Friday, July 12, 2013

Spotlight On...Catya McMullen

Name: Catya McMullen

Hometown: New York, New York

Education: UNC Chapel Hill

Favorite Credits: Missed Connection (Winner of the 37th Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival); The Collective (Triskillian Arts Center)

Why theater?: I am someone who thrives on community. It has never been sufficient to write something and hope that someone else reads it. Seeing my work on stage, when it works, is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Additionally, there’s something amazing and delicate about writing for theater, this interdependence we all have on each other. I need other people to do their craft to be able to fully experience my work. I love that my work exists as the foundational texts for other people’s art. I write and people have something to work on. And I need directors, actors and designers to see my work come to fruition. I love that we need each other. It’s beautiful. And stressful. And perfect. But really, I can’t do anything else.

Tell us about Rubber Ducks and Sunsets:
It’s the story of five people who come together after the death of this guy, Al. (But, hopefully it’s not “that play.”) It centers around his boyfriend and two best friends. It’s about the way friends can become family. It’s about people trying to emerge as adults who face the harsh realities of growing up too fast. It’s an exploration of the idea that with great light comes great darkness and to experience one is to experience the other. But it’s funny. Lots o’ jokes in this one. And also, I hope, beautiful.

What inspired you to write Rubber Ducks and Sunsets?: I’ve lost a lot of friends. Some of writing Ducks was trying to reconcile a number of questions that have emerged over the years. My experience of growing up has been cut with grief, adventure, recklessness and groups of friends who have been true family. Grief serves as a catalyst for the main three characters of this play-it’s less an examination of their need to figure out what they could’ve done to save Al, and more their facing of the fact that the lifestyle they all lead contributed to his death. A big theme in the play is what I mentioned above, this idea that with great light comes great darkness and to experience one is to experience the other. These characters, particularly Walter-the protagonist-are faced with the question of how you experience a life of joy and light etc. while still experiencing responsibility, when all you’ve known are extremes. It is very much a play about growing up. But, this play is really fun. I promise. Because I also wanted to write good jokes. And dance offs. And magic. And possibility. Additionally, I have been wanting to collaborate with my friend, Scott Klopfenstein, who composed all of the music in the play. It’s not a musical, but there is a ton of music that is so important to this play. It brings so much fun and life and poignancy to it. I never want to write a play without music (I will go back on this pretty much immediately, but this is my sentiment right now).

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
I try to write plays where you can laugh and cry in the same sitting. Plays with music. Plays that honestly display some honest experience of the human condition.

What shows have you recommended to your friends?: Most recently, Charles Ives Take Me Home at Rattlestick. Earlier this year, It was beautiful and moving and intimate and lovely. I just near lost my mind (in the good way) after I saw We Are Proud to Present… at SoHo Rep. Or pretty much everything SoHo Rep does. I loved The Whale at Playwrights Horizons. Their seasons always seem to feature some of my mid-career heroes.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Don Cheadle in “The Business of Palindromes.” Nono. Actually, it would be someone like Mae Whitman in “Stop Me Before I’m Inappropriate.”

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
Lil Jon dance breaks.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: In an insane asylum. Kidding. Maybe a social worker. I’d probably be writing fiction or non fiction. (Wouldn’t it be nice to have some sweet travel blog and see the world and have thoughts and feelings about it?) Or an astronaut. No. I’m too squirmy and high maintenance to be an astronaut. But I wish I were more into space.

What’s up next?: I am in development with a few projects. I am a member of the Middle Voice Theater Company, the apprentice company at Rattlestick Playwrights’ theater. I have a few pots cooking there and other places. I have been very lucky that it’s been pretty much non-stop for the last year and a half. So, I think a nap is next. I am, for sure, going to take a nap.

For more on Catya, vist Fore more on Rubber Ducks and Sunets, visit and

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