ONSTAGE Playwrights 2017: Meet Katherine James

Every year we interview our winning playwrights, and this year is no exception!  Join us over the coming weeks as we post more interviews with playwrights, along with information about each play’s director and cast!

Katherine James is another ONSTAGE alum (with plays in four of our six fests!) but she’s also worked with us as a Partner Producer, director, and actress!  She’s one of those super talented souls you dream of working with, so we’re kind of in awe of, and deeply in love with, this amazing human!  Katherine’s play, ZERO-SIX-TWO-EIGHT is a powerful monologue about a man suffering from PTSD.  Reading it brought tears to my eyes, and I’m very excited to be directing it for our July production.


If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

Time Travel. I would love to go backward in time and hang out with artists like Virginia Woolf and Louisa May Alcott and Gwendolyn Brooks and Jane Austen. I would love to go forward in time to figure out exactly what we have to do to fix the present so that the future isn’t a complete nightmare. There are so many things to work on and I would love to know the ones to concentrate on. I would devote ALL MY CREATIVE TIME to making art that would make a proven difference in the future.

Describe your writing space…

The room formerly known as Jordan’s (our older son’s) bedroom. I call it “The Inspiration Room”. It is filled with our theatre books and memorabilia. It also has all other creative endeavors from travel to my grandfather’s old radio. I sit on a purple velvet couch with my candles blazing on my great-grandmother’s hope chest. Fresh flowers and a clock are sitting on my grandmother’s cast iron stove. All my shows (that are at least at a first draft stage) are individually boxed in clear boxes and ready to work on or share. There is a little tv with a cable box so I can listen to music that inspires whatever show I am working on. I feel safe and free and fantastic whenever I am in there.

What is the title of your play?

Zero-Six-Two-Eight

How did this year’s ONSTAGE theme inspire you to write/share this play?

As soon as I read the title “Hot Mess” I knew I would be writing about a man I met who suffers from brain damage. His brain is, indeed, a hot mess. His terror, his struggle to remember from moment to moment, his inability to cope with the world, his need to survive and “fix” himself completely blew me away when I first met him. The play is taken from life. I personally find the idea that my brain could shake loose and I couldn’t think or create or be “me” completely terrifying.

What play (by another playwright) have you read a gazillion times, and what about that play keeps you coming back to it?

I keep returning to Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s plays keep showing up in my plays because I have played in them since I was a kid and grew up with a father who was a full time academic and part time playwright and man of the theatre. I find that so many of those plays are like in my DNA and they just keep coming out. The full length I just wrote has HAMLET as a core. Other plays that have “shown up” and demanded to be incorporated in my plays are ROMEO AND JULIET and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

Do you have any upcoming productions elsewhere that our readers should know about?

Just had my play “Muse Me” produced by Athena Cats here in Los Angeles. I wrote it for my sister who lived and died one day…but who seems to be with me all these years later. What is art? What is inspiration?

Please share a brief synopsis for a full-length of yours that our readers should know about!

FINDING COMMON GROUND is a play I am working with at the moment – rewriting it and letting it grow. Two women, one California Born Japanese-American and one White Midwestern-American, find themselves living next door to one another in 1959 in two identical tract houses. How friendship grows from what we have in common…and helps us through the crises of life that we don’t. Based on two women I knew…and the houses across the street from where I live now. As I start working through it again I fall in love with them all over again and hope I can do them justice. Since it is justice they will be seeking together side by side. I inhale, I exhale. I remind myself that, in the words of Anne Lamott, “Perfection is the Oppressor.”

Katherine’s BIO:

Katherine James (MFA from A.C.T.) has been in the theatre since her father first put her onstage in one of his shows at the age of five. An accomplished actress and director as well as playwright, she currently makes her home in Los Angeles where she is part of The Athena Cats  the Theatricum Botanicum Company and on The Seedlings (new plays) Committee. Recent projects include multiple productions of her play, THE PLAN including The GLO Project and Hall Pass. Several of her shows have been produced as part of Little Black Dress Ink. A proud member of LAFPI, her company, Free Association Theatre, has helped produce L.A.’s Swan Day.

Learn more about Katherine at katherinejamesplays.com or follow her on Twitter @katherinejames

And don’t forget to grab your tickets to the 2017 Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival: Hot Mess running July 6-8 at the First Congregational Church in Prescott, AZ.

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