Umbrella Talk with Kathleen McDonnell

In this week's Umbrella Talk, Kathleen McDonnell talks about inspiration in water, what she wants in a director, and where she'd like her work produced.

A Little More about Kathleen McDonnell

Kathleen is the author of eight books (fiction and non-fiction) and a dozen plays. She has done playwriting residencies at Youtheatre in Montreal and at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in Toronto. She received a Chalmers Award in 1994 for her TYA play Loon Boy and two Dora nominations in 2003 for The Seven Ravens. Other Canadian theatres that have produced her work include the Blyth Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille and Shadowland Theatre.

What do you drink on opening night?
Good microbrewery beer - too bad theatres don't have taps.

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?
For my new play "Beautiful Savage" I want a director who's as excited about the story as I am, but who brings something totally different to it - especially a strong visual sense, which I don't have.

What scares you? What can't you write about?
There's a story I've been circling around for years - a murder that I have a personal & family connection to...

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?
Growing up in a big (9 kids) family, without the reality-TV spin or "Cheaper by the Dozen" cuteness.

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)
Is it a cop-out to say "all of the above"?

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
I respond with profound embarrassment to both. Crazy, eh?

Where would you like your work to be produced?
Well, I'd be an idiot not to answer "everywhere". But to get specific, I'd like see Beautiful Savage at Canadian Stage or the NAC. And one of these days I would love to have a play produced in Chicago, where I grew up, so my family can see that I really do work for a living.

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?
Both - I write first drafts in longhand - once something's on the screen it feels "locked-in" and no longer fluid to me, so I don't keyboard till draft #2, at the earliest.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
Every writer's daydream: "If only her brilliance and startling originality had been recognized in her lifetime!"

What inspires you?
Water - in liquid and solid (ice) form. I get my best ideas while swimming and skating in/on natural bodies of water.