Jed: Katie Gould. Where are you from?
Katie: I’m from a town just outside Philadelphia. It’s part of the Lower Merion Township.
Jed: Were you a “play” kid?
Katie: I was. I definitely did all the plays in elementary and middle school and actually it was when I was in middle school that I started professionally acting. I started auditioning for things at the Walnut and the Arden. I had a manager sending me off for commercial work. I got cast as one of two young women in a professional children’s theatre company that performed at, you know, the owner of the Eagle’s house or the steps of the Art Museum for a big gala. We would do these mash-up musical theatre numbers. We did a show called Ballad for Americans and it was a historical show for kids to come see. But I was into it. I went to theatre camp and did that whole thing.
Jed: Have you had moments since when you’ve thought, “I don’t want to do theatre right now.”
Katie: Not intentionally. I’ve either stopped because I couldn’t afford to perform or because I was committed to a relationship that didn’t have space for theatre. I didn’t consciously make the decision, but theatre would be the thing that would sometimes fall off. Never for a full year or anything. I moved to NYC to do theatre in 2010. After college after being in Louisville for a year working at Actor’s Theatre as an apprentice, and a really successful year of theatre work in Philadelphia, I had this feeling like, maybe I should try it. I should move to NYC. And it was disastrous. I got two fitness jobs and no theatre work. I took a great class with Austin Pendleton and learned so much, but didn’t get any work at all. That’s when I applied to APT. I was getting filmed, taking meetings, all that stuff, but it was not for me.
Jed: Had you made stuff before APT, or was it all straight theatre and musicals?
Katie: In college I got one of two spots to do SITI Company training and started doing Suzuki with them and Anne Bogart. In the summer and in the school year I was training intensively with them and making pieces with my best friend Adam. In my senior year of college I made my first full piece. I wrote, performed and produced a one-woman show about the disappearances in Argentina, using my Suzuki SITI experience and also my Latin American studies history knowledge, as a theatre and Latin American studies major. Then I made a piece with a bunch of my colleagues about various female artists. It was very avant-garde and very physical theatre-y and just a mash-up of different images. After college I did the apprenticeship in Louisville. They don’t really make original work, but I was cast in a show with The Civilians, and, you know, they’re creators but it’s definitely more script-based. They are into a lot of community-driven work, so I started getting interested in that. I started a theatre company with my friend Jenny Jacobs called Iris and we created a very sweet piece for the Prague International Festival. We built it over eight days in an apartment in Prague before we performed it. All of that was before I went to NYC. Everything was great in Philly! I was doing regional theatre, I started a company, I made a one-woman show called The Girl in the Yellow Dress that was a big hit in the Fringe Festival. I was writing and creating so much stuff and then it all just stopped because of a bad relationship. I spent the next ten months being like, “Why don’t I have work? Why is the work I have so lame? Where did everybody go?” The Prague show ended, we all came home, and all the momentum died. That’s when I made the decision to go to NYC.
Jed: How did you decide to go to APT?
Katie: I saw my first Pig Iron show when I was 17 — Gentlemen Volunteers — and I wanted to work for them ever since. I loved everything about them and everything they did. I’d heard some whispers about them opening a school and I’d been applying to MFA programs for a couple years. I was waiting for the right program and everything about it seemed right. I was also looking for a reason to come home. It was my guiding light getting me out of NYC.
Jed: Were there certain bad experiences in NYC?
Katie: You know, I just didn’t know shit about shit. I would go to a meeting in the totally wrong outfit. I would leave Philadelphia after a terrible date with my boyfriend to go to some open call where I’d sit for eight hours and never be seen. I would go to an audition I should have nailed and instead sounded nervous and just knew as soon as I walked out that it wasn’t going to happen. It was brutal. It was like getting smacked in the face. It wasn’t any one thing. It was the combination of a horrible break-up and also thinking something was going to be so successful and righteous then it just wasn’t. But also it was amazing. I made great friends. I biked everywhere. I became a triathlete. I did the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, which was my first. I went from Alcatraz to San Francisco!
Jed: Was that when you started doing training stuff?
