Katerina Winterova - National Theatre actress AND award-winning singer

Katerina Winterova

I'm joined today by Katerina Winterova (27), who is an actress at the National Theatre in Prague. She also sings with the critically acclaimed band Ecstasy of St Theresa, and last year was named female singer of the year at the Czech music industry's Andel awards. Katerina, could I first ask if you remember the first time you ever performed on a stage?

Katerina Winterova
"Yeah, I was in a group of young people and we did some fairytales. I was I think twelve years old."

You told me earlier that you went to the conservatory but then afterwards didn't act for a while - why did you not act immediately after you left school?

"Because I thought that theatre is...there are too many lies and it's not real life. And I wanted to go to some factory and work like normal people (laughs)."

And did you work in a factory?

"Yeah, it was something like that but after half a year I was totally confused and I said I should prepare for theatre. It's better for me than to go every day at the same time to a factory. I think I'm here for acting and singing, on the stage (laughs)."

As I said, you're at the National Theatre - was it difficult for you to get a place at the National Theatre, which of course is very highly respected in this country?

"I wanted to be in some theatre and the National Theatre is in Prague, and I wanted to stay in Prague. For me...I think you can do good theatre in the National Theatre and in a theatre not in Prague."

Is it the case that the National Theatre is like similar theatres in other countries, in that it's maybe a bit conservative and afraid to try out new playwrights?

"Yes, I think this is a bit of a problem at the National Theatre, but now we have a new boss and he is young, he prepares some dramaturgy with new people, new playwrights, he wants to play in the National Theatre new dramas from the present, not from the past. It's a problem here but maybe in Germany this is not a problem so much, because they have a big theatre history and they are ready to play present-day dramas. So we have to start to play these dramas and use, if I can say use, young directors with young thinking."

As far as I know you've taken just a few small roles in films - aren't you interested in being in any Czech films?

"Yes, I am interested in it but maybe nobody wants me, I don't know (laughs)...I don't like new Czech films. I'm waiting for something interesting for me."

Moving on, you're also the singer in Ecstasy of St Theresa - how did you go from acting to singing?

"I played in school some performance but the performance wasn't like drama, it was with songs and with lyrics, a little bit with acting but it wasn't like theatre. And I met there Jan Muchov from Ecstasy of St Theresa, he liked me voice and he asked me if I wanted to be in his group, so..."

Was singing something you always wanted to do?

"Yes, it was my dream (laughs)."

I saw your first concert with Ecstasy of St Theresa and I remember that you didn't talk to the audience. I actually thought you were English, because you were singing in English. Is it the case that you are shy when you perform with the band, because unlike acting it's just you?

"Not so much now, but in the before it was terrible for me to be on stage in front of people, I wanted to tell them 'go home' (laughs) because I was so shy. Now I think I'm better, I can speak with people. I have to be better, I have to practice speaking with people. I'm shy."

What do you enjoy most about playing music?

"I think work in the studio. It's great, only with Jan, with a guitar...but now I think gigs - it's great because you feel the energy."

Is it the case that because you also perform in the theatre that you haven't got time to play so many gigs or do tours?

"You know, we don't want to play so many concerts, because I think this music is not good for playing every Friday in some club, so it's better to enjoy a few gigs, a few concerts, than to play every day somewhere. And as for time - it's a problem sometimes with theatre and concerts, because I have so much work in the theatre. But I think it's better to play less gigs."

Recently your album "Slowthinking", which came out in this country last year, was released in Britain. I see you've got a lot of good reviews in England - I saw one review which gave you four stars out of five. Also in the review it compared you to the Icelandic singer Bjork - does it bother you when people say that you sing like Bjork?

"Yeah (laughs), because they say it every time. I love her and I like her so much, I like her singing and her music but I don't want to be like somebody. She influences me, I have to work on it (laughs). I don't want to be like Bjork...I want to be like Katherine Winter (laughs)."

Last year you were named Czech female singer of the year at the Andel music awards, but that also brought attention on you from the Czech showbiz tabloid magazines. They write about your appearance and your personal life - how do you feel about that?

"I hate it, I hate this 'business machine'. But, I'm the winner and they have to write about me, but I don't know why they write about my personal life. I hate it."

Can you see yourself in the future staying working in both theatre and music?

"I was thinking about leaving one of them, leaving theatre or leaving music, but I can't, it's....I love it (laughs). So I think I will stay in the theatre, or I will play dramas, and I will prepare new music so I think both...I love."