Sunday, January 1, 2017

Spotlight On...Mariah MacCarthy

photo by Kacey Stamats
Name: Mariah MacCarthy

Hometown: San Diego

Education: Skidmore College

Favorite Credits: The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret (all around the country); Honors Students (Ensemble Studio Theatre)

Why theater?: Because its practitioners are uncommonly kind and delightful. Because being in the room where it happens with a live performer is an irreplaceable experience. Because I’m a masochist. Because once I realized that the full extent of my creative expression in life didn’t have to come from theater, it seemed like a much less stupid thing to do. Because if you’re willing to be creative about where and how you do it, it’s something you can just do, not wait for an opportunity to do.

Tell us about Baby Mama: It’s my story of becoming the birth mother to a little boy that was adopted by a gay couple - everything from conception to placement. That includes the adoption process, my dating and sex life while pregnant, almost getting fired from my job, the painful goodbye, the letter to my son I performed as a burlesque routine in my third trimester, and so on. Every word is true, but some names have been changed.

What inspired you to write Baby Mama?: I wanted to stop feeling invisible. At the time that I went through all this, I didn’t know anyone even close to my age who’d had this experience. I also didn’t know any New York-based single moms who were making theater. So with a total lack of role models, I had to just flail around and make my best guesses. It was wonderful to be able to make up my own rules and not have any cultural expectations holding me back, but it was also profoundly lonely. So I want people to know what this looks like, or at least what it can look like, what it looked like for me. I want people to know that this exists, that this can even be a good and beautiful thing, not a shame-swamp of regret and badness.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theatre where the cast isn’t all white. I love theatre where the rules of the universe slowly present themselves to you. I love theatre where human beings are emotionally raw and unfiltered and allow themselves to be vulnerable or ugly or desperate or wholly honest or truly kind. I love theatre that makes me ache inside. I love watching performers commit acts of intense physical labor, like shoveling dirt or dragging a body into the trash. I love just about anything made by Taylor Mac and Leah Nanako Winkler and Gina Femia and Mac Rogers and Diana Oh and Alex Borinsky and Josh Conkel and Abby Rosebrock and so, so, so many others.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Amanda Palmer. Taylor Mac. Your mom.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Adventures of Minami: The Robot from Japan Who Makes You Feel Safe When Loneliness is Palpable: Part I by Leah Nanako Winkler.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Greta Gerwig in "I Don’t Know How to Person". If Greta’s not available, just make sure it’s not a white actress who’s ever played an Asian person.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Anything Fosse. The original Angels in America. Greek tragedy at the time it was written.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Scratching my eczema.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Devoting more time to writing fiction and nonfiction, and maybe finally teaching myself the ukulele.

What’s up next?: After this NYC run of Baby Mama, I’m taking it to Cincinnati. And then I have to finish writing my Young Adult novel. And then maybe I will take a nap!

For more on Baby Mama, visit