'The Year Before the Civil War' by Kate Mulley '16 Published in Issue 004 of 'The Dionysian'

November 20, 2017

The Year Before the Civil War, a play by alumna and staff member Kate Mulley '16 will be published in Issue 004 of The Dionysian, a new theatrical magazine that "aims to highlight emerging and established playwrights of all genres and backgrounds through a quarterly publication and online content." Issue 004 features work by female-identifying and non-binary artists and you can get it here. The play also received a reading last week at the Drama Book Shop.


We asked Kate about her play and future projects, this is what she told us:



What is The Year Before the Civil War about and what inspired you to write it? 


The Year Before the Civil War is a solo piece about a woman who imagines what would have happened if she had moved to Damascus the year before the beginning of the Syrian Civil War to follow a guy she loved. It juxtaposes taking an extreme romantic risk with unknowingly putting one’s life in danger. I often write historical plays and this play examines a contemporary situation through an almost historical lens. I’m interested in how war affects civilians and how a place that you’ve never been to can trigger different images in your head about what living there might be like. And how that changes as the story around that place changes.



Anything you want to tell us about The Dionysian? What does it mean for you to be published in this issue?  

The Dionysian is new. They publish plays and interviews with theater artists. It’s great to be included in this most recent issue, which is dedicated to female-identifying artists, alongside some writers I know and others I don’t. It’s a great collection of theatrical pieces.  


Are you working on any other projects right now? 


I’m writing the book and lyrics for Razorhurst, a musical about two female gang leaders in Sydney in the 1920s-40s. Andy Peterson is the composer and it was commissioned by Luna Stage in West Orange, NJ and will be produced there in February 2018. Andy and I are also collaborating on Outlaw, a musical about the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. We’re working with Columbia directing alum Benita de Wit '16. I’ve loved musical theatre since I was a kid, but this is my first real foray into musical theatre writing, so it’s been an exciting challenge. I’m also in the process of expanding The Year Before the Civil War into a full-length solo show. 



Kate Mulley is a playwright, librettist/lyricist, producer, dramaturg and founding member of Vox Theater. Her work has been performed in New York, Washington DC, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Alaska, London and Shanghai. "The plays that I write are often about women pushing against the confines of their circumstances. Whether they are Civil War-era widows with a desire to overcome grief and propriety, over-educated exhibitionists with a penchant for breaking the rules or teenagers stuck in a well (the first play I wrote was a Beckett-inspired short about a girl stuck in a well), these women peek beyond the curtain of what society expects of them and revel in the freedom and then await, and experience, the fallout. I write plays that are theatrical, yet subtle; that demand an engaged and intelligent audience, but don’t shy away from sensual or lowbrow moments. There may not be a happy ending, but there is always self-discovery and the knowledge that one cannot return to where one started," according to her artistic statement.