Tuesday, October 04, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 880: Kate Tucker Fahlsing

Kate Tucker Fahlsing

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Current Town:  I’m currently a lady without a town! I’ve been spending a lot of time in Chicago and New York City though.

Q:  Tell me about Across The Park.

A:  Across the Park is a new play that explores mental illness, existential despair, technology and modern romance. It’s a part of seven shows being produced in conjunction with The Araca Project. Here’s the blurb:

Stuck on an island with 8 million people, Caroline and Denny are lonely and over-medicated. Separated by Central Park and almost two decades in age, this dysfunctional pair is brought together online by lust and their inability to cope. ACROSS THE PARK follows Denny and Caroline’s non-traditional relationship for ten years and about ten thousand text messages. This dark comedy takes a candid look at mental illness, the search for human connection, and what happens when the only person who truly understands you is as damaged as you are.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I’m currently working on a collection of short plays entitled, Sexual Offending. The plays explore offenses of a sexual nature that happen often, but are not necessarily deemed criminal, like, the intentional passing of an STD, virtual prostitution, forcing a woman to take Plan B, and childhood sexual exploration.

I’m also developing a play called, Indian River. It takes place in Indian River, Michigan, which boasts the world’s largest Crucifix. The play follows a group of summer camp counselors on their last night off of the summer. It’s a collective coming of age story that takes a look at the history of a forgotten part of the country; a tumultuous relationship between local law enforcement and tourists, and a fateful night that will change these teens lives forever.

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

A:  My mom tells me that as soon as I could talk, I said everything. And as soon as I could write, I wrote everything. I had three imaginary friends "Urmop", "Dinnen", and "Jodah". Urmop was the protagonist of my world. I expressed my beliefs and ideas and dreams through her. Dinnen and Jodah were troublemakers and I articulated my values, moral code, and right and wrong through them. I'm a somewhat angsty human, so I need to talk about this-whole-thing-called-life out loud.

As a child, I definitely tried to push people's buttons to see what I could get away with saying. I once made a joke about old wrinkly balls at a potluck full of biologists (my mother's co-workers). It didn't go over too well. I learned quickly that they weren't my audience. My mantra is to write about the things we can't discuss at the dinner table (old wrinkly balls being one example). I clearly haven't changed a whole lot from childhood. Come see my plays. I will be happy if you leave feeling a little uncomfortable, a little offended, and questioning why you thought that inappropriate line was so funny.

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

A:  I would make it way more accessible to make and see new work. I feel strongly that theater needs a revolution similar to TV where we make it easier to access live performance, promote more unique--less commercial productions, and also have a much greater variety of shows to see. I seek out authentic storytelling experiences that represent all kinds of people and worlds.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I love Ibsen, Chekhov, and Sam Shepard. I’m a huge fan of Annie Baker’s work. I studied performance art in conjunction with the La MaMa theatre back in 2007, so I’ve been greatly influenced by people like Penny Arcade and The Living Theater’s Judith Malina. I also had the privilege of being mentored by Thomas Bradshaw, Zayd Dohrn, and Rebecca Gilman while I was a graduate student in Northwestern University’s MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage program. I cannot recommend their work enough.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I’m a sucker for a well-crafted story and great writing, which to me means, an authentic voice. I’m drawn to character-driven work. I love when shows push the boundaries of theatrical conventions too. I’m pretty good at figuring out the plot of play before the play is over, so if I can be genuinely surprised and proved wrong about my predictions, I get excited about the work. I had that experience last summer with Alistair McDowall’s play Brilliant Adventures, which I saw at Steep Theatre in Chicago (arguably my favorite theater).

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

A:  It took me about 10 years to ever see my work made, because I never submitted it anywhere. I didn’t feel confident sharing first drafts outside of a classroom setting. In graduate school, I realized that part of being a playwright is pumping yourself and your work out into the world as much as humanly possible. That means see shows, immerse yourself in your local theater scene, write furiously, and submit your work to anyone and everyone that will read it.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  ACROSS THE PARK premieres at The American Theatre of Actors October 27-29 via The Araca Project. For more information and tickets: www.acrosstheparkplay.com

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