Kristen Kosmas Interviewed by Sibyl Kempson

Kosmas and Kempson in Kempson's POTATOES OF AUGUST. Kosmas and Kempson in Kempson's POTATOES OF AUGUST.

 

In 2011, Kristen Kosmas interviewed Sibyl Kempson for BOMB magazine. In this interview, B O D Y editor Ben Williams reunites these two friends and kindred spirits in a chance to reverse polarities and return favors. The similarities between Kosmas and Kempson go on and on: both writers hail from Mac Wellman’s playwriting program at Brooklyn College; both have presented their work at the same downtown gauntlet of PS122, Dixon Place, and the Chocolate Factory; both are accomplished performers, not only of their own work but also of their contemporaries’ work; and, as of this year, both are members of New Dramatists. To boot, Kosmas is a co-founder of the Little Theater series, where Kempson first performed her own early work in New York.

The following interview was recorded for B O D Y on Thursday, July 25, 2013.

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Sibyl Kempson: I’m really curious about the source materials for this.

Kristen Kosmas: Well, we were reading Being and Time in Mac’s inter-genre class. And it’s the main content [of this piece]. I think it informed what I was writing about. I started this play 4 years ago now, maybe, 3 or 4 years ago. Have you read Being and Time?

Kempson: No. I feel unqualified to do this interview. But you can just tell me.

Kosmas: I think not very many people have read it. It’s really difficult. It’s really really hard to read. But I can’t say anything about it except for my experience at the time, which had to do with reading the word “being” over and over and over and over again. (laughing)

So when I finally make this play, I will at some point go through the book and literally count the number of times that the word “being” occurs in the book, which has got to be in the thousands, and I might just make a monologue out of it with just that word being repeated that number of times.

Kempson: That would be like a Christopher Knowles poem because it would become just a crazy sound repetition poem.

Kosmas: Yes I think so–

Kempson: Or something else–

Kosmas: I don’t know Christopher Knowles. I don’t know what it would do, but it would do something. But who’s Christopher Knowles?

Kempson: I just learned about him recently. We all know about him but we don’t know that we know about him. He’s the one who wrote the libretto for Einstein on the Beach.

Kosmas: Oh right of course.

Kempson: And I saw him recently at the Segal Center recite some of his poems and it was wonderful. So you gotta get to know those because the “being” poem is going to be like exactly exactly that.

Kosmas: Maybe we could get him into the play to do the recitation.

Kempson: That’s totally possible.

Kosmas: So this idea of being… It’s been a long time since I’ve read the text, and this could be a total misinterpretation, but it calls into question why what anything is rather than isn’t. Like why any person, any animate or inanimate thing, the fact that it is, the fact of being, across the board, being sort of questionable. Like worth investigating. And so every single thing became sort of fascinating to me. The fact that it existed. It was both holy and kind of terrifying.

Kempson: Like why exist than not exist? It could so easily not exist, so why does it exist and how horrifying that is?

Kosmas: Yes, it’s horrifying and it’s also sort of sacred. So that’s why the words are discussing the things they’re discussing in the text that I gave you. I mean it’s obviously not a play, yet–

Kempson: Really?

