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The Year of Dead Cats

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Erica Herd
May 24, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright and actor..

What is your show about?
A surreal and slapstick story about a woman trying to make sense of a terrible disease while the rest of her world threatens to fall apart.

Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Manhattan, on East 27th Street, in a 5th floor walk up apartment. My Mom gave birth to me alone (not intentional, I was premature) with the cat Mitzi acting as midwife. When I was 5 or 6 we moved to Jackson Heights, Queens. I went to Catholic school through high school, and received my B.A. from Hunter College.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
They are all equally important. In this show, I am co-author and actor, and my husband, L.E. Swenson is co-author. Without a good director, even a brilliant play can fail. I am very fortunate to have Cheryl King as my director. Couldn't be happier.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
This show found me. The subject matter is personal--about my mom who was an exceptionally talented actress who suffered from mental illness and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2010. I take a comedic spin on it, try to find a way to heal the pain with laughter. It started as a blog on Open Salon while I was in the throes of dealing with mom's illness in 2011. And with the help of my director and co-author, we transformed it into a play.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Harpo.

Who are your heroes?
Neurologist and author, Dr. Oliver Sacks ("Awakenings" and many other fine books); the women from the Alzheimer's Association NYC Chapter caretakers support group; punk band Pussy Riot; the 911 first responders.