Brooklyn-based playwright and native New Yorker Catya McMullen is making her mark in theater. Her play Missed Connection recently won the 2012 Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival and was directed by Leslye Headland. McMullen is the author of four full length plays—The Collective, Rubber Ducks and Sunsets, Everything is Probably Going to be Okay, and Rock Me Like a Hurricane—along with numerous shorts. The founder of the September Challenge Brunch Series, McMullen has been produced or developed work with The Middle Voice Theater Company (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Ground UP Productions, Ugly Rhino, ESPA at Primary Stages and UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of Dramatic Art. She is a company member of The Middle Voice Theater Company and the Educational Director for Ground UP. She graduated from UNC-CH with Honors in 2011, and was the recipient of the Max Steele Senior Prize in Fiction and the Suzanne Bolch Literary Award.
This time around, McMullen turned her creative energies crafting answers for WAT’s Proust Questionnaire written by Jason Veduccio.
What was your ideal job before the current situation?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor. Not really that much of a jump.
What job did you hate?
I worked one retail job when I was nineteen. When I quit, my boss smiled and informed me I should never work retail again. So I guess that one?
What people inspired you to follow this path?
My family has always been deeply supportive. Like, absurdly so. I’ve always wanted to do something in theater. I’ve tried out a number of different paths. I still do some of them on the side.
I had a professor, this playwright Marc Palmieri, when I was at City College who was my first creative writing instructor. We sampled playwriting and, afterwards, he encouraged me and got me into an MFA class in playwriting.
One of the founding members of Ground UP Productions, Dan Wheeless, supported me every step of the way up until this point. He saw promise in my first play, The Collective, helped me develop it and got me a staged reading of it. He was the GUP member who initially commissioned Rubber Ducks and Sunsets. Everything I did he had a hand in. Rubber Ducks and Sunsets is dedicated to him.
When you were sixteen, whom did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh God. I don’t think me at sixteen had much ambition to do anything except add more electrical tape to my combat boots and figure out what color to dye my hair next.
How old would you be if age didn’t matter?
I like my age right now. I’ve settled into the fun of my twenties. But also am old enough to value responsibility and have some experience with it.
How many people in your life would you call a close friend?
A bunch, I think. My relationships are some of the most important things in my life. I am really lucky to be surrounded by some fantastic, fantastic friends. The kind of people who shake you up and make you laugh and who make you a better person for knowing them.
Who would get you excited to attend a meeting if you knew they would be there?
Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Meriwether.
What was the tipping point in getting you into your current professional position?
Oh gosh. I’m not sure. Maybe winning the Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival. Or maybe one of the 9,000 opportunities Ground UP has given me. I don’t think I can chop anything that’s happened up to one piece of success, however.
What is the single most important thing to do to be successful?
What is the most over-rated thing about being successful?
It doesn’t secure happiness.
What could you use right now if someone would invent it for you?
A dishwasher. Oh wait – that’s invented. I just don’t have one.
What should young people know as they leave school?
It’s going to be okay. I promise. Oh, and do what you love. Even if it seems crazy.
What do you do most when together with your family?
Laugh. Oh and, because we’re Jews, there’s a lot of eating.
What do you love to do with your free time lately that you rather not admit?
Lil Jon dance breaks (actually, I have no problem admitting that). I haven’t really had much free time.
What personal or professional goals do you have for yourself for two years from now?
Keep on truckin’.
What does your most commonly eaten lunch consist of?
Greens. In this heat, I’ve been juicing a lot. I’ve been working from home a lot and making myself a lot of eggs. Eggs. Or salad. Or eggs in salad.
Who is your favorite fashion designer for business clothes?
Guuuuh…ask my grandmother. She buys my business clothes.
What do you need to get through the day that you would least like to sacrifice right now?
Sleep. Contact with people I love.
What do you need to get through the day that you would most like to sacrifice right now?
Sleep? I’ve been a daily meditator for years. Recently it’s been harder but I’ve paid the price not doing it.
If all of humanity was to stop what they were doing and focus on working together on just one thing through to its completion, what is it we should we all be doing in your opinion?
Oh gosh I don’t know. I think people are so diverse so I don’t know what we would all do… Something to promote love and tolerance. And creativity. This question is daunting. Recycle and love each other. I don’t know what people should be doing. Especially all people. Collectively.