Kosmas: Well I don’t have any idea how a text like that would be staged, which I’m very excited about… So that’s what it was in consideration of, being and not being. I was also quite alone at that time in my life, so everything felt even more heightened, that feeling of either fear or fragility. I was just re-reading them this morning in preparation for you and I was like oh my gosh, it’s so vivid, the feeling of when I was making them, and what is in them. So then I was reading all these Russian Absurdist poems by Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky. They had a group called Oberiu, and they made all kinds of avant-garde poetry and avant-garde writing, and, if I understand correctly, a lot of those artists used theater as a form at that time to break a whole bunch of different kinds of rules. Theater I think was really liberating to them. Most of them didn’t consider themselves theater artists, so they would put their creativity through the mechanisms of theater, for various reasons, I think, because it was ephemeral. So they couldn’t get arrested. You could make a performance and there’s no trace of it. I think. I could be inventing that also. But they used theater as a way to enact their artworks. Some of the texts in this book, they look like plays, but they’re not plays you could ever stage. They were not plays that could be staged, or it was not clear how you could stage them, or they didn’t seem intended for staging. And Matvei Yankelevich, who was one of the editors and translators of that book, at the time we were talking about them as plays for the “mental theater.” They were like scripts of things that could happen in your imagination. And so that’s what I started making in school. Also because, as you know, I’m not interested in conventional production, and when my plays are produced conventionally the plays themselves I think get ruined, and so partly I was like I’m not gonna write those kinds of plays anymore. And then with another part of me it’s a little bit of an act of defiance. Like, make this. Go ahead and stage this. Go ahead. So this whole group of texts, there are 10 of them. And there are very few human characters. There are tables and walls and clouds and shadows and things… How would you make this happen? The rest of the texts, I sent you 4 of them, are part of this bigger piece.

An Invitation For Me To Think: Selected Poems by Alexander Vvedensky (NYRB, 2013)

An Invitation For Me To Think: Selected Poems by Alexander Vvedensky (NYRB, 2013)

Kempson: I want to read them.

Kosmas: Well some of them are really, really bad.

Kempson: All the more reason that I want to read them

Kosmas: So, all of which is to say I have this collection of writing that is not intended for theatrical staging. I have done readings of them that went really well, like in poetry venues people are more receptive to that kind of language, and also to the experience of having something evoked in the imagination, other than translated into physical space. But since I worked with Peter Ksander and Paul Willis on the There There play, I got excited to make these texts into an actual performance, because I think the combination of the three of us will be able to work really well with this material, that’s not like a linear character-driven narrative at all, by any stretch of the imagination. So I think we will stage them but I still have no idea how. Will there be actors? Will it be puppets? Will there be technology? Will it be mostly speech? I just don’t know how we will translate them into the medium of theater. Which I am excited about.

Kempson: Me too. To me they seem infinitely stageable. It’s sort of like the being or not being question. They’re not unstageable, they’re infinitely stageable. Which is kind of the same problem.

Kosmas: I like it that way better. And it suits the material more to think of them as infinitely stageable.

Kempson: And I also love the idea that the stuff that you’re reading was moving into theater to set us free. We won’t be constrained by all the same rules. Whereas where I often am and I think you often are is we’re trying to get away from theater so that we can get free from the constraints. So there seem to be these nice true, contradictory relationships. Into theater for freedom, or outward from theater for freedom.

Kosmas: Well I feel that everybody I know who makes something has an idea about the freedom that another form holds that yours doesn’t.

Kempson: I was reading this book I found on the street on Terrace Place [in Brooklyn]. I think somebody died in one of those houses across from our house and there were a bunch of books they were putting out like American Machinist books, and I was like: these have to be theatrical, even just the idea of them is just so not theatrical and so extremely theatrical. I wish I had picked up all of them, but I only got one. And I just started reading it the other day, and I don’t know if it is or if it isn’t. But maybe that’s another form that we can move toward because it’s freeing.

Kosmas: What’s going on in those books?

Kempson: Well there’s all kinds of stuff that can bleed in and can be borrowed. It’s a lot of lists, a lot of requirements and measurements. If you want to do this, then these are your options. A lot of charts with different measurements, of what you need. And these are the kinds of ball bearings you can use, and these are the situations where you would use them. There was another book I saw recently about order. Like how proceedings should go.

Kosmas: Yes. That sounds good.

(both laughing)

Kempson: That’s gonna end up being really useful.

Kosmas: Definitely, in one way or another.

Kempson: “To be narrated by a tall, blonde, classical-looking and classically trained actress possessed of terrific presence whose career is going mysteriously nowhere. This actress is a cloud in pants. And boots. She tells everything. She tells nothing. Telling everything and telling nothing are similar. Maybe the same. We care and don’t care according to our … proclivities.”

