Kathleen Coudle-King

Author of Hole Story [Quickies 12, June 2011]

Kathleen Coudle-King has been writing plays since Billi Bernstein, her 10th grade drama teacher, made that assignment.  All thoughts of studying anything but theatre went right out her head after that.  Kathy went on to earn a BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU, after which she moved to the epicenter of playwrighting — North Dakota.  Okay, well, not exactly the hub, but there are a few playwrights living in North Dakota and there actually are many opportunities.  Over the years she has written more than 50 plays, earning 6 commissions from various groups, including women’s shelters/services, mental health providers, and breast-feeding coalitions.  Her work has been produced in about half the states, and the Live Girls! production makes it her first time in Washington.  Kathy was awarded a Bush Foundation Dakota Creative Connections grant in 2009 in order to expand a one-act about the demise of small towns in North Dakota.  That project has “snowballed” into a full-length play integrating video, as well as a full-on documentary (in progress) for which she recently received a ND Council on the Arts Fellowship and a UND Arts and Science grant to produce Off the Map in four locations in ND.  In September she will attend the production of her play Companeras, winner of the Larry Corse Int’l Playwriting Award, at Columbus State in Georgia, as well as premiere her newest play, Triangle, about the intersection of class in the fight for labor rights in the U.S. in the early 20th century.  Titles of here work are available for perusal at www.dakotalit.com.  If ever in ND, please stop by for a coffee.

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Where did the idea for The Hole Story come from?
A newspaper article about a woman who build an ice house in Minnesota when she was in her 50s.

What is your favorite moment in the play?
When they have that beat at the end when they contemplate what their mom had to put up with their dad.

Who is your current playwright talent crush?
I have to say, right now, Tracy Letts.  Just finished reading Superior Donuts and love how it all came together.

What advice would you give to aspiring playwrights?
Don’t do it b/c you think you will get rich and famous!  Do it because you can’t not do it without feeling like a part of you is dead.

What kind of theater do you love?
I love theatre that feels like it can’t be done anywhere else but IN a theatre.  Not something I could have watched on a big or little screen, but something that uses the intimacy of live theatre to create a world in which I spend a couple hours.

What are you currently working on?
For the first time in 20-some years, I have 3 projects going on — usually I just focus on one at a time, but so far it seems to be working.  I have a commission to create a piece about the Triangle Waistcoat Factory Fire, and since I wanted to write about the role Frances Perkins played in labor changes, this was a perfect fit.  The other piece is a play that will be my first venture into combining technology and theatre:  Off the Map.  I should finish research on small towns in North Dakota, along with video this summer.  Finally, a piece that I’d been noodling as a novel showed up as a play one morning, Vacancy. It’s my first mystery.

Outside of theater, what are you really into right now?
I teach writing at the U. of ND, other than that and family, my life is pretty immersed in theatre.

Do you have a favorite and least favorite word?
interesting — least favorite; wonder-filled — most favorite

Is there a question you would like to see posed to playwrights featured in future spotlights?
How do you keep going?

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