THUNDERBODIES Playwright Kate Tarker on Comedy

Soho Rep.: Why comedy?

Kate Tarker: I don’t just want more comedy in the theater. I want more truth bombs, more rebellion, more irreverence and way more subversion. Comedy is a darling little trojan horse that can sneak attack you with all of those qualities.

With comedy you can attack everything that has grown stale and dysfunctional, with the ultimate goal of blasting past the rubble and making room for something new. You can be violent and generative all at once.

SR: Why is satire a part of healthy civic life? 

KT: Between politics and advertising, my brain is tired of being told from all sides what to think. Writing this play was cathartic, a process of ridding myself of received ideas and dead language. It’s also about purging myself of fear.

Fear paralyzes. Laughter empowers. The more we can laugh at our fears, the less they can control us. We need to confront the permanently troubling sides of human nature, and we need to accept those parts of ourselves, in a clear-eyed sort of way.

SR: How does clowning and commedia inspire the world you’ve created?  

KT: When society is left to its own devices, it likes to take itself very seriously. But the human race is a hot mess. Comedy is good at reminding us of that by rooting us back in our bodies. No matter how stratified and hierarchical society tries to get, we all pee and poop and cry. For example, I walked in on the Pope on the toilet just the other day, and he was so embarrassed, he died. It was awkward.

One of the things I love about clown and commedia is that they’re not abstractions at all – they’re all about grounding your emotions more deeply in your body. We need this skill. Women need to connect to their anger, to own it as a healthy part of themselves. There is so much power in owning and expressing our true depth of experience. And man do we ever need to feel empowered right now.

SR: Is there anything else you want to say/share about THUNDERBODIES? 

KT: I don’t like being told what to think or feel and I don’t want to tell you what to think or feel either! Feel everything. Think everything.

Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

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