Before the coronavirus outbreak, the Writing University conducted a series of interviews with writers while they were in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sat down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home. We recently, got back in touch with them, and asked for updates! We are posting them now as examples of our shared community strength during this time.
Today we are talking with Playwriting MFA candidate K.T. Peterson.
K.T. Peterson is an actor, playwright, and educator. Her play Love Bird will premiere at the Phoenix Theater of Indianapolis in 2021. Her play 2pm in Faith Nebraska was a part of the 2019 Iowa New Play Festival. Publications include: The True Story of the Hitchhiker Who Was Shot In Pursuit of Kindness (Narrative.ly), and Holy Jolie (Geeky Press). She is in her final year at the Iowa Playwrights Workshop where she teaches Rhetoric. K.T. was a founding member of The Forge Theater Company (NYC) and served as a nominator for the Drama Desk Awards. She has a 15-year relationship with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and its Lilly Theater; acting, directing, and writing museum and children’s theater. She has taught acting and creative writing to children aged K-12, as well as undergraduate students at Towson University. Other writing credits include: Women Works Playwright Winner, New York Musical Theater Festival Developmental Playwriting Series, ATHE semi-finalist, Jerome Fellowship Finalist, Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference Fellow, National Playwriting Nomination, Musical Theatre Award (Book) Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, WordBRIDGE Playwriting Lab, and semi-finalist Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference and Musical Theatre Conference. Current projects include a new musical Razor Creek, a novel, and caring for a brand new tiny human.
1. Do you have a specific project that you will be working on this year?
I've been working alongside the powerhouse Paige L. Scott for the past three years on a folk-rock musical RAZOR CREEK. It's about a cursed mining town in depression-era Kentucky and is about love love love in the face of ignorance and fear. It was set to close out this year's Iowa New Play Festival with an amazing cast and--with the help of Colten Langfitt and Bryon Winn--was to get its steamy, inaugural soundtrack all set to rock people's faces off far and wide. Missing out on festival, on getting songs recorded, on presenting this work in space with my amazing peers is rough pumpkins for sure, as this is my final semester in workshop. I have faith RAZOR CREEK will ride again soon. There's too much rocking to be contained at this point.
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write, or any specific routine?
This is not a normal time. Routines denote stability. Maybe I mean safety. A fretting-for-fret's-sake kind of meaning-making out of the hours in the day. Apparently it was very important for me to be reminded how little control I have over anything. Looking back, pre-quarantine, I can see I orchestrated some routines as if to say "have fun between this time and this time. The rest of the time, I don't know...withstand?" I think that word's important: withstand. That's not any fun. And it's not healthy. I know all of us are reevaluating what 'busyness' means to us, what is most important, so I'm taking all this as an opportunity to get over myself. I had a daughter in December and a pandemic in March. Preciousness over my writing is the last thing on my mind. Each day I take what I can get and try to stop taking myself so seriously. Try to chase the simple joy of making things and giving a shit about people. It's making me more honest, that's for sure. We can't be depressed alone right now. And we should be depressed. As the amazing Sherry Kramer said to me yesterday "if you're not depressed right now there's something wrong with you." We're in this together.
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
I felt guilty reading this question that I wasn't reading as much during the quarantine, that I've been watching a metric ton of TV, but that's dumb. TV is saving my life right now. TV is rubbing my back and telling me it's all going to be okay. It's also the only way I can access live performances. So I watch Met Live Dialogues of the Carmelites, I watch the NT Live stream of Fleabag and cry my eyes out. Bless artists. Everywhere. Pay them all the crown jewels. They are the crown jewels.
4. What is one thing the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?
I'm lucky I get to do this. So many brilliant writers who are working so many jobs they can't write they can't breathe they can't give away what it is they have and it feels like a slow drowning. I know this feeling well. I've had a zillion jobs and I'll probably have more. I'm in grad school now (was, I guess). I have a partner who was willing to come to Iowa and pause with me. A big pause to write. It's a gift. Who knows what's to come.
5. Tell us about where you are from -- what are a few of your favorite details about your home?
I was born in the Ohio River Valley. I had parents who loved me and let me be weird within the bounds of Catholicism. Catholic-weird. (I'm no longer Catholic.) I used to just walk into other people's houses. I remember once I found myself inside someone's home--they happened to be moving that day--and I was eating from a box of cereal. I brought it with me I guess. I sat with one of the children and without talking shared cereal from the box. Then left. I think I remember because she seemed sad. Maybe she didn't want to go. I honestly can't remember if I'd ever spent any time with that family before that day. My childhood was wonderful.
Thank you K.T.!