Beacon playwright debuts at festival

Kristin Battersby has never had to stash a manuscript into a drawer or move a digital document into a folder of oblivion. Instead, her first literary submission, IUD Play, was one of nine short works chosen from more than 100 to be included in the Glass Ceiling Breakers 3 festival that begins June 16 at the Philipstown Depot Theatre. On top of that, she is directing.

That the play wasn’t finished didn’t faze Battersby. She had plenty of ideas, some gleaned from her acting experience, others from her life.

Born and raised in Beacon, Battersby holds a bachelor’s degree in performance and technical theater from SUNY New Paltz, where she produced the student-led Fresh Act Short Play Festival, then placed as regional runner-up in the 2014 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

She began her professional career as a company manager at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, then headed to Los Angeles to produce educational media.

After many drafts of IUD Play — she remembers the first as “dismal” — Battersby had what she had envisioned. Along the way, she discovered that playwriting was “a happy medium — an opportunity to tell something in a miniature structure. It requires fine tuning; the beats are sharp, more so even than the story.”

Battersby used to write short films collaboratively with friends, but was “never able to find a way in. This festival was a way in.”

Nora Matz, a Garrison resident who is co-producing the festival, says “Kristin’s play is exactly the kind of topic and voice we’re trying to elevate.”

Once the writing spigot was turned on, Battersby kept journals to document story ideas and started jotting down “things people say that are fun. Everything was there; I just needed the spark to get it done, and also to enjoy getting it done.”

IUD Play is based loosely on “an experience I had getting my own IUD,” Battersby says. “A girl goes in for a normal procedure and, with no anesthetics, it is much more painful than expected.” Then it gets wilder: “In the latest version, the girl passes out, then goes to the metaphysical headquarters of planet Earth. She ends up in God’s office, so to speak. It’s clear that he’s been neglecting humanity. His supervisor comes in to do a performance review. The supervisor is female.

“This has been, top-to-bottom, a tremendous learning experience for me,” Battersby says. She’s finding the rapid rehearsal shifts, which require switching between director and playwright mode, invigorating. Her actors “have the tools, so it’s more about making sure they feel their instincts are on point.”

“So much of the writer’s process can be so mysterious, but now it feels demystified,” she says. “It’s so satisfying to see it through. I pushed myself to try something new and out of my depth and it’s paying off and feels wonderful.”

IUD Play will be presented three times over the June 16 weekend as part of a block of short plays. See philipstowndepottheatre.org.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Rooney has been writing for The Current since its founding in 2010. A playwright, she has lived in Cold Spring since 1999. She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she majored in history. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: Arts