By Alexandra Fileccia
“Characters: Harold- Early fifties, father of Tuesday.
Tuesday- Early twenties, daughter of Harold.
…Pause. Tuesday has finished folding the laundry. She puts it into a basket. She takes another basket, walks over to a washer, and pulls out Harold’s clothes. She carries the basket to the dryer center stage and puts the clothes in. She presses a button. There’s a buzz. Harold jumps in his wheelchair.
Harold: Can you stop that noise?
Tuesday: It’ll only buzz once more. I promise.
Harold: It scares me.
Tuesday: I know—I know it does.
Tuesday: Do you want me to watch with you?
Harold: If you want to.
Tuesday: I would”
-(MacCormack, “Spin Cycle”)
It was 8:30 in the morning—an hour before she would leave for her first day of her senior year of high school. She was still asleep when she heard her mom scream from outside. “Kim, get a pillow!” her mother yelled at her. She awoke startled, not knowing what was going on, and grabbed a pillow as she was ordered. She followed her mother to where she initially screamed and found her dad face-first on the ground.
Kimberly MacCormack spent the first day of school at home. She visited her father in the hospital for a little but demanded her brother drive her home. It was too painful to see her dad like that; he had suffered from a stroke. How many 17-year-olds have been through that all before the school day began?
With no health insurance, her mother was struggling to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills for a husband who she was divorcing. Her brother Connor had to drop out of college to take care of her dad. All while this was happening, her other brother Ryan was in Georgia at military boot camp. She didn’t want to deal with it anything that was going on, so she simply didn’t. She went to school and she did what was good for her—she acted like everything was fine and ignored the situation. MacCormack later remarked that she felt like a very selfish person.
That Christmas, her parents got divorced and her dad moved out. MacCormack didn’t really see him that often because she didn’t have the nerve or the guts to visit him in the hospital.
Then, there was a bright spot in all of the darkness: Kimberly MacCormack received her acceptance letter for Emerson College as a theatre studies major. But as if the universe hadn’t punished her enough, she didn’t receive enough financial aid to go, so she had to defer a year. MacCormack’s heart was broken. The very thing she wanted most was waved in front of her and then snatched away in an instant; a tease.
She openly explained how painful that year was. It the worst time in her entire life. She went into a deep depression. However, during this period, she did a lot of writing.
“I have a hard time really owning up to my emotions as they’re happening so a way for me to be able to deal with that and mask it with language and images that really have nothing to do with me is through writing,” MacCormack told me as we sat down in my Piano Row common room.
A product of all of the pain was a play she wrote called “Spin Cycle.” It is about a father and a daughter in a Laundromat after the father just had a stroke. The daughter is taking care of him and “reconciling the present by going back into the past.” The play is basically the story of her father and her struggle to come to terms with the fact that he had a stroke. It was, as she says, a way for her to work through the things that she couldn’t do in person.
“Spin Cycle” is the third play in a series of three that Rareworks Theatre Company selected to produce. The other two consist of another 10-minute play and a monologue all surrounding the common theme of memory. All together, the series is titled “The World Forgetting” taken from the Alexander Pope poem “Eloisa to Abelard.”
MacCormack then began to recite perfectly from memory as she nodded her head to the poem’s meter:
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.
Though there have been many struggles in her past, she does not feel bitter about anything in her childhood. Every question I asked her during the interview circled back to how blessed she is that she had such a beautiful life. She’s very grateful to have grown up in Dover, Massachusetts, a privileged, upper-middle-class town about 25 minutes outside of Boston.
When I asked her if she considered herself a strong person for dealing with issues that most young adults have trouble dealing with, she laughed and started, “I don’t know if I’m strong, or if I’m just stupid and stubborn. I don’t really know the difference.”
She gave nervous giggle. How could a 19-year-old girl who has been through so much in one year of her life say something like that?
So, I asked her what she thought it meant to be a strong person.
“I think love makes you strong and so to allow yourself to have that sort of strength you need to open yourself up. To be vulnerable is the opposite of what people think is being strong, but I think I’m realizing more and more that your ability to be vulnerable is your ability to be strong,” she eloquently said with passion in her voice.
