The Story Addict

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BY KATIE BETZ betzka@mnstate.edu

International student Kate Bonnett is story-obsessed.

An Australian sophomore majoring in theater, Bonnett’s obsession for stories is displayed in her love for her major and for books.

Growing into theater

Though she is a theater major now, Bonnett did not discover this mode of storytelling for quite a few years. As a child Bonnett and her two sisters, Jaime and Bianca, would make up games which resembled plays in that each of them had a character and a story they were following to see where it would go.

“I didn’t realize that kind of was acting,” Bonnett said.

She became “obsessed” with theater when she took it as an extra class for credit in high school.

“It ended up being the one thing I looked forward to every single day and not even because it was easy, just because it was something that was hard work, but something that was satisfying hard work. Work that made me think, it made me feel things, it made me question the world in a way that was just so fascinating to me, and I loved it.”

-Kate Bonnett

Her first play was the musical “Hairspray,” in which she played the character of Shelley. She has been in a total of four plays in her acting career, two in high school and two during her gap year.

“I loved the idea that you can read a story but then you can be a part of it as well. I got addicted,” she said.

One of Bonnett’s memorable theater roles was acting in a musical called “Foxes.”

“This one was started by this bunch of young people who just loved theater and wanted to create a platform where more young people who loved theater could do it together and grow together,” she said. “They wrote an original musical, and we performed it.”

This photo from a production of ‘Foxes’ shows Kate Bonnett third from the right. Photos: Supplied. Riot ACT. 

The character Bonnett played in “Foxes” was deaf, which required her to learn sign language, which was “really cool.”

Currently, Bonnett is playing several roles in the upcoming production of “Charlotte’s Web” at MSUM. She will be playing Gander, a reporter and a pig. This is her first time playing multiple roles in a theatrical production. It will be her fifth play and her first in college.

Bonnett was born in the “cute” small town of Narrabri, Australia; but she considers Canberra, Australia to be her hometown. She attended “college,” which is what the last two years of high school are called in Canberra, Australia.

A clip from the musical “Foxes” featuring Bonnett as Ash, the deaf confidant of the gang leader Sierra.

A desire to get a theater degree is what led Bonnett to go to college in the United States, as there weren’t any local colleges which offered a theater major.

“My dad’s been living here for the past four years, and he always told me when I was a kid, ‘If you want to come live with me and study in America you could,’” Bonnett said. “And I was like, ‘That sounds fun.’ Never thought I’d actually do it, but I ended up doing it.”

Loving poetry and books

Bonnett’s love of stories includes a love for books and writing. As a child she grew up on the classics, finding the characters easy to relate to.

“I always felt like I should have been born in a different time, so I found those books and it just felt right,” Bonnett said.

She expresses her love of writing and words through poetry and has written several original poems. Her original poem “Shadowgirl” is only one example.

“I like that you get to say something in a way that feels truer than just saying it.”

-Kate Bonnett

Finding the right words to communicate what you’re feeling allows someone to express the truth more fully, she said.

Building campus connections

While pursuing her major, Bonnett has found connections on campus. She has been involved with Cru, a Christian organization on campus since she came to MSUM in 2018.

“Cru has just been a community that I’ve enjoyed being in since I came to college. It’s been a place I always felt really at home. I knew I wanted to find a place with other people who also share my faith.”

She was introduced to Cru by her resident assistant, Farai Tanis, and became involved as a leader of a small group this semester.

Kate Bonnett and Farai Tanis became friends during the 2018-2019 schoolyear.

Tanis is a sophomore graphic design major at MSUM. She remembers meeting Bonnett in the international student office with her dad the week before people moved into the dorms and reintroduced herself when they met on her floor. Tanis said she invited her to come to a Cru Bible study that met on their floor. Bonnett started coming and they became friends.

One night after she’d had a hard day, Tanis had Bonnett and another friend over to visit in her room. She started having a deep conversation about some hard things that were going on and then Bonnett asked if she could pray for her.  

“It was like an awesome moment where we just really clicked and God really moved,” Tanis said. “We became good friends from there.”

After completing college, Bonnett hopes to do something in the theater industry, preferably children’s theater.

“I think there is something powerful about beautiful things. We live in a word that has so much ugliness and darkness… so I think when we immerse ourselves in things that are beautiful and hopeful and truthful and honest, that gives us a release from that and inspires hope.”

-Kate Bonnett

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