Playwright Mulley ’05 to debut new play locally

by Rebecca Asoulin | 1/12/14 6:21pm

Kate Mulley ’05 is a playwright and co-founder of Vox Theater, a group of Dartmouth alumni involved in theater. Mulley’s original play “The Reluctant Lesbian” will be staged Saturday afternoon as part of the Northern Stage’s “New Works Now” professional play reading festival in White River Junction.

When did you first become involved in theater?

KM: I took my first playwriting class as a senior in high school. I had been an actor before that, but I realized if I wasn’t good in high school, I probably wasn’t going to make it.

I took my first theater class at Dartmouth freshman year, Theater 18: Modern Drama, which was taught by visiting theater professor Annabelle Winograd. I remember coming home from class one day and thinking, “I can study this? This is a legitimate thing to study? This is amazing.”

How were you involved in theater at Dartmouth? And have you been back since?

KM: I did a WiRED production my senior year, and I did a reading of a play that I wrote as an independent study my senior year. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve had two plays performed in the Bentley Theater. “The Reluctant Lesbian” was read at a workshop two years ago, and last summer, “Strange Bare Facts,” was featured in Vox Fest.

Can you describe how you write?

KM: I don’t have a specific process, I tend to tailor it to the work. Usually I’ll have either a character that I’m really interested in, or a specific concept or situation. Once I start, I write quickly. I tend to be more of a dialogue-heavy writer. I also like workshopping early, so I can see the characters on their feet.

What inspired your new play?

KM: I came up with the title first, and then I had to go back from that. I had just moved back to the U.S. from London, and I was reading a lot about American women living in London, particularly in the 1960s. I started writing a play in that time period.

Why do you think this play may be relevant to Dartmouth students?

KM: When I graduated from Dartmouth, I had a very good idea of who I was, but I didn’t really know what to do about that. That’s something I think this character, Sophia, goes through in the play.

Can you talk about an inspirational experience at Dartmouth?

KM: For our final project in Winograd’s class, we had to pitch a play. We had just read “Ubu Roi” by Alfred Jarry. I remember talking to [Winograd], and I said that my high school would never be able to produce that play. That got me thinking a lot about the value of theater as an educational experience, which made me want to study theater as a major. I also think doing the WiRED play was really gratifying because it was the first time I got to see my own work on stage, to see actors in it and to see an audience enjoy it. Finally, my senior year, playwright Wendy Wasserstein was a resident, and she came to a reading of my independent study play. She told me that I was good enough to be a playwright, which was something I needed to hear at that time.

Why do you write?

KM: I’m naturally interested in other people and want to share that with the audience. Live theater is also incredibly important to me. I think that it’s unique, because you are experiencing someone else’s view of the world, someone else’s humanity.

This interview has been edited and condensed.