She was surer of this answer than the previous. If being vulnerable is being strong, then Kimberly MacCormack is a strong individual. She is an open book. If people ask her something about her life, she will almost always tell them the truth about whatever they wanted to know. She believes that people need to know her past to understand how she is today.
Her writings about her life contribute to her open, up-front personality. Not only does she write plays, she writes poetry too. She is a writer for Emerson’s online literary magazine The Catharsis for which she writes a poem every month based on the issues selected topic. I can see why she writes for a magazine by this name because in truth and based on everything she has said, writing is a cathartic experience.
“In my poetry, I always talk to that universal you, you know what I’m talking about; that pretentious, universal you that you are always talking to? Everyone’s always trying to figure out who that is,” said MacCormack as if she were reciting a monologue, with no hesitation.
All of her writing is based off of her real life experience or feelings in some way. She has written many 10-minute plays and monologues and even if they don’t specifically reflect a time in her life, they express a feeling that she had at a moment in time. Writing is the way she expresses herself.
“I am constantly thinking through metaphors,” said MacCormack. She took a second to collect her thoughts then added, “Oh my god, that sounded so pretentious,” burying her made-up face in her hands as her dark brown hair fell over her arms.
As a young girl, MacCormack was quite the storyteller. She would make up fantastical stories about performing on stage with Barbie and owning mini dolphins and sharks in her pond. When she reached middle school, she realized that she could write these stories down and that there was an actual craft to what she had been doing her whole life. Growing up, she had gone to many of her mother’s community theatre rehearsals. She credits her mom as the person who sparked her interest in theatre and playwriting.
Being selected as a freshman by Rareworks Theatre Company is a big deal. MacCormack says she is lucky that they liked her work. Putting yourself out there is always a gamble. Some people will like you and some people will not. She is not afraid of showing people who she is or what she has to offer. A lot of people are afraid of rejection, but since MacCormack has been rejected from so many things that she’s wanted to do in her life, including being rejected from the theatre program at her private arts high school, she is just completely desensitized to it. She jokes about all of the sports teams she has been rejected from as a kid. She is not the sports type of girl if you could not tell already.
MacCormack just directed a play called “Lovers,” one of two plays in the Irish double-bill performed during St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Emerson’s Cabaret. During this time, she worked closely with the assistant stage manager of the production, Matthew Pierleoni.
Pierleoni, a theatre studies major at Emerson College, met MacCormack toward the end of October 2011, but worked professionally with her for the first time during the production of the two Irish themed plays.
“At times, [MacCormack] would get carried away with being so excited about a work that she gets off track,” said the freshman assistant stage manager, adding, “She’s just one of those creative minds that once it starts, it just keeps going and going.”
Though MacCormack has been through a lot in her life, Pierleoni says she does not drag personal matters into her directing as she does in her writing. He praises her as a director, saying the cast of “Lovers” had a deep respect for her. MacCormack does not play up the power entitled to a director, she considers herself on the same level with the whole cast—a peer.
“Her biggest flaw is that she can be too hard on herself,” said Pierleoni with a smirk, “and that can make it hard for her to see how great of a person she is.”
She reinforced this by avoiding eye contact with the camera during our interview while she talked about herself. Though the cast and crew of “Lovers” give her high praise, she does not take their compliments well—she brushes them off and directs the attention away from herself.
While her confidence may not be the greatest, she doesn’t let it get in the way of her ambitions.
Recently, MacCormack finished another 10-minute play and is working on longer forms of plays. Her goal is to write a full-length play. In the future, she would love to be a theatre teacher, but her ultimate goal is to be an artistic director of a theatre company.
Writing will always be a part of Kimberly MacCormack’s life. It has gotten her through the toughest times and continues to help her grow as a person. At only age 19, she knows more about herself than most people do at her age.
“I write for me, because if I’m not writing for me, then why the fuck am I writing?” she laughs, “Like, what am I going to write about if it’s not something that I want to read, it’s not something that means something to me, it’s not a question that I want an answer to?”