So I’ve been feeling a little uninspired recently, and as soon as I read that I was instantly inspired again. I can instantly move forward to everything that I’m trying to work on and failing to work on. How long does it take to come up with just that much?

The Mayor of Baltimore and Mayhem by Kristen Kosmas (53rd State Press, 2012)

The Mayor of Baltimore and Mayhem by Kristen Kosmas (53rd State Press, 2012)

Kosmas: For me to write those sentences?

Kempson: Yeah.

Kosmas: Let’s see. 39 years?

(both laughing)

Kempson: That’s fair.

Kosmas: That’s one possible answer. The other is probably, I don’t know, 5 1/2 minutes?

Kempson: So that’s something that would have spilled out quickly as you go.

Kosmas: I think so. I mean once I get down to writing, there’s something already clear enough there for it to come out.

Kempson: Ok. I used to be like that. But I’m not now, so that’s why I’m interested in asking that question.

Kosmas: Well then there’s also the thing– I think with that series of images, I was laughing because it’s so clear to me who it is and why those aspects of that person, the narrator, are there. But other aspects of this text are so intricately and painstakingly wrought that it took me a really long time. So looking at it again, knowing that you guys are seeing it as text and that other people will look at it as text, I was like: should that dash be there? Or should that word even be there? Should those words be on the same line? Still thinking: it’s not done yet. In general with my plays it takes me about 3 to 5 years to finish a whole piece. Of imagining and thinking and being in all the material that’s relating to the piece, and then maybe a year of writing anywhere from like 25 to 60 pages of text. That will take me about a year. And then it will take me 2 or 3 years to finish it. And some of the series of sentences will stay the same from the first time I ever put them on the page, and some of them I’ll work over and over and over and over and over again. Is it like that for you?

Kempson: Well I think it’s changing. It was like that, and I might go back to the old way but I don’t know. I don’t feel like I’m the same person I was when I started writing, and so I can’t write in the same way. And also my life isn’t the same life, so I don’t have the same luxuries of time and attention that I used to, and I don’t know what that’s really gonna mean. I’m now fighting to rearrange everything radically so that I can have that again. What I’m hearing you saying is that thing that we’ve talked about before, is you’re just spending time with the piece, you’re sitting with it. And correct me if I’m wrong but the thing that’s causing you to make those changes is that you’re able to spend time with it and look at it again and again over time, and to realize what’s right, and it is very finely wrought because you’re going in at the level of words and dashes and clauses. I’m seeing a lot of clause-work in this piece.

(both laughing)

That’s the currency of it. That’s the currency that you’re dealing with. It’s the clause.

Kosmas: That makes sense actually… Writing has also changed for me a lot. The deeper my interest and investigation into language itself — the deeper that gets, the longer I feel I need, and the deeper that gets the more different kinds of expression of my writing are available to me. Like I read these pieces, that you have, at the Kitchen, so that was a performance, just me, just saying the words. And I spent 2 1/2 days editing it just for that. So it was like ok how do these words function in this exchange. And now that I know that you have them, and that people are going to be reading them to themselves, then it’s a whole other question. How do they function in that exchange. And I think Paul and Peter and I are going to make them into a performance, and with that, what’ll we have to do to do that? So that’s another part of why it takes so long, to get things rewritten. I feel like I have to write them differently for every single expression.

Kempson: And then at some point do you think that it fills in, as the thing that you can, say, have published by 53rd State, or where it’s the text of the whole thing, and it contains everything of all of those venues in context?

Kosmas: Like all the traces. I think that probably after I’ve made it into a performance, then however I document the performance, like I’m doing right now for There There for 53rd State to publish, how do we document what happened on the stage. Then that for me is the final thing, because for me, I think of myself as a theater artist, so it all is toward some kind of performance or engagement that way.

Kristen Kosmos working on There There with director Paul Willis

Kristen Kosmas working on There There with director Paul Willis

Kempson: So do you feel like you’re finished with There There, for example?

Kosmas: Yeah. I’m not finished performing it, but I’m finished writing it.

Kempson: It’s complete and it could go anywhere as the text that it is, and that’s not gonna change it?

