Monday, December 11, 2023

Kat Sandler’s ‘Wildwoman’ kicks off Soulpepper’s Her Words Festival

Kat Sandler will direct her play “Wildwoman” at Soulpepper Theater Company this month.

Something wild is coming to Soulpepper Theater Company this month.

Written and directed by award-winning theater artist Kat Sandler, “Wildwoman” is a play based on the true story that inspired “Beauty and the Beast.” The show explores the lives of three women in the orbit of King Henry II – including Catherine de Medici – as they fight for survival in 16th century France.

“The story came out of the research,” Sandler said in an interview with “I went down a whole rabbit hole about it. 99.9 percent of the story is true — you just can’t make this stuff up.

Sandler says he became “obsessed” with the world of Catherine de Medici, who is called “Kitty” in the play.

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“She’s one of the baddest girls in OG history,” he says with a laugh.

“I like a female anti-hero. In my work, I’m always trying to figure out how we present stories where women behave as badly as the men we see as more watchable , like Dexter and Hannibal and (Macbeth). I’m not trying to absolve Kitty of these crimes she committed – the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, for example, and poisoning her enemies – but I’m trying to contextualize her struggle, and the struggle of the other two women in the play. as well.”

Sandler said that if his take on Catherine de Medici had a theme song, it would be Billie Eilish’s “bad guy,” which speaks to the overall tone of the play.

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This isn’t the first time Sandler has directed his own work, and he says he loves it.

“This is my preferred way of working,” he said.

“I really hate working in a vacuum, and I hate the writing process itself. The thing I love is getting into a room with people, and talking about something, and mixing it up into something new. Ultimately, the people in the cast and the designers are going to run the show. I want to create something where they feel the will of that — it’s a living, breathing experience we build together.

Sandler says that the biggest discovery from working on “Wildwoman” is his own thoughts on good versus evil – and the play often deals with that schism.

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“There are no real clear villains and heroes, ever,” he said. “I try to write people who make choices, and exist, rather than serving the purpose of being a tool in a story. I like living in the gray area. I don’t want it to be easy.

“We’re making progress in terms of women’s work, and women’s role in society,” she continued, “but we’re not that far yet.”

“Wildwoman” kicks off Soulpepper Theater Company’s Her Words Festival, opening for previews Oct. 5 and running through Oct. 29. Tickets are available on the Soulpepper website.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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