Kate Moira Ryan's new comedy combines food and an eclectic cast of gay, lesbian and differently abled characters at a typical dinner party in Gotham.
"Bass For Picasso"
Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street
April 17 - May 23 (Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm; and Sundays at 3pm)
Tickets: $41.25. Reservations 212-279-4200 or ticketcentral.com
In Kate Moira Ryan's new play "Bass for Picasso" a food writer for the NY Times is recreating the recipes of Alice B Toklas for story, and invites over some of her friends for dinner. Comedy ensues. We spoke to Kate about writing for differently abled people, and what it's like working with actresses who threaten to 'take their leg off and chase the other characters around the room with it'.
"I love writing comedy. I love making an audience laugh" - Playwright, Kate Moira Ryan. Photo by Dixie Sheridan
Q. Tell me how you came to write this play.
A. I wanted to write a play about a typical dinner party in NYC. Of course, since I'm a lesbian and have a child, I made all my characters gay or lesbian and put crazy kids in.
Q. What kinds of responsibilities did you feel when it came to representing both disabled people, and gay and lesbian people?
A. I grew up with a differently abled mother so it's all normal to me. I wanted to portray the amputee in the play as a person; not always a likable person, but a regular human being. But I'm not writing "The Miracle Worker" here. And as a gay person, I'm incredibly irreverent - so if you're expecting some nice evening of gay acceptance, head to Broadway!
Q. How does "Bass for Picasso" break new ground artistically?
A. It actually gets me back closer to my roots as a playwright. As non-traditional as this play is, it's got a traditional structure - it takes place during a dinner and it's farce. I love to write comedy. At the end of the day, I'm an entertainer.
Q. What sort of other pop culture works is "Bass for Picasso" in the vein of?
A. I am very eclectic. Right now I'm reading, Chelsea Handler's new book, "Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang" and "Cleaving" by Julie Powell. Travel inspires me. I have a passion for Russia and Russian theater. My latest project was an adaptation of a post-Soviet woman writer named Olga Mukhina. Reality TV inspires me.
Q: What or who is inspiring you right now?
A. Seeing the world through my son's eyes. He's ten. It doesn't matter what I do or what I achieve, all he wants is what's on page 12 of the Lego catalog.
Q. What's it like working with a company that supports differently abled performers, Theater Breaking Through Barriers?
A. I'm having a blast. It's no different than working with any other company. Although, when my actress asks if she can take her leg off and chase the other character around the room with it, then it is a little different. Last Friday we had a discussion about what's the softest part of Anita's prosthetic leg so when she hits Felice on the head, she won't knock her out. Everyone held up the leg and got banged with it. It was kind of like the play -- a little surreal, a little crazy, but very, very fun.
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