Sep 21, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 261: Kate Fodor
Hometown: I spent the first half of my childhood in Connecticut and the second in New York City.
Current Town: Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (It’s a long story. A beautiful place and a long story.)
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m putting the finishing touches on a play called Rx, which is a romantic comedy (of a sort) set in the pharmaceutical industry. Or maybe it’s already done and I’ll leave it alone! It’s always so hard to tell. Also, I’m on what might be the last draft of a film adaptation of Elissa Wall’s memoir Stolen Innocence; I’m reading everything I can about the history of the birth-control pill for a play I’ve just started that’s (maybe) called Bedfellows; and I’m thinking in the shower about a musical for young people. I’m also about to take my first-ever playwriting class: Jeffrey Hatcher’s Art of Adaptation workshop in Philadelphia. I’m nervous.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: I narrated everything I did -- in my head and sometimes even aloud. It was third-person, past-tense and pretty much constant. If I was trotting up some steps, I’d think (or say) to myself, “She trotted up the steps.” If I was drifting off to sleep, I’d think, “She drifted off to sleep.” I thought about everything in terms of how it could be told as a story, and pretty much still do.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: Oh, you know, I guess I’d make it a little less fucking heartbreaking for people. Especially actors.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Margaret Edson is one, because she came in, wrote a gorgeous, heart-stopping, fiercely funny, unbearably tragic play, and then went back to teaching kindergarten, because that’s important, too.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Anything that deeply excited the people who made it. I don’t like slick, I don’t like flippant, I don’t like wise-ass. I’m a post-ironic kind of girl. I want catharsis. I want to believe.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: This is, oddly, from Cary Tennis, Salon.com’s advice columnist. I stumbled across it when I was procrastinating by looking for a juicy story about someone’s lurid, kinky problems. Instead, there was a letter from a novelist who was thinking about giving up writing, and a beautiful, brilliant response that read (in part):
“Remember that as a writer you must find your motivation internally, not in external rewards, and you work in opposition to the system, not as a supplicant to the system. Whatever contingent truces you have maintained with the system in order to participate in its orderly orgies of consumption and distribution, good for you. But you are not a part of the system. You are a free creative worker. You do not need the system to do your creating. You only need it as a utility to reach your audience, and increasingly not even for that. On the other hand, the system cannot create anything on its own. It can only manage and distribute. So it needs you. It needs you but it is not on your side. Remember that.”