AFT Looks Back: PULP (2004 and 2007)
In honor of our 20th anniversary, we are reflecting on some of our most popular and pivotal shows from the last two decades. This week, we had the great pleasure to speak with Patricia Kane about becoming a playwright with support from AFT and created her wildly successful show, PULP. Read on to learn more and stay tuned as we share AFT history every week throughout our 20th Anniversary campaign!
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In 2001, About Face Theatre developed and produced Patricia Kane’s play, an adaptation of the novel SEVEN MOVES, the first play Kane had ever written. During a post-show talkback, AFT Founder Eric Rosen made a remark that would change how Kane viewed herself as an artist. “Eric said something like, ‘I love this production, but the parts of the play I like the best are the parts that came from Pat.’ It took me aback. I had never considered myself a playwright. That put the idea in my head.”
Not long after, Kane was in a bookstore and came across a book of lesbian pulp fiction cover images. She took the book home and her wheels began to turn. When an AFT artistic meeting turned to a need to put more “L” in their LGBT, the discussion of creating a play inspired by lesbian pulp fiction took hold. The seed for PULP was officially planted.
“One of the big things I wanted to accomplish with PULP was to twist that genre and making it affirming,” says Kane. And PULP did just that. The play turns the genre on its ear resulting in a tremendously fun love story with tons of heart. Kane also notes, “I also wanted to let people know that lesbians can be funny! Crazy, I know!”
PULP enjoyed two wildly successful runs with AFT, one in 2004 and the other in 2007 when Kane played a role in the show herself. When asked if this huge success opened doors for her as a lesbian playwright, Kane’s earnest response is, “Actually, it closed them.” While the play went on to have various productions across the country, no one would publish it. “My agent would try to get it in certain theaters and was told, ‘It’s a play about lesbians, we won’t do it.’”
Kane’s experience is a reminder of how far we’ve come, and also the work we still have to do. “One of the wonderful things about going to see PULP was seeing audience members from every walk of life,” remarks Kane. “We as gay folks have been going to see straight plays for…forever. And just the recognition that our stories are also pertinent to the straight world and that we can learn from each other…it’s a hard door to crack open, but it’s starting to,” remarks Kane.
Work like Kane’s is what AFT strives to accomplish. New work, developed with support of the company, that tells universal stories and helps to keep pushing that door open. Reflecting our lives on stage reflects the human condition, and every artist like Kane who puts their view of the world on stage contributes to helping more people understand that too.