Ten Questions for Kate McGrath!


As we move forward through the production run for FRESH FISH 2.0, we’ll be interviewing our participating playwrights. Kate McGrath is the author of PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER.

What first motivated you to write plays?

I first got started by adapting a short story I had written that had been published in a college lit mag but I wasn’t satisfied with it.  I adapted it into a one-act play while studying at the National Theatre Institute.

From where did PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER originally come?

Kate McGrath, author of PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER.

Kate McGrath, author of PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER.

Gosh—I wanted to write a play with male voices.  I had written so many short pieces for women that I felt I was stuck in that rut.  Lots of plays about babies, moms bitching at other moms, that sort of thing.  So, here is my Mamet-esque homage…

What other plays have you written, of which you’re particularly proud?

I am very proud of SEAFOOD, a full-length fantasy play with bluegrass music written by Charles Pettee.  It was produced in Chapel Hill, NC and won Best Play of NC, and was also workshopped in Boston by Theatre in Process.  It has a talking dog, long storytelling monologues, and a beachball.  I’d love to see it done again sometime.

What other theatre-related arts do you practice?

I love improvisation, acting in new play readings.  In short, if I don’t have to memorize anything, I’m your man!

Has there ever been a shooting in your neighborhood that affected you?

When I lived in West Philadelphia I experienced some close calls (I was broken into innumerable times but never shot at) and I lived in fear that the guys who broke in would come back again.  My landlord thought it would be a good idea to put some bars on the windows after that! I remember being thankful that I hadn’t been home when they entered the building—god knows what could have occurred. (Actually I wrote a piece about the experience entitled THIS IS MY PLACE which was produced at several venues, most notably The Painted Bride’s Women’s Theatre Festival, directed by…Michelle Pauls!!!)

What was your most memorable theatrical experience?

I really loved performing a piece entitled UNPACKING that I wrote for myself to perform.  I got to do it at City Theatre in Wilmington, years ago, and as part of my Performance Art grand finale thing at Villanova in grad school. It is a very personal piece, involving pecans falling out of a wedding dress, and fear of madness as a theme.  I was very masochistic as a writer of performance art, and wrote lots of things like “pounding the floor” for myself to perform.

What teachers have affected you as a writer and why?

A woman named Karyn Traut, who I studied with right out of college influenced me greatly.  She taught a course she entitled “Playwright as Sculptor” and I’ve never forgotten her approach to playwriting as a malleable hands-on art, and not an egghead’s academic exercise.

What would we find under your bed?

Dust Bunnies, my kids’ artwork, pairs of jeans I wore when I was 25…

What are you reading these days?

I keep re-reading Dave Eggers’ stuff.  I do like memoirs, they’re so self-indulgent.

If you could host a dinner party with any three people, currently living or not, who would you invite and what would you serve?

How about Sylvia Plath, Thomas Jefferson and Michelle Obama?  I’d serve my mom’s Boeuf Bourgignon, one of those jello molds (green with the shredded carrots) just so they don’t think I’m a snob, and something southern for Jefferson like corn fritters.  I’d have to keep Sylvia away from the oven, naturally. Michelle could get Jeffersoon to open up about the whole Sally Hemmings thing!  I love scandal, gravy and quivering food, not necessarily in that order.

PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER is just one of the many exciting plays that you can see in FRESH FISH 2.0, playing at Walking Fish Theatre from April 3 through 18 Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday, April 19 at 2pm. Tickets are available online or at the door, and there’s NEVER A HANDLING FEE!

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