Tuesday, February 19, 2013

FRIGID New York Interview - Kathleen Warnock of "That's Her Way"

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Amy C. Dreher

Danielle Quisenberry and
J.Stephen Brantley
Name: Kathleen Warnock        

Kathleen Warnock is a NYC-based playwright and editor. Her full-length play, Outlook was presented by Emerging Artists Theater at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in May 2012. Other plays include Rock the Line, produced by EAT (winner, Robert Chesley Award, published by United Stages), Some Are People (EAT in NY and in Dublin), which won the Arts & Letters Award; Grieving for Genevieve (MITF, winner John Golden Award); and many other short plays in New York, London, and regionally. She is Playwrights Company Manager for Emerging Artists Theater, curates the Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwrights Project for TOSOS, and hosts the reading series “Drunken!Careening! Writers! at KGB the third Thursday of every month (since 2004). Sheis series editor of Best Lesbian Erotica (Cleis). She is a member of The Dramatists Guild. By day, she is Googly. www.kathleenwarnock.com @kwarnockny.

What’s your show about?

It’s about an impossible dilemma: What happens when two people are meant for each other, and they can’t be together. Some people can let it go…some can’t. This play takes place in the past, when the relationship begins in high school, as well as the present, when the adults find that despite all the time that’s passed, there’s still something between them. But what to do about it?

What inspired you to write it?

A couple of years ago, I was thinking about high school. (No, we never leave it behind.) I was getting ready to head to my class reunion, some several hundred miles south. I am definitely a Yankee, but lived long enough in the South to have an appreciation for its qualities and beauty. But I wasn’t meant to live there my whole life, and have been happily ensconced in NYC for many years. I’d recently lost a good friend and mentor in the Palmetto State, and he was one of the most decent guys I ever met. I didn’t realize it until after I wrote the play, but the character of Stuckey, the male lead, is a kind of tribute to him, a memory of a true Southern gentleman, who is the best of that breed. The female lead isn’t really a take on me: for one thing, she’s straight; for another, she’s a brilliant scientist, but one thing I think a lot of artists can identify with is what she had to go through as an outsider who knows she’s not like everyone else, and whose difference is thought of as something that makes her weird, less valuable – and someone who has to leave the people she grew up with behind.

I originally wrote a 10-minute play, called Staying Put, which we did at the EATfest with Desmond Dutcher and Laura Fois, directed by Vivian Meisner. It was while we were doing that version that I realized there was a longer work that I really wanted to write. I expanded it into six scenes, in the present and past, that mirror the arc of their relationship.

Who else is involved with the show?

My cast is the amazing Danielle Quisenberry as Ferro. She was also in my full-length Outlook, that we took to the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival last May, and she came home with the Best Actress award. J.Stephen Brantley is a playwright I’ve long admired, and he’s a hell of an actor. I really wanted him for this part because he is also a Southern boy who came to the big city, but knows what it’s like to live in a place where a guy like Stuckey could live a good, comfortable life. Vivian Meisner directed the original short play, and I was very happy that she wanted to help it grow into a full one-act.

Who is your dream audience for this show?

People who are sobbing into their laps at the end.

Who are your biggest influences?

In both life and writing, Tina Howe and Doric Wilson. Other writers who’ve made a difference to me are Clifford Odets, Flannery O’Connor, Frank O’Hara; in the theater, I spent a lot of time early in my career working with Sabra Jones, and studying with John Strasberg. And of course, my wife Donna is the source of all good things.

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

Definitely Amy Witting’s stuff. She’s someone I’ve been watching in the MFA program at Hunter College, and she’s got an amazing voice. So she’s at the top of the list, and I’m carefully combing the program for other gems.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Well, it looks like we are taking That’s Her Way to the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival (yes, you’re breaking this story). And I’ve got a production of my full-length, Grieving for Genevieve in the “Lucky 13” season of Venus Theatre in Maryland in June. And, I’m still looking for Outlook to make it to Off-Broadway, sooner rather than later. And, I continue to host my reading series, Drunken! Careening! Writers! at KGB Bar the third Thursday of every month, I edit Best Lesbian Erotica for Cleis, and I work for Google. I’m tired.

Lightning round

Paper or plastic? Both are fantastic (thank you, Tawny Heatherton!)

Comedy or drama? Drama with laughter (nervous laughter counts)

Beach or mountains? BEACH!

Black box or proscenium? Whichever one’s doing my play.

Glee or Smash? Ivy 4Ever!

Cats or dogs? Dragons.

Musical or straight play? How can I choose between Paradise Lost and Hedwig & the Angry Inch?

That's Her Way plays at The Red Room on the following dates:

Feb 22, 6:05PM
Feb 24, 6:20PM
Feb 27, 7:35PM
Mar 01, 6:05PM
Mar 03, 12:00PM

No comments: