I had the serious joy of seeing KATHERINE GLOVER‘s play BURNING BROTHELS: SEX AND DEATH IN NEVADA last summer at the Victoria Fringe Festival, and was pleased as could be to hear she was coming to Ottawa. She’s bringing along her newest piece, DEAD WRONG, and was cool enough to let me ask her a few questions about her and her work, and now you lucky fools get to read it!
Visitorium – Tell us a little about yourself!
Katherine Glover – I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I quit theater as a college
freshman, more than a decade ago, but I kept writing, and then I
started performing my writing, and then I started performing my
writing with a director, and then BOOM! I was back in the theater.
Dammit! How did that happen? Sneaky, sneaky theater. I also write
fiction, creative non-fiction, and increasingly, multi-character
V – What inspired you to create DEAD WRONG?
KG – I interviewed a woman about ten years ago who was in the same
situation as the protagonist of Dead Wrong — she had survived a
terrible crime and sent the man she thought was her assailant to
prison — in fact, she said, she was 100 percent sure it was him. When
DNA proved it was in fact a completely different man, she would have
sworn she’d never seen the actual assailant before in her life. Later
on in grad school for journalism, I met another woman in a similar
situation, and I started doing research on wrongful conviction and
coming across other stories of mistaken eyewitness testimony. Not only
was I drawn to the topic because of the important criminal justice
aspect (I can’t think of much that’s more horrible than being locked
up for a crime you didn’t commit) but I’m also fascinated by how
flawed human memory actually is. We tend to trust our memories as
infallible — often we know we can’t remember things, but when we do
remember something, we assume the details are accurate. In reality,
memories are quite malleable and there are a whole bunch of factors
that influence what we think we saw and experienced. For example, how
many couples have arguments about the details of how they met or some
other major shared event? Both are 100 percent sure that what they
remember is how it actually happened, but obviously they can’t both be
V – Your previous show BURNING BROTHELS centered around a true story. Are you
more drawn to theatre with a basis in fact?
KG – I have a background in journalism, and I used to think of myself as a
professional journalist who did creative writing and performance as
sort of a side hobby, but over the past couple of years I’ve become
much more interested in merging the two and creating shows that share
knowledge based on my research and interview skills. And before that I
guess my work was still fact-based, since it was autobiography… I
enjoy fiction, both writing it and reading it, but to me it’s best
when it’s exploring some aspect of the real world.
V – How has your work as a journalist influenced your theatre work?
KG – I’m very concerned about being as accurate and authentic as possible.
Dead Wrong is fiction, but I did research similar cases and on how the
criminal justice system works in general, and I was extremely happy
when an audience member told me that she was a public defender and
that my show seemed realistic. That’s basically what I’m going for —
the characters and details are made up, but I want them to be
plausible and true-to-life.
Dead Wrong is actually the first fictional show I’ve ever written,
which freed me up and allowed me to play with the story in ways that I
couldn’t do with my historical show and also did not feel comfortable
with in my autobiographical stories. Different performers approach
personal storytelling in different ways, but the journalist in me has
always made me very conservative about stretching the truth or
V – What sort of response do you hope this show will provoke in your audience
KG – That’s a hard question. It’s a bad idea for a writer to think they can
control what their audience is going to take away. I mean, Upton
Sinclair wrote The Jungle to raise awareness about the horrible
conditions of meat packing plant workers, but instead he inspired food
safety legislation to protect consumers.
That said, I definitely want to suck people in, to make the show as
vivid and engaging as possible, and I’ve tried to create a story that
is complex and nuanced and hopefully leaves people thinking.
V – If this is your first time coming to Ottawa, what geeky-tourist thing are
you planning to do first?
KG – Honestly, I know nothing about Ottawa except that I’ve met some cool
touring Fringe artists who are from there. So we’ll see.
DEAD WRONG plays at the Ottawa Fringe Festival at Academic Hall from June 14th to 24th. Check the Festival Website for showtimes, map and prices. Then tune back in tomorrow for yet another Fringe-terview!