OUTStages Festival at Intrepid Theatre. An interview with playwright Kathryn Taddei (The Bad Touch)

OUTStages Festival at Intrepid Theatre. An interview with playwright Kathryn Taddei (The Bad Touch).

As part of Intrepid Theatre’s OUTStages Festival, there will be a reading Tuesday July 7th of Kathryn Taddei’s play The Bad Touch. I had a chance to connect with Kat for a Q & A.

The Bad Touch Satco January 2015

You first workshopped The Bad Touch at the Student Alternative Theatre Company (SATCo) at UVic in January 2015. What was the impetus for this work? Is there a particular reason you decided to make your two couples homosexual?

There was no particular reason that I decided to make the two couples in The Bad Touch homosexual; in fact, I didn’t really think about it at all until I started to consider who the characters were as individuals and how they identified themselves. I didn’t sit down to write and think, “I’m going to write about two gay couples and what it’s like to have a gay one night stand.” I just sat down and started writing four very different characters, and it just so happened that one couple was made up of two women, and the other of two men.

For me, writing The Bad Touch was really an exercise in empathy, and seeing whether these two couples, composed of such dramatically different individuals, could connect to one another. Of course, on a subconscious level, there was a lot going on in my life at the time in regards to discovering my own identity and deciding whether or not I wanted to label myself or come out or all of those things, so that probably had an influence, conscious or not, on the decision to frame the show around two queer rather than hetero-normative relationships.

You state, in your media material for that show “The show isn’t raunchy, but we definitely do want to push people out of their comfort zones,”. Can you comment on what, specifically, you think will push people out of their comfort zones?

The show is very honest about what sex can be like, and I think that’s something of a shock in our modern world, where sex is so frequently represented one way. Of course, this is still a staged representation of two sexual encounters, so it’s exaggerated, but when we staged the show at SATCo in January, we really tried to keep it as real as possible in terms of how these four characters behave, and so it’s that honesty that I hope does push people out of their comfort zones, because honesty triggers empathy; it’s so uncomfortable to watch someone else mess up! And these characters do mess up in their sexual endeavors, repeatedly; either the sex is good for one character, but not another, or one feels inexperienced, or they’re sexually confused… these are experiences that everyone lives, but we rarely see onstage or in cinema. Also, of course, when we did our fully staged production, there was some partial nudity (which obviously won’t apply to the reading), and although we kept that as honest and respectful as possible, it’s obviously very vulnerable for both the actors and the audience when any sort of nudity is involved, because again, I think it’s fairly rare in our society to take in the human body in a context that’s not asking us to judge it.

This was written for a university audience—what are its applications/implications for a general audience? Is the message universal? (see Chase’s quote below—do you think the exploring is still going on as people age?)

“It’s important that we put these experiences on stage so we can collectively explore them. It’s really about people connecting and not connecting, on physical and emotional levels,” adds director Chase Hiebert.

I definitely think the message is universal; people never stop trying and failing and trying again to connect with one another.

What has changed (if anything) from the first SATCo presentations?

I think most of what will be different in this presentation of the show will come from the actors, and the way we decide to interpret the script now versus six months ago. A lot can happen in six months, and so it will be interesting to see what kind of perspective we get on the work now that we’ve all had that distance.

What would you most like an audience member to know about your show?

It’s okay to laugh at these characters! We had such polar opposite audiences during our run at SATCo– one day, the audience would laugh at all the intended places, and the next, they would be dead serious. I know this is a pretty standard phenomena in theatre, because every audience is different, but I think a lot of that seriousness which can overtake a room stems from discomfort– we feel like we shouldn’t laugh at people who are having a hard time, which of course is a good instinct, mostly. But that’s also exactly why we have entertainment like theatre– so we can laugh at characters when they behave in ridiculous and sympathetic ways, and in turn, laugh at ourselves a bit.

Do you have new work on the horizon?

Yes! I’m very excited to have my new script, Two, being produced by Catador Theatre at the Victoria Fringe Festival this summer. The show is being directed by Colette Habel, who is a fifth year theatre and writing student at UVic and currently working for Theatre SKAM, and we have such an amazing team of actors and designers on board, including Sam Lynch, who will be reading Eleanor in The Bad Touch tomorrow. Two is different than The Bad Touch in that it explores a lot of heavier subject matter, but stylistically, I’ve incorporated the same idea of two parallel scenes unfolding simultaneously onstage– except in Two, these parallel scenes are literally alternate realities of one another. I can’t wait to share the end results.


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