Downtown performer Kim Katzberg brings her multimedia solo play, “Dad in a Box,” to the Wild Project for a one-night-only encore of the award-winning show on Sunday, January 5th at 7:00pm.
The piece had a successful run earlier this year at HERE Arts Center, garnering her a 2019 NY Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Solo Performance and nominations for Outstanding Original Short Script and Video Design.
The show is described as a “darkly comedic, multi-character, semi-autobiographical, multimedia solo play,” that follows her “struggle to gain access to her emotional core, while she attempts to process the just-announced impending death of her abusive father. The story follows Katzberg’s efforts, through wildly inventive pieces in improv class, to prod and shock herself into facing and confronting her father’s emotional hold on her.”
Katzberg spoke with me about the process of creating the show and what she is bringing to the latest incarnation of it:
“I wanted to deepen it because I was feeling good about the work at HERE, but I feel like there’s more to be mined…and that this is my strongest work so far,” she said, “so, I feel like I’m on to something.” The idea for the show started when she was awarded a travel grant in 2017 and chose to go to The Second City Comedy School, in Chicago, to take improv and writing classes. She had just arrived and was thoroughly enjoying it, when she got a message from her estranged father, with the news that he had Pancreatic Cancer.
“So, the show is about that experience of getting that news and then traveling to South Carolina, where he lived, to see him, and my personal decision to really show up for him – because we had been in this troubled relationship…but my mother died when I was 24… and I didn’t show up for her — so I was guilt ridden about that, and decided I wouldn’t do that again.”
Katzberg promises the show is humorous. “It’s a double narrative of me doing improv classes while dealing with his death,” she said. “My work always has a lot of dark humor and material that is [what might be considered] inappropriate…But one weekend during the last run, I got sick, and I had all this intense grief hit me, and a lot of the feelings in the show came up that hadn’t really hit me before, so I think that’s why I wanted to do it again. I feel like I’m finding even more vulnerability in it this time…there are more layers there now, I think.”
She works with longtime collaborator and director, Raquel Cion, whom she praises for profoundly assisting in bringing out the performance within her. “Without her, none of this would be possible,” she said.
Looking towards the future of “Dad in a Box,” Katzberg hopes to continue with a longer run and dive even deeper. “I’m playing myself for the first time (along with playing my family members) which is new and risky for me, so there’s something about this piece that I want to keep developing…and I want to share it with more people.”
You can buy tickets to the encore performance at Wild Project here.