Kosmas: I don’t think so. It’s like Wally Shawn. He republished some of his earliest plays recently, things that were written in the 70s, I think, and he was saying he still rewrites them, if it goes up again or into print again, he’s just always making changes. So I feel like they’re never done. You know. They’re just as done as they can be at that moment.

Kempson: You know it’s funny, so much of this feels like it’s spontaneous, but at the level of the clause. It’s very you thinking of something, almost capriciously, in a way. Like you’re in there working working working for years and years, and then a little breeze comes through and oh! we’re still in this present moment. Is that something that happens and then you learn to preserve it? Or do you allow little changes to happen as you’re going?

Kosmas: Can you give me an example?

Kempson: “Everywhere and nowhere, something is happening. Fingers are swelling and turning blue squeezed tight by platinum rings that are too small for them. As an example.”

Kosmas: (laughing) And that’s a stage direction right? So somehow that has to be communicated, the audience has to understand that other things are happening elsewhere. They have to be reminded that people’s wedding rings are getting too tight, for example, but there’s no text or anything.

Kempson: It’s such an attack on our acting, isn’t it?

(both laughing)

Kosmas: Yeah.

Kempson: I love the classical looking and classically trained actress. I was like ohh (finger wagging) I know what you’re doing. I think for me also a very striking thing is how you’re really taking that on. You’re taking on, once again, the way that we’ve been trained to perform, and how can we change that. How can we adjust that to fit with the stuff that we’re writing.

Kosmas: Well especially with the classically trained actress part, it wasn’t so conscious in my mind as a taking it on. But I think there’s something in the world of these texts, like, things are failing. Things are broken or failing or not really doing the thing that they’re supposed to be doing. And I thought it would be amazing if a classically trained actress does this play, because she’ll be really good in it, in this play. That training will come to bear in such a special and peculiar way in this play that it will be wonderful and sad and funny. A lot of the Russian writing from that period I described has those qualities, for me. Somehow it’s really poignant and clowny. It’s very complex, my emotional response to it, finding it kind of hilarious and terrifying and touching and heartbreaking and all these things. But the other thing you’re saying, about it being clause-driven, I’ve been thinking about this recently, this might be true for me ever since I’ve been writing as a serious task, which was when I was little, I realized. I used to be a crazily avid journal and letter writer when I was in grade school all the way through high school, when I never thought I would be a writer but I always wrote fairly seriously and used it as a way to sort of contemplate my world and my existence, and I feel I have this profound spiritual insecurity. I’m not sure how I feel about that language, but it’s like this feeling of being uncertain. Uncertainty. Like I don’t know.

Kempson: Like nothing’s for sure.

Kosmas: Right, like there seems to be a table here. That’s all I can say.

Kempson: And everyone’s behaving as if there’s a table here, and that it’s totally there, and that it’s a given. But how could it be?

Kosmas: Right. So I think there’s something about that — that kind of “it is and it isn’t” — that’s in my writing that’s also in the Russian Absurdists that’s really deep and really heavy in there. They’re always like “he was there, but he kind of wasn’t there.” And I think that’s why I’m drawn to their writing because I relate to that somehow. I don’t know what it is. But yeah, profound uncertainty. And the idea that anything could be anything at any given moment or could also go in any direction is one thing. And another thing that is reflected in the way I write, that is just in the way I see, is just this macro to micro focusing. I’ll get this big picture and then go to a little picture and then a big picture and a little picture, and so I just describe as much as I possibly can of the whole scene. And my attention will just go: oh there’s a comb! A knife! Also there’s a knife! Don’t forget! It’s just something about the way my attention works, and it seems like we have that in common sometimes. And I don’t know if that’s by necessity, if that seeing so much gets to be too much and you have to kind of close down, narrow the vision, so it’s not as much going on, or what.

