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The Subtext: Kate Hamill’s Sensibility

The actor/playwright behind a trove of popular literary adaptations talks about her inspiration, and about her non-Austen work.

Kate Hamill. (Photo by Sub/Urban Photography)

Each month Brian James Polak talks to a fellow playwright about the things usually left unsaid. In a conversation that dives into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires and—ultimately—what makes writers tick.

This month Brian speaks with the prolific and oft-produced playwright Kate Hamill, whose plays include Sense & Sensibility (in which she originated the role of Marianne), Vanity Fair (in which she originated the role of Becky Sharp), Pride and Prejudice, DraculaIn the Mines (a Sundance Lab semi-finalist), Little Women, Em (Red Bull New Play finalist), and The Little Fellow (O’Neill semi-finalist).

Kate shares the story of finding herself in audition after audition for characters that lacked depth and agency, which is why she decided to start writing plays herself. Her first effort, which started as a bet with a friend, was an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility that ended up becoming a New York Times Critic’s Pick and running for nearly nine months Off-Broadway. That set her on the trajectory she’s been on ever since, as author of both adaptations and original works.

Despite having five productions cancelled or postponed in 2020, Kate maintains a positive outlook for a post-pandemic future, ready for what her husband and sometime acting partner Jason O’Connell (they recently appeared in a Syracuse Stage production of Talley’s Folly) optimistically calls “the next roaring ’20s.”

The episode can be downloaded here.

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