Catherine Castellani Artistic Statement
I am feeling a new urgency as an artist, a citizen, a woman, a mother, a voter, and a member of many communities. My body of work has explored workaholism, the trapped nature of our American work culture, and co-worker relationships--both the comic and the fraught. But in the past two years my lens of community has gotten wider and sharper at once. A neighborhood. A city. A state. A nation. The “little” things that happen between us in supermarkets and classrooms and street corners seem to inhabit a bigger stage. A kindness becomes a statement. An insult toward one person is a stab at a whole group. We all feel stronger, weaker, more vulnerable, emboldened, determined. Connected, like it or not. The stories I’m drawn to now feel like a new phase in building my body of work. Possession is a direct response to Charlottesville and my attempt to grapple with the way white supremacy pervades our culture. I’m also working with a true story told to me about a McCarthy-era school PTA confrontation between parents, teachers, and administrators on a Commie hunt in their small town. I’m in the earliest research phase of exploring the centuries of lawsuits and treaties between New York State and the Iroquois/Haudenosaunee, and wondering what dramatic form my long-standing obsession with the statue of Benedict Arnold’s left boot on the Battlefield at Saratoga will take. All of my new work is centered in the idea that The Way It Was is not going to be, cannot continue to be, The Way It Is.
Which is not to say I reject hilarity, beauty, the quotidien, the Great British Baking Show, obsessing about shoes, or the eternal question: what’s for dinner? I believe the theatrical can embrace the big stuff and the small, that the small illuminates the big, the big invades the small, and it all has to work live, in the the room, now, with these people struggling with their winter coats or fanning themselves with their programs. I’m a pragmatic playwright. The theater is all about logistics before it’s about the transcendent. I’m good with that. I enjoy that. It even delights me. Tragedy, comedy, supermarket, nation. It all lives together in our world and I think it all belongs on stage.