jakub | March 2, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | The Subtext: The Time Kate Tarker Lost Her Paints


Kate Tarker.

Each month on The Subtext Brian speaks with a playwright about life, writing, and whatever itches we are scratching.

This month Brian talks to Kate Tarker, author of Soho Rep’s recent production of Montag. Tarker is an American playwright, currently based out of New York and Rhode Island, who grew up bilingually in Germany. She writes countercultural plays for smart, curious audiences about the big topics that divide us, including language, embodied power dynamics, and national identity. In addition to Montag, her produced plays include THUNDERBODIES, also at Soho Rep; Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man at the Wilma and FoolsFURY; and Laura and the Sea at Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre Ensemble.

Kate’s works have been developed in theatres across the U.S. and in London. She is the recipient of a Jerome Fellowship, the Vineyard’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, and Theater Masters’ Visionary Playwright Award. She is currently under commission from Playwrights Horizons and Theater Masters. Kate has also been published in The Paris Review and has work in the McSweeney’s anthology I Know What’s Best For You: Stories on Reproductive Freedom. She received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Kate discusses at length the importance of sustainability in her life and career, and about how she began her creative life as a painter. Following high school she received a grant to travel to the Republic of the Congo to observe and paint gorillas. When her paints didn’t arrive, she took to her journal and began writing what she observed instead—writing that would evolve into her first dramatic work. After her time in Africa, she attended Reed College in Portland, Ore., where a teacher recognized her playwriting abilities and potential and convinced her to attend the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive. It was there, hearing from preeminent theatremakers like Marsha Norman and Christopher Bayes, that Kate took to her journal once again, deciding playwriting was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

This episode can also be found here.

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