Kempson: What I observe is that when you are doing that, then things that you are focusing on in very small, tight focus, become enormously significant. Especially because you’ve kind of put this backdrop behind them of this great infinite space. I’m trying to think who wrote it “tell me your concept of the infinite and I’ll tell you what kind of poet you are.” I think it’s Gaston Bachelard, maybe, where it’s all about what is your concept of the infinite. And until you define that then no one’s gonna know what kind of poet you are.

Kosmas: That’s amazing. Yes.

Kempson: This piece for me is like: ok now I totally know what kind of poet Kristen Kosmas is.

Kosmas: Well what kind am I?

Kempson: I don’t know if I can put into words. Sadly. I mean I know that I can but it’s gonna take me some time.

Kosmas: That’s ok. I think you’re onto something. I might feel a little bit like that every time I’m making something. Like this ultimately is a description of my concept of the infinite. But I wrote these pieces for class, and I haven’t referred back to them until very recently. But I think I’m afraid of them, in a way, because I do think that is, maybe more directly than anything else I’ve ever made, what they’re addressing. I find it terrifying.

Kempson: They’re very personal in that way. Because it’s your worldview. It’s almost like what is your religion. You’re writing a play about your religion.

Kosmas: Yes exactly. It’s terrifying. And my religion or my whatever concept of the infinite has usually been threaded through my plays, some of them more subtly than others, some more explicitly. But it’s the whole fabric of this one. And also because it’s something that I’ve never put into words myself. So I have a feeling for that, sometimes I’m closer to it, sometimes further away, but I feel scared to know it, to stare it in the face.

Kempson: I don’t think we’re supposed to, right?

(both laughing)

That’s why it’s the infinite! You’re not supposed to be able to just sum it up: oh gimme a minute I’m gonna give you a thumbnail sketch right here. And if someone is like “let me tell you” then don’t trust them!

Kosmas: I don’t know if it’s my age but recently I’ve been very envious of people who “know.” Or seem to know. Who think that they know.

Kempson: I don’t trust it. It’s oversimplification. Those magazines, the Jehovah’s Witness magazines. It’s like here are the answers. Here is the truth. And there’s just no way that it’s that simple.

Kosmas: No. Clearly. Clearly. But– !

Kempson: But it must be nice.

Kosmas: Well when you’re having that experience of profound uncertainty, it’s sort of like — anything! Somebody gimme a magazine about anything! I’ll believe it!

Kempson: That’s true, too. Yeah. That’s why it’s good to live in a city. I’ve been spending a few weeks now out here in Pennsylvania, and I can see how you become so narrow so quickly, because there’s just less to draw from. Unless you’re really disciplined about getting in touch with nature, or whatever you’re studying. You have to do it yourself. It’s not done for you. I mean I love it because I have space and air but I can really see how closed off that I can quickly, quickly get. The smaller events that become the most important thing. And then I’ll tell people about it, and then I’m like, wait, it doesn’t even matter at all. It doesn’t matter at all that a guy next door was setting off fireworks at 5 o’clock in the morning. At the time it was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me. But then I started talking to people today and I was like oh that’s nothing actually. But that said, there’s a nice relationship, a nice flux between those two kinds of awareness in this piece. And I’m wondering, you said you were spending a lot of time alone when you were writing this. That you were able to have that kind of discipline of alright I’m going to go into it. Didn’t you write a play that said “I’m really successful at solitude” — was that you that wrote that?

Kosmas: Sounds like it could be me.

Kempson: Like listen, lemme tell you something. I’m really good at solitude. I’m not even gonna really do it, because I know that I’d be too good at it… But you are. You’re the best at it, that I know.

(both laughing)

Kosmas: And getting better all the time!

Kempson: But you have the discipline to be constantly examining and constantly responding and constantly having fresh impressions, even though your world is very expansive. You can be by yourself and have a lot to stimulate you. It’s a good way to be, when you’re a writer. Or writing is a good thing to do when–

Kosmas: When that’s your inclination. I hope so. Well, that’s what I’m doin!

Kempson: You’re doin great.

