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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interview | Kate Moira Ryan and Judy Gold of ITS' JEWDY'S SHOW

Kristin Idaszak, Dramaturg, had a chance to interview Kate Moira Ryan, playwright, and Judy Gold, co-writer and performer about the creation of It's Jewdy's Show.

Kate Moira Ryan: So are you Jewish?

Kristin Idaszak: No, I was raised very Roman Catholic.

KMR: Me either. But it’s kind of like Stockholm’s Syndrome. So what do you want to know about us?

KI: First I’d love to know how you two started working together.

Judy Gold: We’re friends. Years ago, she met my ex at a party—

KMR: When Henry was eight months old—

JG: And my ex said, I met these really cool people, we’re going out to dinner with them. We went out for Mexican food and had like 400 margaritas. So that’s when I knew Kate and I were going to be friends.

KMR: If we didn’t have alcohol, we wouldn’t be friends.


KMR: We were in Chicago—

JG: And I was doing the clubs and Kate was in town—and we were at this party, where there were free martinis, but I was working so I wasn’t drinking, and I said, Kate, I can’t do the clubs anymore—

KMR: You’d had a martini. You were done for the night.

JG: I’d had a martini.

KMR: And I said, why don’t you do a one-person show—

JG: No I said, I want to do a one-person show.

KMR: And I said, let’s do it about Jewish mothers.

JG: No, you asked what my act was about. It was about my mother, and I was getting ridiculed by the Jewish press for playing into stereotypes.

KMR: So I had another martini and said, well, why don’t we interview Jewish mothers and find out if the stereotype is real. We came up with 25 questions on the back of a cocktail napkin. So she called me the next morning and said, I’m so excited to get started. I asked, on what? Because I’d had too many martinis—

JG: And I’d only had one! But then we started working on 25 Questions for Jewish Mothers, and that was very successful.

KMR: It played in New York for nine months and toured around the country for three years.

JG: We just finished that a year ago. Then I started this project—and this is more standup-y—with my friends Eric and Bob.

KMR: Then Judy called me and said, "I want to go in a different direction." I asked her what she wanted it to be. She said, "I want it to be about my quest for a sitcom and why it didn’t work out." And her relationship with comedy and how that transformed her life. As a child she was bullied because she was different—she was very tall at a very young age, and a little geeky, right?

JG: A little geeky?


KMR: And she wanted her own sitcom because when she was a kid she really lived in this world inside the tv set. I said, let’s write about that. We took the structure that Bob and Eric had come up with and then I stripped it down and we really made it into what she wanted it to be about. And it’s great because every process is really that, a process. A lot of cooks went into the pot. And we worked furiously to rewrite the show for three months.

KI: So what is that process like? Obviously, Judy, it’s your life. What’s it like for you, Kate, to write about someone else’s life—how do you do that?

KMR: Judy and I are so connected. I provided the structure but Judy was really interested in helping shape it. We write really well together. She’ll get up and do something and I’ll watch, so the writing really takes place in the rehearsal room. And we’re always cracking jokes together and having a great time. I love writing with her, and I love writing for her. Of course sometimes we want to kill each other, but that’s not often. I mean, we had such a great time at Stop n’ Shop last night—but we’re also rather demented. I was chasing her down the aisles trying to run her over with the shopping cart. It’s not that we don’t have deep conversations—sometimes we do—but mostly we really just enjoy each other’s company.

KI (laughing): That’s fantastic. And you’re also a well-known playwright in your own right. How does this compare to your other work?

KMR: I’m really eclectic. I’ve written several adaptations—I wrote an adaptation called BeeBo Brinker Chronicles based on lesbian pulp novels from the 40s and 50s, and a play about four women rehearsing Chekhov before they’re executed, called OTMA. I do travel a lot to Eastern Europe, mainly Russia. That’s my fascination. But I do really almost anything. Sometimes it’s successful, and sometimes it’s not. But that’s what a life in the theatre really is. You put it out there and you keep moving forward.

KI: Is this your first time at WTF?

KMR: I was actually here with Bart Sher—about ten years ago now—we did readings for a of a few of my plays.

KI: And you were here last summer at the cabaret, right Judy?

JG: Yes. It’s a very creative, productive, positive atmosphere. You really feel like you’re in the middle of major creativity. And I love the apprentices—they’re so wide-eyed and eager—

KMR: They’re so enthusiastic—

JG: And I just want to go up to them and whisper into their ears, “Get out.”

KMR: “Get out while you still can.”

KI: So I have one last question for you—what’s your drink of choice?

KMR: What is your drink? You like red wine.

JG: Coffee. Black.

KMR: That’s not a drink.

JG: Yes it is. She asked what my drink of choice is. Any drink, right?

KI: Right.

JG: Coffee. Black, strong coffee. I also like ice water. Ice water and coffee.

KMR: Well I like Diet Coke. And I like tequila. But I don’t drink tequila during the day.

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