Landis and the Bear
When a teen discovers his grandma’s book of funeral plans for others, it prompts them to invent the tale of his own heroic death. A gentle comedy about the immortality of love and the beauty of imagination.
Cate Berg’s short plays have been produced by the Omaha Magic Theatre, Wisconsin Public Radio, and Seattle’s Stone Soup Theatre. Her first full-length play, “What Is Good,” was recently given a public reading by The Playwrights Group. Currently, she’s revising her second full-length play, “River of Possession/s.” She’s the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship for Literature from the Nebraska State Arts Council and holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives with her partner and their pets in Kingston, NY.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
My parents met as aspiring actors in NYC and we had a shelf full of Samuel French scripts. Before I could read, I loved rearranging the variously colored scripts. When I first read “Uncle Vanya” as a teen, I dismissed it as nothing until I saw my father’s community theatre production – suddenly, I understood how scripts are the blueprint, a shorthand.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I’d read Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt” and loved the flights of imagination. Somehow this developed into the tales Landis and his grandmother weave together.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
emerging, adventurous, humorous, intuitive, deep
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
When I majored in Dramatic Lit in the 1980s at NYU, we didn’t read a single play by a female playwright. If it hadn’t been for seeing Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud 9” at the Lortel, I would’ve given up. In Nebraska, I connected with playwright Megan Terry and worked with her for a year. Because my MFA is in Fiction Writing, many of my influences are from literature as well – Woolf, Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, to name a few. And of course, my parents, who never made it big as actors, but who continued to act and direct in community theatre upstate.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I can spit a stream of water through the gap between my teeth, a talent I only display for people under 5 years old.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Christopher Durang’s “The Marriage of Bette and Boo”, O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey”, Churchill’s “Cloud 9”, Suzan Lori-Parks “Top Dog/Underdog”, Mamet’s “Glengarry”, Pinter’s “The Dumbwaiter”, Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive.”
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
In my first full-length play titled “What Is Good,” I delve into the story of a woman and her bipolar brother, exploring the profound impact of mental illness and trauma on a family. I’m currently revising my second full-length play, tentatively titled “River of Possession/s.” It is a comedy that revolves around a bisexual woman who finds herself caught between her lover, her ex-husband, and her ex-husband’s girlfriend.