Cap T: Ten Years in Austin
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Interview with Motherfuckin’ Director Carrie Klypchak

21 August 2013

A lot of you may have seen Carrie Klypchak’s name in our program on each production, but some of you haven’t had the distinct pleasure to meet this talented artist. Well here is your chance! The director of The Motherfucker with the Hat shared with Cap T her thoughts about directing Stephen Adly Guirgis’ complex play as well was what its like to live in Austin.

What drew you to this particular script?

I am generally attracted to plays that give me an extreme visceral reaction when I first read them – they hit me in the gut, they make me laugh-out-loud, etc.; MOTHERFUCKER did both of those things in extreme ways. It might sound contradictory to say it this way, but, the best way that I can describe my reaction to the piece is to say that I was really struck by the beautiful simplicity of the script in relaying the extreme complexity of these characters’ lives to the audience. As a director, I often say to actors, “you’ll get a long way by allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable up there and by showing the audience your hearts;” that sounds so simple, but it’s actually an incredibly tall order, and in my opinion, that kind of artistic accomplishment is only possible to fully achieve through working with a very well-crafted script, such as MOTHERFUCKER. I watched an interview with Stephen Adly Guirgis, during which he talked about how important that he felt it was that the title of the piece reflected the kind of street language that audiences would experience when they came to see these characters dealing with such extreme and raw moments in their lives, which made a lot of sense to me. But, when I initially read the play, I was still a little concerned about publicizing the piece since it had profanity in the title. Mark Pickell and I talked about it, though, and we decided that if there was a city that could handle that title – Austin was that city.

You have contributed to the majority of Capital T’s shows. How did you become involved with Cap T?

Late in 2006, Mark asked me to serve as the dramaturg for Cap T’s upcoming 2007 production of LA DISPUTE. At first, I was a bit nervous about doing the dramaturgy for the piece since I had just recently moved to the Dallas area. However, I’d worked with Mark quite a bit in the past in a professional capacity by that point, and I knew that we shared a common vision of what theatre can and should strive to be. Mark assured me that we would “figure out a way to make the distance thing work,” and to my pleasure, we did. After LA DISPUTE closed, Mark called and asked me if I wanted to become a full-time member of Cap T. The company was still very young at that point, and during that phone call we started talking about all types of exciting things for the company’s future – much of which has now come to fruition. It was, and still is, very important to me to work with other artists with a similar artistic ethos; that’s really a very rare and special thing for a theatre practitioner to experience. So, for the past seven years or so, I have been traveling back and forth quite a bit to and from Austin to work on shows for the company as a dramaturg, director, and/or (occasionally) actor, while also reading tons of scripts as the company’s Literary Manager. It’s been a wild and awesome ride thus far; I have really treasured every second of it.

What is your day job?

I am lucky enough that my “day job” is also working in theatre. I am the Director of Theatre Graduate Studies and an Associate Professor of Acting and Directing at Texas A&M University – Commerce. Currently, I am on Faculty Development Leave (formerly known in academia as a “sabbatical”) through December so that I can live in Austin and work with Cap T full-time.

How do you like living in Austin?

I absolutely adore living here! I previously lived in this area for about seven years and couldn’t wait to get back to a kind of “full-time residence” situation. I love the people, I love the opportunities, I love the way of life, and I love the fact that the city is so rich in art and culture! Austin is most definitely “my happy place.”

What surprised you the most while working on this script?

Stephen Adly Guirgis is really just a master wordsmith. Obviously, I loved this piece from the very beginning; but it’s pretty amazing that I watch every single performance, and that each night I still walk away from the theatre having another of his lines stay with me.

You have an amazing group of actors in the show. How has it been to work with the actors in Motherfucker?

It’s been absolutely wonderful and inspiring. This is a group of real powerhouse talent all the way around. It’s been so wonderful to work with such fine and skilled performers who are so dedicated to delving into all of the layers that the script provides in such great depth. And… they are all just really funny (onstage and off). They’re also a group of really good, genuine people who I loved being in the same room with for six weeks (which is a beautiful gift to a director).

What has surprised you the most about the show in production with an audience versus in the rehearsal room?

Well, I knew that the script hit me on a visceral level, but it really is amazing how markedly it affects the audience in this way as well. Each night, we’ve have audience members make quite a few spontaneous noises from the house during some of the play’s more shocking moments, we regularly need to hold quite long periods for the audience’s laughing and/or clapping to die down so that people can hear the actors’ words, and sometimes, we even have audience members talk back to the characters onstage. I think audience members may feel that they develop personal relationships with these characters pretty early on during the experience of seeing MOTHERFUCKER, which I attribute to a combination of the power of the writing, the honesty of the actors’ performances, and the intimacy of the space in Hyde Park Theatre.

Do you find yourself using more profanity on a daily basis after working on this script?

Let’s just say that since this rehearsal process began, I’ve definitely been using a different type of language than I generally use at my “day job.”

What is your next directing project?

I am slated to direct a production of EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by Lauren Gunderson. When we recently did this show at Cap T, I wasn’t able to work on it, because I was directing another show elsewhere. But, I absolutely adored this script from my very first reading of it and became bound and determined to work on it at some point. So, I am absolutely thrilled to be directing this show at Texas A&M – Commerce in February of 2014. I’m really very lucky that my university embraces my need to work on new, edgier work. I know that this is not always the case at other universities. I feel that it’s very important that during their training, my students work on the types of scripts that they will encounter in the professional theatre once they graduate. And again (perhaps a bit selfishly), I just really really love this script!

What do you want audiences to be talking about when they leave MOTHERFUCKER?

The motherfuckin’ power of that story.