Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spotlight On...Natalie Zutter

Name: Natalie Zutter

Hometown: San Rafael, CA

Education: BA, NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study (concentration: Serialized Storytelling and Internet Culture)

Favorite Credits: It will always amuse me that I've been involved in two shows about sex robots--one that I wrote, and one that I starred in.

Why theater?: Weirdly enough, I went into NYU thinking I would be a novelist and TV writer; I came out as a playwright and comic book writer. It was when staging my then-boyfriend's robot love story play sophomore year that I realized how gratifying it is to write something and immediately throw it onto a stage. That immediacy--plus, something that attracts me to comics, the fact that the script can't exist on its own and needs collaborators--was what made me fall in love with theater.

Tell us about RETCONtroversy: RETCONtroversy is a between-the-panels play about a semi-retired superhero confronting multiple versions of herself. Nora Echolls used to be the girl-wonder superhero Stinger, who would hop rooftops and take down baddies. After an accident leaves her paralyzed, Nora grows up into Eleanor and has to recreate her identity as Echo, a hacker controlling the superhero action in her secret HQ. Until the day she finds out that she's being erased from history and replaced with a younger version of Stinger/Nora. Now, Echo has to keep the canon from changing. Unfortunately, the smartest thing she came up with was to kidnap Stinger.

What inspired you to write RETCONtroversy?: While brainstorming an appropriate comics-themed play, I was at first discouraged looking at all of the first CBTF's plays, because I felt like they'd hit all the major points (especially the meta ones) of comics. Then I realized that no one had touched upon retconning--which is a practice that's not only so unanimously hated by readers/fans, but also totally unique to comics. There are a handful of retcons that are particularly egregious, so I drew from a number of them in coming up with RETCONtroversy's plot.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater that challenges the limits of physical space and subverts narrative expectations is what most draws me in. Like how Gideon Productions' The Honeycomb Trilogy stages a generation-spanning sci-fi epic about giant alien bugs in a suburban home, and only ever shows us the aliens' legs. Or the fact that Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation is about acting games--something so niche yet simultaneously so universal. Chiara Atik's Women (a Little Women/"Girls" mash-up) surprised me on six different levels in the course of 45 minutes. Even take the current Broadway run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch: The show takes place on the abandoned set of Hurt Locker: The Musical. That's so random and there's no reason they had to do that, but it's a wonderful, quirky layer that no one else thought to add.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
I've got creative crushes on a number of Gideon Productions folks: Jordana Williams, Daryl Lathon, Hanna Cheek, and Sean Williams. Really, just doing anything with Gideon would buoy my little nerdy heart. And don't get me started on the playwrights I'd kill to work with (again or for the first time): Mariah MacCarthy, Mac Rogers, Monica Byrne, Chiara Atik...

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The show that I've found the most excuses to tell friends about (and even rope a few into seeing) is Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the New York Neo-Futurists' weekly show. It's both easy and tough to describe: 30 plays in 60 minutes, no fourth wall, you play yourselves. I've been going since 2007; this show has made me laugh, cry, get turned on, and go "huh?" all in the space of mere minutes. It's the best way to spend your Friday or Saturday night in the city.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Jeez, I hate this question because I truly can't find a good celebrity doppelgänger. The closest I've gotten is Keri Russell (with her hair at her curliest); the title would be "Keeping a Straight Face".

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
A hot bath. That feeling, when you first sink into the water... Also, awful pop music. If I can combine the two, I'm set.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:
I'm a huge fan of mash-ups, so I've got to point to a gem I stumbled across on YouTube: This mash-up of MGMT, Passion Pit, Daft Punk, and more. It's so infectiously upbeat and makes great music for dancing, cooking, writing, you name it.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Manning a stall at Smorgasburg, or rolling around town in a food truck.

What’s up next?: No other festivals at the moment, so I'm devoting my free time to getting two full-length plays out of brainstorming mode and into workable first drafts: one about the awkwardness of pre-social media Internet fandom; the other exploring the notion of the "girl crush" and female attraction/rivalry.

For more on Natalie, visit and For more on RETCONtroversy, visit