby Darling’ in Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance at fortyfivedownstairs.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Ten years ago, I thought I’d be a lawyer. Five years ago, the pivot was teaching. Now I’m relishing in this momentum as an actor, but I can see directing and writing on the horizon. Five years from now who knows! A delight in language, flare for performance, and sense of fulfilment in creativity, collaboration and connection seem to unite all these versions of me – I’d say, in whatever I do, these qualities are non-negotiable.

Who inspires you and why?
I am endlessly inspired by my family and their unique ways of expressing love. My Nonno who taught me to tell stories, my Nonna who imparted the pleasure of communing over food, my mum who gifted me song and nurtures my sensitivity, my dad who invites me to play boldly, my brother and sister who rouse me to ridiculousness and keep me grounded in equal measure. And my friends who make me LAUGH. And because mums are just the best, an extra shout-out to mine, my fiercest protector, whose resilience and humour and warmth inspire me every day.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
We could all do with a bit more empathy. For each other, for strangers, for loved ones, for ourselves. In the way we argue and work and love, in the face of tragedy, division, fear, prejudices, divergent politics and ideology – I’ve personally found cultivating empathy helps me to get by and understand myself and my peers and the world. I think it is a skill that needs to be actively practiced and checked, and in doing so is taught.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love Italy. I love a beach. I love a beach in Italy. I think I might feel the pull of la dolce vita on an ancestral level…

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Sun’s out. We’ll grab a coffee and sandwich at Florian, wander over to picnic in Edi Gardens. Laze around chatting with a bottle of orange wine or a beer. Turns overcast? Classic Melbourne! Let’s tram into town and check out Triennial at the NGV. And obviously head to fortyfivedownstairs before 11 February to catch the hottest show of the summer before it closes… duh.

What are you currently reading?
I’m almost through Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski, which has been a vivid, brutal and heartfelt read. Otherwise, The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez has consumed most of my attention as we work to wrangle this six-hour two-part beast of a play. Both stories have reverberated through me deeply, they feel like contemporary gay classics.

What are you currently listening to?
My mix for my character Toby is scoring my life right now – Radiohead, Mitski, Bowie, Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers – intensely yearning and melancholic. But Beyonce’s Renaissance album start to finish at the gym is keeping me buoyant!

Happiness is?
A huge bowl of Nonna’s fettuccini primavera, heaped Grana-Padano cheese, spattered chili flakes. The cacophony of whatever impassioned Italian family drama prevails today. A song together around the marble table. Afternoon coffee and gossip with the siblings. Throw in giving a big tree a hug. O Dio Mio, it doesn’t get better than that!

What does the future hold for you?
I’ve got some fun projects lined up this year, and I’m sitting on a cabaret that’s begging to be staged. There’s so much future ahead and so many possibilities, it’s wonderful and terrifying. Time keeps flying by, and with so much ‘what’s next’ in this business, I always remind myself to stay present. I’m so privileged to live my life doing what I love, and I try my best to make the most of every moment and not take a second for granted.

Tomáš stars as Toby Darling in the Australian premiere of The Inheritance by Matthew López – which will be presented at fortyfivedownstairs: 17 January – 11 February, as part of the 2024 Midsumma Festival. For more information, visit: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com for details.

Image: Tomáš Kantor (supplied)