Katie: No, I’d started before then, but that was when I started endurance training myself. I started working as a personal trainer in 2008. I’d come back from Louisville and needed a side job, but I didn’t want to be a server. I’d always been an athlete — I always played every sport. I had a trainer when I was in high school and learned a lot from him. I thought it was something I was intuitively good at. I’m able to look at bodies and see what their strengths and deficiencies are. I was super interested in anatomy and physiology.
Jed: Are there interesting intersections you’ve found between theatre and training?
Katie: Absolutely. Every time I learn something new — how I’m tight or open or weak or strong in my own body, it’s obviously affecting my tone and my vulnerability or my lack of. I always talk about clown in yoga. I’m like, “Look. I don’t think it’s your fault that you can’t get your arms straight or that you’re bad at yoga. It’s part of the mask you wear; the armor that you’ve built. You should embrace it. You’ve lived a life of protracted and rounded shoulders.” It might mean one thing to me in an aesthetic body way, but it can also mean so much more. I’m here to help you understand it and also give you tools to try on a different costume for a while. And maybe it feels good or maybe it feels terrible, but if it feels terrible it might be because you need to go there. It might be a place you’ve been avoiding and your body and mind have needed to go there for a very very long time. It’s really important to understand the body in order to understand people. Looking at people’s bodies will tell you a lot about who they are. Having both kinds of training makes me sensitive to that. It also makes me aggressive. It makes me feel like, “Ooo. We can do something with this. This needs to be dealt with. You just need awareness.”
Jed: We’re making a play about the future. Do you have any dreams or hopes for the future?
Katie: My own or for the future of humanity?
Jed: Let’s do your own future. Do you have any artistic dreams?
Katie: It’s something to do with confidence and leadership. I have a lot of good ideas, and I have a hard time expressing them. I have a hard time verbalizing what I want to see. I have anxiety about being in charge because when I was growing up I was quick to be in charge and tell people what to do and I ended up in a career where I tell people what to do. It makes me feel like people think I’m bossy or too aggressive. People use the word “intense” when they talk about me and that makes me feel bad. I have a hard time stepping up when I want to because I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the intense, bossy person.
Jed: I’m the total opposite of that. I’m a just shy person, and I’m starting to embrace it. Maybe you could try embracing that you want to speak up.
Katie: I’m learning about that now. That’s why my goal for the future is to learn that I am a good leader and just try to hone my skills as a leader rather than worrying about not being the leader. As a follower I will produce good material, but often it’s helping somebody else with their vision, which is really important, but you know, I also have some crazy ideas and I want people to play in my world. Some really fun, exciting things come up in my world, but I have to invite people in in order for that to happen.
Jed: Do you have any specific projects in mind?
Katie: I would like to do a project about things like this — like militant aggressive fitness.
Jed: We’re sitting next to a Cross Fit.
Katie: Yeah, like the addiction and the ferocity that people are now approaching fitness and endurance and masochist work with. People are like, “If I’m going to be fit, I’m going to be a monster.” There is no moderate fitness anymore. There’s something about killing yourself that’s appealing and sexy to people right now. It’s very American: Go big or go home. People only understand progress through numbers and expansion and the only way to get better is to do more of it. People also see community. Like, if everyone is doing a marathon then you’ll do it too. There isn’t a huge community around moderate fitness. I fit into the category of someone who goes big or goes home, but I’m also learning how to counter-act that. I’d like to make a piece that starts there as a way to go in somewhere. I’d like to do something hard with bodies and really push people and be like, “You like that? Let’s do it and let’s do it and let’s do it.” I’d like to put someone on a bike for, like seven hours in front of an audience and see what comes up. I find it very emotional.
Jed: I bet Aram would do that.
Katie: Aram would totally do that. I want to rent a gym and lead people through different rooms and see the weird ways people work out together, just see what comes out. It could be very homoerotic. The mirrors and just people staring. . . The things you say to yourself and to each other can be really inspiring and also really demeaning. The words could be very telling, but also the way you work out. Some people go to the gym for four hours but only work out for twenty minutes. They’re just walking around, they go out, they come back with a meal. It’s a weird culture.
Jed: I’d go see that play. Is there anything else you want to say?
Katie: I’m so glad you guys are here.
Jed: I’m glad we’re here too.