Sunday, August 11, 2019

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: Dad in a Box

Kim Katzberg
Dad in a Box
By Kim Katzberg
Directed by Raquel Cion
Produced by Eat a Radish Productions

Nominated for:
Outstanding Solo Performance: Kim Katzberg
Outstanding Short Script: Kim Katzberg
Outstanding Innovative Design: Raquel Cion, Maia Cruz Palileo, Jacqueline Reed, Kim Katzberg

About the Show

When your father’s death explodes the cracked myth of a loving family—in improv comedy class.

Acclaimed artist Kim Katzberg (Darkling, Strays) most revealing—and hilarious—work. A prestigious improv comedy workshop seems like an ideal career boost for Katzberg, until she finds her fervid imagination hamstrung by generic critiques. ‘…Suicidal girl on a date? I’m not sure it’s a network thing.’ But the real improvisation starts when Katzberg’s emotionally distant father dies, paralyzing her psyche and forcing her to confront her California-cool brother and erratic prodigal sister. Katzberg, playing a plethora of characters, struggles to become more real onstage, be truthful to her father, and express her inexplicable love for him.

Photographer: Maria Baranova

About Eat a Radish Productions and Kim Katzberg
My voice, as a queer female theater artist, uses comedy to address disturbing problems common to the female experience, through heightened, tragicomic characters with unconventional physicalities, imaginations, voices, and rhythms. I want to arouse, frustrate, and re-educate the male gaze. Owning my experience with trauma empowers me. I mix uncertainty with irreverent humor to create discomfort, instigating a challenging emotional experience. Comedy provides relief and breaks down walls around provocative issues. The more I risk uncovering the unbounded core of my soul, the more effective I am in neutralizing shame and finding celebration.

What attracted you to working on this project?
I made this play to connect with my Dad, something I struggled to do when he was alive. It wasn’t until after the first three performances, when I got a 24 hr stomach bug and had to just be home with myself, that I felt acute grief as a result of the subject matter of the show. Reliving his death opened me up and connected me to my Dad. Reflecting back, I think I initially wrote the show to avoid the grief, but of course because of the show, I am now feeling the grief. The structure of the show gives a form to explore the grief safely, and my director Raquel helps me with that.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
I make theater to communicate what I can’t express in my everyday life. Characters have always been a safe container for me to go wild, be bold and explore what’s underneath the surface. I feel most in my body when I’m in character. The direct address was scariest for me because I’ve never been just myself onstage. I was worried that I would disassociate and I wouldn’t be interesting to watch. This play is my attempt at expressing what is real for me around my father’s death. When I’m talking about what’s real, I’m not dissociated, and that's when I feel most connected to the audience. My favorite part of working on this production was feeling deeply and profoundly connected to the audience.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
I have issues to confront with my Dad, within myself, and the final scene of "Dad in a Box" is about how much work I still need to do. I was in the process of facing some of those things, like his alcoholism, my codependency and my fear of him. But he had to go and die on me! (I’m joking.) I have a long way to go until I come to terms with my troubled relationship with him, and I wanted the final speech to be both a release for “Kim” and portray how disturbed the relationship still is for me even though he’s gone. The most challenging part of working on this production was getting in touch with my vulnerability around my complicated relationship with my Dad.

Photographer: Marina Zamalin
What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
I want the audience to feel less alone in their complicated feelings around dysfunctional familial relationships. I also want the audience to feel less alone in having irreverent and inappropriate feelings around death.

Why are the nominees from this production awesome?
Raquel Cion, my director, is nominated for Outstanding Innovative Design for her work on the commercial parody videos in the show. She took my ideas for the videos and made them outrageous! We had so much crazy fun shooting the videos in rehearsal spaces around Brooklyn. Raquel fiercely committed herself to this production in a way that gave me permission to be vulnerable in the work.

Was there anything odd, quirky, innovative, funny or otherwise noteworthy about your experience with this production?
Maia Cruz Palileo (Outstanding Innovative Design Nominee and my wife!) and I shot one of the show videos in her studio building in Sunset Park, Brooklyn around the Christmas holiday. Because there was no one around at that time, I was able to be bottomless and rocking back and forth holding myself out in the open! I was Donald Ducking it!

What does this nomination mean to you?
I had been feeling so despondent about "Dad in a Box" over the past few months. I felt like I had poured my heart and soul into the production, that it was my best work, and yet it wasn't getting any recognition and had no future. Now that it has been nominated for 3 NYIT Awards I feel validated and reinvigorated to continue to develop and deepen it for a future run. It can be challenging to keep making work without external validation, so being nominated for Outstanding Solo Performance, Short Script and Innovative Design puts much needed wind in my sails!

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