Weekend Q&A: The Belfast Ensemble's Kate Guelke, assistant director of Conor Mitchell's new musical Propaganda

Kate Guelke (34) is assistant director of the Belfast Ensemble whose new musical Propaganda by Conor Mitchell runs from today in the Belfast International Arts Festival at the Lyric Theatre

Kate Guelke of the Belfast Ensemble
Kate Guelke of the Belfast Ensemble Kate Guelke of the Belfast Ensemble

How do you unwind at the weekend?

When I get free time, I go swimming. On Sunday last I went to the Andytown Baths, not doing lengths but just floating in the water at the side. I also love putting my head under water so you can't hear anything. It was great, a lot of fun and very relaxing. I love watching movies too, and I like to bake cookies and cakes. My favourite recipe is a milk sponge with lots of vanilla in and a lot of butter cream between the layers.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

From four to seven, I lived in South Africa which is where my parents come from – my mum's an actress, my father's an academic. It was different, with a big sky, but I love Belfast and working for the Belfast Ensemble, although the weather's different. This was at the end of apartheid and my father Adrian, who is a political scientist, was excited about this and got pretty involved. In fact, he wrote a book about it, The Misunderstood Miracle. Even as a privileged white kid, I knew it was an exciting time. There was integrated schooling and although there was a lot of violence - my dad survived an assassination attempt in a case of mistaken identity - it was a bit like seeing the Berlin Wall coming down.

Do you have a must-listen weekend radio programme or podcast?

I like The Guilty Feminist, and also Conor Mitchell's podcast.

Is there a must-watch TV programme or Netflix?

When in rehearsal, I like something relevant, so binge-watched The Defeated, all about Berlin in the time Propaganda is set. It's resonant for a Northern Irish audience as the characters need to negotiate a place, find out where is safe and where you can go.

Is Sunday still special?

I wasn't brought up in the church and my parents are both atheists. But I find classical music has an air of soul and as theatre work is 24/7 it's good to have a space and a bit of time off. That said, I like my work and being in rehearsal.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or is it a takeaway?

I love Deanes Meat Locker and for a takeaway, I am partial to a Sphinx chip.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I do sometimes get a slight panic attack or that 'Have I done my homework' feeling. But I like my job and Propaganda has been great to work on.

:: Propaganda runs at The Lyric Theatre until November 5 as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival. Lyrictheatre.co.uk, 028 9038 1081.