PLAYWRIGHT, ONLINE MUSIC CORRESPONDENT AT HARPER'S BAZAAR UK
Written + Photographed By Kelley Mullarkey | Video Produced By Sean Stillmaker
By the age of eight I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. By 10 an actress and by 12 I bounced between a lawyer and a writer. When you ask children what they want to be when they grow up most say an astronaut, athlete, ballerina, president or an assortment of other enticing options.
Catherine, a London playwright and online music correspondent for Harper’s Bazaar UK, had a different dream. She didn’t want to blast off into outer space or become the next superhero. She wanted to be the first female poet laureate.
Endlessly multidimensional and eager to connect viewers and readers to human emotion through her work, Catherine transports them into a different dimension with her personal style as well, embodying a timeless and relatable approach.
I first met Catherine at a dinner in Soho, which the staff of Suitcase Magazine had invited me to. Over the course of the evening we debated Parisian culture (Catherine’s a fan, I still need more convincing) and discussed the cultural resurgence of theater. Over the course of our delightful conversational topics, Catherine mentioned she was a playwright. I was instantly intrigued and wanted to know more.
This sense of intrigue sent Sean and I trudging through a typical English summer, a mixture of a torrential downpour and frigid temperatures, to the countryside where Catherine currently resides.
Situated on the couch in her standard uniform, a vintage cashmere black jumper and black skinny jeans from American Apparel, Catherine told us she sort of just feel into playwriting.
“I really wanted to be a poet growing up. I wrote poems all the time. Then picked up the guitar and started songwriting. Lyricism is really important to me. I love sharing my ideas with people.”
The philosophy of music has been a staple firmly integrated into Catherine’s life.
“The words of Bob Dylan were passed down to me at an early age,” she explained.
Her dad left school at 16, hopped on a ship and went off to live in Kenya. His nomadic journey eventually landed him a position with EMI Music selling records door to door. He met Catherine’s mom, who was working at a record label, while overseas on a business trip.
Beginning with the cello and venturing on to form relationships with the piano, guitar and saxophone, Catherine has always created her own language through music and writing.
Half heartily, Catherine jokes her poetic dreams were crushed when Carol Ann Duffy was appointed the first female poet laureate.
At University of Exeter she studied English literature, got in touch with creative writing through a class taught by legendary journalist Phillip Hensher and hung out with the drama department’s actors and actresses.
When she was asked to be a musician for a friend’s play the director noticed her talent and asked her if she’d be interested in directing. It was during her time as a script editor for an adaptation of Dorian Gray that the idea came to her to write her own play.
By the time of graduation Catherine had written and put on two plays entitled Unframed and Confessional and landed herself a spot within the Royal Court Theatre on their prestigious Unheard Voices course for young playwrights.
There she wrote This is Our Kingdom, a story that explores mental illness and love, which was inspired while she was working in the marketing department at an NHS branch.
Much like her personal style, which revolves around strong staple pieces that speak for themselves, Catherine’s characters are the most important aspect of her work.
“I love writing about human relationships. Majority of my themes center on the juxtaposition of feeling and being trapped and trying to escape, a paradox we’re all familiar with.”
A common theme that parallels with fashion and our current culture, Catherine elaborates.” “Everyone wants to be very identifiable. But then be very individual. It’s an ongoing struggle fueled by social media and the need to brand oneself.”
Stylistically Catherine shies away from being too trend conscious, complicated outfits and proves heart and soul over money fuels sartorial originality of one’s own.
“My style isn’t very fashion forward. When people ask me where my favorite shop is I say, ‘my mother’s wardrobe.’ She’s always had a very classic outlook on style.”
Tasteful and inviting, Catherine’s wardrobe is like the perfect inner circle of friends. Each piece serves a purpose and withstands the test of time.
“The most important thing is about having staple pieces that you enjoy. The perfect pair of jeans, a great pair of shoes, a good coat, and a good cashmere jumper.”
Clever and charming, Catherine kind of does it all. She comfortably flirts with journalism while writing an (anti) dating tongue and cheek column for Suitcase Magazine, discovers musical talent online at Harper’s Bazaar UK and invokes human emotion on stage through her plays.
In a vintage blue velvet jumper, Evil Twin cosmic mesh cape and Acne pistol booties, Catherine’s unfiltered cool aesthetic and personality shines through.
“I always knew I was going to go into something creative. I don’t think I have the attention span to be scientific. You just have to figure out what suits you.”