                “Outside the windows 
                which are not there
                there is no  
                snow 
                falling, no 
                material substance 
                which might be mistaken for snow.
                No wads of cotton, no torn up bits of paper, 
                no petals of flowers collected from gutters and brought here in large
                garbage bags— "

So striking and beautiful and completely disarming, is that this isn’t what’s happening. But then of course it does happen. Of course it does. I feel that this is a real contemplation of beauty, the reward of paying attention. And that image of someone going out and collecting snow and flower petals in a garbage bag, of course it’s not necessary, but how beautiful would that be if they did that?

Kosmas: Well we don’t need to have fake snow in the theater anymore. We don’t need to have fake windows in the set. And this question about what does language do if I say there aren’t these things, and they’re actually not here, but then they are in your imagination… maybe if you have that kind of imagination. Like does it evoke the thing itself, in some image of beauty, or is it just the words themselves. Is the image even beautiful? If somebody says to you “there are no windows,” and you’re in a room that has no windows in it, what does it look like?

Kempson:And then when they do show up later, they’re probably not going to look like what I had in mind. Am I going to be disappointed or delighted? It’s really forcing me to examine my own imagination: how is my imagination doing?

Kosmas: Which is what I feel my main interest right now in theater is. How can it be a space where people’s imaginations can be reactivated. Because we’re so overstimulated all the time. So my writing is geared toward that in some degree for sure. But it is funny like I have gone out with garbage bags in my 20s when all the beautiful flowering trees that drop those little petals — it happens in New York all the time and it also happens in Seattle — those tiny little petals and they turn like a golden color, and the whole gutters are full of them, and I’m like this is perfect stage snow! Every play would be just incredibly beautiful if this stuff would just flutter down. But then in the last 10 years I get so angry when I go to see plays and beyond the window there’s something making it fake rain, or when actors come in with fake snow on their clothes. I just hate it! It drives me nuts. And so this text is like there’s no windows, no fake snow, no one’s pretending that they’re coming in from outside when they’re just right over there.

Kempson:It schools us in ways that beauty is still possible, the creation of beauty. It’s obsessive and disconcerting because of the unnecessary effort to do that. Like you don’t have to live your life this way! There is another way! You could be doing really beautiful things just for the sake of doing them, because they’re beautiful to do. And it gives me a sense that that is my responsibility, to do something that is meaningful only because of its relationship with beauty.

“To the left, a wall. Beyond the wall, a street somewhere. A neighborhood. If it is dark outside, …”

That’s some clause-work. Boom. It’s so efficient. There’s so much efficiency of image and placement and landscape. And I wonder if that’s just part of spending a lot of time with it, or if it’s just that you spent a lot of time with it in your head so that by the time you’re writing it you can just bang it out and there it is, and it’s complete.

Kosmas: That’s a great question. (long pause) You know I read pretty great writers. At least these writers are anyway. Sometimes I like to read garbage. Last night I was looking for something to read and I found some Louis L’Amour! The Man From Skibbereen.

Kempson:That’s a great beach read!

(Kosmas reads a section)

Kempson:That’s pretty great. I don’t know if I could write that.

Kosmas: But if I read that and then wrote this play, it would sound something like that. You pick up something of it. I mean, Heidegger, he’s dense, but he’s no dummy. And Kharms and Vvedensky, and I’m reading something by Shklovsky right now–

Kempson: Oh! What?

Kosmas: It’s called A Hunt for Optimism.

Kempson: I’m reading that, too!

Kosmas: You are?

Kempson: Yes. I’ve been reading it for a while. I keep putting it down and picking it back up. It’s amazing.

Kosmas: Why are you reading it?

Kempson: I’m in love with him. I’m madly in love with him. The more I read the more deeply in love with him I become. I’ve been working my way through as much of his stuff as I can.

Kosmas: I love him too. I came across it accidentally and had just been recently thinking about these texts and I thought oh my god, this is the affirmation for those texts for sure. And for all those writers it can’t just be the translation because there’s this sentence by sentence economy, but then there’s this almost decadence in the point of view. Or the number of things that the sentences regard. And I think that’s part of my inclination also, because I’m also kind of dumb. Any one thought is kind of stupid. But I have such a number of them, that they become very convoluted.

