Kate Berlant on the Journey of ‘Kate’

After performing her one-woman show “Kate” to much success in New York and London, Kate Berlant is finally back home in Los Angeles, in the midst of a run in her own town. Which means that, on show days, her routine is its most laid-back yet. 

“In an ideal world,” she says, “I do essentially nothing. I had a great day the other day where I went to the sauna and did a cold plunge, and that’s the dream, but that’s happened exactly once.”

Realistically, she focuses on sleeping, eating something healthy and generally laying low until it’s time to drive to the Pasadena Playhouse. 

She describes her show-mode schedule as “truly heaven.”

“I feel like my only real responsibility is to do a good show every night,” she says. “The world becomes very simple.”

Kate Berlant

Kate Berlant

Daniel Dorsa/WWD

“Kate,” directed by Bo Burnham, opened at the Pasadena Playhouse on Jan. 17 following two sold-out runs in New York and London this past year. Pasadena marks her biggest crowd to date, with more than 600 people each night, many of whom are long-standing subscribers of the theater who have little to no knowledge of Berlant or her brand of comedy prior to taking in the show. 

“There’s a lot of older people that are coming every night, which at first I was like, ‘oh, will they like the show?’ And they’ve loved it,” she says. “I’m seeing older people laughing in my front row every night. It makes me so happy.”

Berlant started on “Kate,” which is her first piece of theater, roughly two years ago, writing it by performing it. It began in L.A., where Berlant workshopped it at The Elysian theater for around seven months before taking it to New York. The Sunday performance at the Pasadena Playhouse is set to be the show’s last, though Berlant notes the show’s future is actively in discussion.

“What I know is I love doing the show and it still feels very alive for me, and I would like to kind of quit doing it while it still feels that way,” she says.

The intensity of a one-woman show has the same pros and cons: the best thing is that “everyone’s attention is on you,” and that’s also the worst part of it, too, she says. “So it’s really, if someone doesn’t like it, they just kind of frankly don’t like you,” Berlant says. “Which is also OK.”

“Kate” has emerged as L.A.’s must-see cultural fix this winter, with its opening party drawing a who’s-who of Hollywood: Molly Shannon, Olivia Wilde, Alana Haim, Hannah Einbinder, Abbi Jacobson, Rashida Jones, Maya Rudolph, Nathan Fielder, Kyle Mooney and more. 

Kate Berlant

Kate Berlant

Daniel Dorsa/WWD

“It was an amazing night. I mean, I was overwhelmed to see people like Molly Shannon and Maya Rudolph and all these comedy heroes. I mean, the other night, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig were there. It’s been totally surreal for me in that regard,” Berlant says. “But the truth is, I felt like it was my wedding or something in a way where I couldn’t quite access the reality of it or the emotion of it. It was just so surreal.”

While at work on “Kate,” she’s had other ideas emerge for another project, but nothing is certain yet. But the show has given her the theater bug, she says. 

“There’s always a couple of things that I’m working on or thinking about,” she says. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do something in a totally different direction or anything — maybe I shouldn’t say that. But I’m a standup,  and now I know this is my first time really doing theater and I love doing it.”

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