The next installment in our Dead Man’s Dinner interview series comes from director Kathryn McConnell. In it she discusses the importance and awesomeness of our show, and raises the question: just how many uses of the word “badass” is too many?
How would you best describe your feelings about the about the play?
Dead Man’s Dinner both delights and terrifies me. It’s a little silly, beautifully human, and…a little too easy to imagine happening in our future. I love it so much.
What is your favorite part of the play and why?
W.M. Akers has a real talent for writing a kind of characters that make you love them while you’re laughing at them. With this play, he’s taken it even further: the women in this apartment are infinitely flawed, and infinitely badass. They’re ridiculous, ruthless, and still so very real.
Which character in Dead Man’s Dinner do you most relate to and why?
Oh boy…I guess I’d say Jackie. Her strength and independence coexist with what I think is a really sweet desire to love and be loved; and then she masks it all with a layer of sarcasm. I’m certainly not exactly like her, but I sure do identify with her in that way!
Who is your least favorite character and why?
All the characters have very real flaws that make me hate them sometimes. The thing is, though, that’s actually part of what makes me love them so much. The closest thing to a least favorite character that I can come up with is the aggressors responsible for the siege. They’re unnamed, because it doesn’t matter who they are – what matters is that they’ve managed, far too easily, to reduce the beautiful, vibrant city of New York into a place of fear and desolation.
What made you want to work on this play?
As a director, it doesn’t take much to convince me to work on a W.M. Akers play. Really, it just takes a script. This play especially spoke to me because of the depth he brought to the characters. Dead Man’s Dinner hits such a lovely range of emotion and pathos. People who know his work already know to expect a fun time – this play will deliver that, and so very much more.
What made you want to produce this play?
Well, for starters, everything I’ve said so far. The first thing we consider when choosing to produce anything is the story, and this is a really great one. Beyond that, though, I personally also love the way he’s represented humanity at its most basic level. There’s no room in this world for the old familiar prejudices. All three women are badasses, and that’s never called into question. Petra and Jackie are girlfriends, and the fact that they’re both women is never discussed. In fact, none of the labels we use to classify each other – gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc – are mentioned. The characters have much more important things to worry about…you know, like starvation and in-laws.
What part of the play did you struggle with the most?
One of my favorite things about working on this play is the challenges that come with it. Technical challenges, like how to light an apartment with no fuel for fire and no source of natural light, as well as those that come from diving into a truly multi-dimensional script rich with conflict and the highest possible stakes. Akers pulled no punches with this one, and I’m so lucky to have an incredible team of artists on board to help me bring it to life.
Are there any specific themes that stood out to you?
If I had to boil it down to one word, I’d say this play is about hunger. Not just hunger for food, although that’s definitely a key theme. It’s also about hunger for human connection, for purpose, and for security; and about which, when all of those needs are in play at once, will win out in the end.