Moira, Kate 1965–

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Moira, Kate 1965–

(Kate Moira Ryan)


Born July 8, 1965; partner of Laurie Liss; children: Timothy. Education: Studied at New Dramatists.


Home—Brooklyn, NY. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


Writer and playwright. Worked as literary manager for Three Dollar Bill, a gay and lesbian theatre company.


Young Playwrights Festival winner, 1985; GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York Theater, 2007, and Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance, 2006, both for Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother; New York Foundation for the Arts Grant; Sumner Locke Elliott Exchange, New Dramatists, to the Australian National Playwright's Conference; Van Lier Fellowship, the Women's Project; Yaddo Fellowship; MacDowell Fellowship; Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship; Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship; New Play Festival Fellowship, International Theatre Development (two-time recipient); Brook Atkinson/Max Weitzenhoffer Fellowship; Joseph A. Callway Award; Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist.


Cavedweller, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 2004.

Otma: A Drama, Playscripts (New York, NY), 2006.

(With Judy Gold) Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother (book based on play), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

Author of plays, Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother, with Judy Gold, produced in New York, NY; G-d Doesn't Pay Rent Here, with Judy Gold, produced at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York, NY; and The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, an adaptation of three novels by Ann Bannon, with Linda Chapman, produced in New York, NY. Also author of the Kate Moira Ryan blog.


Kate Moira is an author and playwright whose scripts have been produced in New York, Montreal, Russia, and elsewhere. In 1985, she won a Young Dramatist's contest, which launched her career as a playwright. She is the recipient of many writing fellowships, such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship and the Arnold Weinberger Fellowship. Moira has also been a resident at a number of prestigious writers' colonies and retreats, including Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Edward Albee Foundation. Moira has also studied at the New Dramatists workshop, where she was a resident playwright.

Two of Moira's dramatic works have been adaptations of novels by prominent female writers. The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, written with Linda Chapman, is an adaptation of three novels by Ann Bannon, a writer of popular novels in the 1950s who garnered the title "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction," reported Kia Corthron on Brooklyn Rail. The play was staged in September, 2007, in Manhattan.

Cavedweller, an adaptation of the novel by Dorothy Allison, premiered in New York and was published in 2004. In the play, main protagonist Delia Byrd is a Janis Joplin-like former rock star who faces a return to her judgmental Georgia hometown, the rural burg of Cayro. Delia, who was once the lead singer of the group Mud Dog, is a hard-partying rocker who has lived a life of excess. Now, the band has disintegrated after the death of the band's star (and father of Delia's daughter, Cissy) in a motorcycle crash. Feeling the heavy effects of middle age and tragedy, Delia decides to return to Cayro and reconnect with the daughters she left behind fourteen years earlier when she abandoned them, and her husband, for life on the road with Mud Dog.

Though her best friend, Rosemary, advises her against returning, Delia goes back to Georgia. "Sure enough, the God-fearing rednecks of Cayro are scandalized by the return of the prodigal daughter, and do everything but stone her when she dares to show her ‘adulterous hippie bitch’ face in town," reported Marilyn Stasio in a Daily Variety review. Delia's former husband, dying of cancer, is not so harsh; he agrees to concede custody of Cissy and the couple's other daughters, Dede and Amanda, if Celia agrees to help nurse him through his final days. Over the next five years, Celia tries to reconnect with eldest daughter Dede, a wild child consumed by alcohol and sex; Amanda, who has sought solace in fundamental Christianity; and Cissy, aloof and introspective, who prefers spending time in the local caves to interacting with humans.

Other significant works by Moira have been in collaboration with comic and performer Judy Gold. G-d Doesn't Pay Rent Here, was produced at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, NY. Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run and a nationwide tour. The play served as a vehicle for Gold's comedy and dramatic performance, and was adapted into a book published by Hyperion in 2007. The play is based on a series of interviews that Gold and Moira conducted with Jewish mothers from various parts of the United States. Through the lens of the twenty-five prepared questions, which varied from person to person, Moira and Gold discovered the inner thoughts, dreams, aspirations, and characteristics of real Jewish mothers, sometimes in contrast to prevailing stereotypes, sometimes providing the nugget of truth that allows the stereotypes to persist.

Otma: A Drama, written by Moira as a solo work, premiered in New York City, and centers on the last days of the four daughters of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, who was murdered in 1918 by Bolshevik revolutionaries. To pass the time during their stressful imprisonment, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Romanov read, rehearse, and perform Chekov's play The Cherry Orchard. As the play progresses, the doomed women argue and reconcile, and experience emotional extremes as they lose hope for survival and suddenly regain confidence again. The play portrays the importance of family bonding even during times when all seems hopeless.



Advocate, May 13, 2003, Gerard Raymond, "Mother and Child Reunion: Lesbian Mom and Playwright Kate Moira Ryan Talks about Transforming Dorothy Allison's Cavedweller from Page to Stage," interview with Kate Moira Ryan, p. 65.

Daily Variety, May 12, 2003, Marilyn Stasio, review of Cavedweller, p. 14; February 6, 2006, Mark Blankenship, "Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother," profile of Judy Gold, p. 10.

New York Times, May 19, 2003, Bruce Weber, "The Power of Sisterhood in the Rural South," review of Cavedweller, p. E5.

Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2007, review of Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother, p. 82.

Variety, February 13, 2006, Mark Blankenship, "Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother," profile of Judy Gold, p. 71.

ONLINE, (April 10, 2008), author profile.

Brooklyn Rail, (April 10, 2008), Kia Corthron, "Lesbian Pulp Fiction: The Beebo Brinker Chronicles," interview with Linda S. Chapman and Kate Moira Ryan.

CurtainUp, (May 8, 2003), Elyse Sommer, review of Cavedweller.

Kate Moira Ryan Home Page, (April 10, 2008)., (April 10, 2008), author profile.