Kempson: Which can be disguised for some sort of special awareness.

(both laughing)

Kempson: I have the same thing. And that you’re bothering to write it down.

Kosmas: Well it’s the only way to unburden oneself of it.

(both laugh and laugh)

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Click here to read new work by KRISTEN KOSMAS serialized in B O D Y.

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KRISTEN KOSMAS is an American playwright and performer. She has had new works commissioned by The Chocolate Factory (NYC), Performance Space 122 (NYC), The Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf (NYC), Seattle University’s SITE Specific, Dixon Place (NYC), and the New City Theater in Seattle. Her plays (see links below) and solo performances have been presented in Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Austin, and many downtown venues in New York City. She is the writer/performer of four critically acclaimed solo shows: Blah Blah Fuckin Blah, Again, Slip, and The Scandal! As an actor, she has appeared in many notable new plays including Potatoes of August by Sibyl Kempson, Mark Smith by Kate Ryan, ASTRS and Some Things Cease To Be While Others Still Are by Karinne Keithley, The Internationalist by Anne Washburn, Producers of Fiction by Jim Strahs, The Florida Project by Tory Vazquez, and Hurricane by Erin Cressida Wilson. Ms. Kosmas is a founding member of the OBIE Award winning performance series Little Theater; the Brooklyn-based experimental writer’s collective The Ladies’ Auxiliary Playwriting Team/Machiqq; and The Twenty-Five Cent Opera of San Francisco, a monthly event for the enactment of texts and theatricals. She holds a BFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College. She is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Whitman College and a member of New Dramatists in NYC.

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About the Interviewer:

 
SIBYL KEMPSON lives and makes theater plays in NYC and the Pocono Mountains. Her plays have been presented at Dixon Place, Soho Rep, Performance Space 122, The Chocolate Factory, New York Live Arts, the Fusebox Festival in Austin, TX, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, the Great Plains Theater Conference in Omaha, and Theater Bonn in Germany, and have been developed in workshops in the CATCH! Performance Series, Little Theater, and at New Dramatists. She is a 2010 MacDowell Colony Fellow, a member of New Dramatists class of ‘17, a 2013 McKnight National Resident and Commissionee, and a four-time recipient of Dixon Place’s Mondo Cane! Commission (2002, ’07, ’09, ’11). She is a founding member of the Joyce Cho Initiative, an affinity of playwrights dedicated to the staging of problem plays, and of Machiqq Women’s Auxiliary playwriting group. She earned an MFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College, 2007, where she studied under the instigation of Mac Wellman. Her plays are published by the 53rd State Press (Crime or Emergency, in Joyce Cho Plays, Zeit af der KürbisGeistNachten, and a new double volume with Ich KürbisGeist & The Secret Death of Puppets); PLAY Journal of Plays (Potatoes of August); and PAJ (Restless Eye, a collaboration with David Neumann and Advanced Beginner Group).

Current, recent, and upcoming projects include: Big Dance Theater’s production of her play Ich KürbisGeist at New York Live Arts this Hallowe’en 2013; a commission for a new work in collaboration with Elevator Repair Service called Fondly, Collette Richland to premiere in NYC in 2015; a New Dramatists/Full Stage USA commission for a new work in collaboration with Austin, TX groups Rude Mechs, Salvage Vanguard, Physical Plant, and Rubber Rep, called River of Gruel, Pile of Pigs: The Requisite Gestures of Narrow Approach to premiere at the Fusebox Festival in 2014; The Securely Conferred, Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Mary S., for the McKnight National Residency and Commission; and a commission from the Playwrights’ Division of New York City Players to premiere at Abrons Arts Center in 2014.

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Read more work by Kristen Kosmas:

Buy Hello Failure from Ugly Duckling Presse.
Buy This From Cloudland from PLAY A Journal of Plays
Buy Anthem and The Mayor of Baltimore from 53rd State Press.
A rave review of There There in The New York Times

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