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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

May 13, 2010

I Interview Playwrights Part 168: Kate Moira Ryan

Kate Moira Ryan


My hometown is Yonkers, New York.

Current Town:

Currently I live in Brooklyn Heights section of NYC.

Q: Tell me about Bass For Picasso.

A: In Bass for Picasso a food writer for The New York Times throws a dinner party for her friends recreating recipes from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. The guest list includes Pilar, her multilingual art detective lover, who has spent time in Guantanamo for visa problems; Bricka Matson, a lesbian widow with a small child and Republican in-laws who are trying to gain custody; Joe, an OB/GYN whose lover is a geographically challenged crystal meth addict; and Kev, a playwright who has recently fallen off the wagon and written a soon-to open Off-Broadway play about all of them.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: Oh God, what am I not working on. Christian Parker the Associate Artistic Director at the Atlantic Theater said to me this weekend that I am probably the most eclectic writer he knows. I am working on the book to a musical loosely based on Diana Oughton, a member of the 70’s radical group the Weathermen. (She got blown up in the townhouse on West 11th street.) David Clement is doing the music. With Linda Chapman (my collaborator from the Beebo Brinker Chronicles), I am working on the obscenity trial of The Well of Loneliness, a rather dour groundbreaking Lesbian novel written by an equally dour woman by the name of Radclyffe Hall. And this summer at Williamstown, Judy Gold and I will be continuing our long time collaboration and will be presenting her latest one person show, It’s Jewdy’s Show, My life as a sitcom which will be directed by Amanda Charlton.

Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A: Well, when I was a child, I wanted to be a boy. I think being a boy for me meant not wearing little smocked dresses that my mother had sewn and being able to play with as many guns as possible. Well, I was sent to this very sweet Presbyterian nursery school where they sang songs in French and the teachers seemed like they were 105. One day as I was playing dress up, I put on the batman cape and I was told to take it off because girls did not wear batman capes. And I refused. And I was made to sit in the corner. The great thing is that when my Mom picked me up, she agreed with me. I mean I wasn’t daughter she expected, but my mother has always been an unabashed feminist.

Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A: I would have my work done more. I would lower the production values on new plays and do a ton more new plays. I would cast more disabled people in abled roles. I would call my company ephemeral theater- I’d get the work up, get it seen and then move on to the next one. I’d do the work of emerging, established writers. And I’d also make it cross cultural. I love Eastern European work. This past year I did an adaptation of Olga Mukhina’s play TANYA TANYA for the New Russian Drama Festival at Towson University.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A: I love Stephen Sondheim and Tom Stoppard. I am also a huge fan of Moss Hart. I also love the work of my contemporaries like Doug Wright and I have to say David Pittu’s WHAT’S THAT SMELL-will always be among my top ten faves.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A: Theater that’s fun, inventive and a little off, but you know I am an old show tune queen, so slam me into a seat watching Sweeney Todd and I am in heaven.

Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A: Produce your own work, don’t be afraid to try TV to support yourself (I wish I had) and work on as many different types of vehicles as possible. Don’t ‘write what you know’ there’s a great goddamn world out there and the public library to find out about it-write what you want to know.

Q: Plugs:

A: Come see BASS FOR PICASS0. You can get twenty dollar tiks by going on ticketcentral.com and putting in the promo code staf (f). It’s a very fun zany play that is horrifying the critics by how demented it is. And the best part is I get you in and out in 75 minutes.


carolet said...

I really enjoyed this interview. You gave a clear picture of your liked, dislikes and plans for the future. Love the fact that you would promote disabled actors. thank you.

anthony said...

I am wondering how I might get ahold of Kate, I am directing "The Beebo Brinker Chronicles" for Stage West in Des Moines and I would like to discuss the play a bit. My email is nelanthony@gmail.com