Kim Katzberg - Dad In A Box
"Katzberg is a phenomenal shapeshifter of attitudes and inner lives...multimedia barrage and emotional cacophony...” -HiLoBrow
Kim Katzberg (Strays, Darkling, Penetrating The Space) is an award-winning queer theater artist who has has been creating genre-bending solo work since 2010. Her work was nominated for the 2014 NYIT Award “Outstanding Solo Performance” (Darkling); and won the 2016 NYIT Award “Outstanding Original Short Script” (Strays). Strays is included in The Best American Short Plays, 2015-2016 published by Applause Books. Of her 2011 breakout show Penetrating The Space, the NY Times wrote, “Penetrating the Space has a glowing, vulnerable, haunting center.” Theatermania said, “Katzberg is acutely aware of the strange contradictions in the theater world and she milks them to great effect, adding to an already hilarious physical performance." Dad in a Box is Katzberg’s latest, winning a NY Innovative Theatre Award for "Outstanding Solo Performance" in 2019.
Kim Katzberg's NY Innovative Theatre Award-winning play Dad in a Box is back for one night only! A prestigious improv comedy workshop seems like an ideal career boost for Katzberg, until she finds her fervid imagination hamstrung by generic critiques. "...Suicidal girl on a date? I'm not sure it's a network thing.” But the real improvisation starts when Katzberg’s emotionally-distant father dies, paralyzing her psyche and forcing her to confront her California-cool brother and erratic, prodigal sister. Dad in a Box, a darkly comedic, multi-character, semi-autobiographical, solo play, follows queer theater artist Kim Katzberg as she struggles to gain access to her emotional core, while processing the impending death of her abusive father. The story traces Katzberg’s efforts, through wildly inventive pieces in improv class, to prod and shock herself into facing and confronting her father’s emotional hold on her.
MORE ON DAD IN A BOX
Dad in a Box, a darkly comedic, multi-character, semi-autobiographical, multimedia solo play, follows queer theater artist Kim Katzberg’s struggle to gain access to her emotional core, while she attempts to process the just-announced impending death of her abusive father. The story follows Katzberg’s efforts, through wildly inventive pieces in improv class, to prod and shock herself into facing and confronting her father’s emotional hold on her.
The piece flashes back and forth between episodes in improv class - both onstage and in videos, oversized critiques of her acting work, and segments of the tragi-comic march to gather with her stoic brother and unstable sister at their father’s hospice. The play embodies her personal struggles with emotional paralysis, her efforts to access core feelings and become more real onstage, and the challenge to both be truthful to her father and express her inexplicable love for him. Low-fi video intertwined with live performance amplifies Katzberg’s psychological dissociation and shows the evolution of Katzberg as she struggles to let go of her dad while she tries to let go onstage.
The core of the show is meta-theatrical, exploring Katzberg’s multi-layered crisis of authenticity through her attempts to be “real” onstage. Katzberg appears deadened when she plays herself, yet electrically alive when she’s in character: transformed, both in the flesh and magnified on the screen, with wigs, costumes, and heightened physicality. The play weaves back and forth between these "roles".
Escaping through improvisational work, Katzberg embodies tragicomic characters starring in fantasy commercials. At first, the ads seem vaguely familiar, structured with typical uplift and sanitized soothing. Then they become both funny and disturbing, and finally deep and resonant. The commercials repeat throughout the play, offering avoidance and escape in the face of unresolved grief and loss. Their brightness and repetition parody American consumer culture, in which never-ending material distractions promise to fulfill internal emptiness.
This play expands on themes explored in Katzberg’s previous works: the experiences and perspectives of women, female oppression, the slippery nature of authentic identity, as well as psychological fragmentation and the drive toward integration. Katzberg has developed deep and complex female characters, and established a laser-focused story structure that gives voice to the #MeToo perspective. Dad in a Box is a personal tale that shines a light on the current climate of widespread, casual, even institutionally sanctioned patriarchal predation.