With the annual Andromeda’s Sisters Arts & Advocacy Gala for her arts and educational organization Neo-Political Cowgirls around the corner on June 10, we sat down with the ever-fascinating, wise and wild woman Kate Mueth.
Andromeda’s Sisters started as theatrical production in Montauk under the constellations, a revised version of the Andromeda myth. In the original, a jealous god, Poseidon, chains a young beauty, Andromeda (who never speaks), to a rock to be eaten by a giant sea creature. She is saved by — wait for ii — a man, Perseus.
But Mueth decided to flip the script. Andromeda doesn’t know about any savior and instead speaks to the sea monster who is female and suggests they should be aligned against Poseidon. And Poseidon’s daughters, instead of jeering at Andromeda who was supposedly a superior beauty, swim to help rescue her (take that, evil step sisters!).
Tell us about your take on this myth and how it relates to the current performances you showcase at the event.
I like putting the pen in someone else’s hand, for the story that we don’t usually hear. Too often it’s all about the men, even if it starts with a woman. Andromeda and Cassiopeia, her mother, in the original story, were royalty in Ethiopia, so we cast Black actresses and created them as refugees. The concept about women helping women, even when women are supposed to be in competition, is the core of the story and of the current work we showcase. If our empathy muscle and wide-thinking muscle can become more activated and engaged, I think we would all find a lot more joy and success and support for one another.
Female rage is rampant across humanity and yet historically in myths and movies the woman is portrayed as the crazy person (cue the rabbit in the pot). Yet there is nothing as satisfying as female rage when it gets justice. How can women avoid being put in the “crazy” or “she’s a bitch” category? How do women get men to listen and understand and shift?
Women get to that point of rage based on betrayal and not being heard, respected, or validated in our own society or stories. It brings us deeper into the land where men write it off as hysteria. It is inherently dismissed by men (and women who have internalized misogyny) because it requires too much of us via understanding and compassion. It’s easier to put that rage in a box and dismiss it, but there’s a lot of broken stuff in that box. The swing side of that pendulum is the broken patriarchy where men have been told routinely not to feel, that it is unmanly to show emotion or cry or express love. But there are also beautiful men, wise men, and open-hearted men that have a lot to add to the conversation.
Andromeda’s Sisters features women of different generations. We think of the cycle of life of women as maiden, mother, and crone and yet in our society the crone is usually the least understood and venerated. What do you think of the notion that women are supposed to age gracefully?
Once I hit 40 and 50, I learned not to give a fuck anymore. I say what I am going to say and won’t put on a mask to please everyone else. Beauty as an accepted societal norm, to only look in a certain way is part of patriarchal society, but old women are gloriously beautiful. There’s a trade-off of “I am going to hand you my youth and hot body for my spirit and soul and freedom.” Actually, they can co-exist.
And who is defining graceful? Is it to be full of fear and don’t eat and stuff your face with Botox? Let our faces and bodies be the map of all that we have done and loved and created. For me, I am going to go, sliding with a grass stain on my ass, knocking my teeth on the curb, my hair frizzled, screaming at the top of my voice and laughing, probably with my skirts flying over my head and my yoni flapping out. I call that graceful because it is truth and honesty to myself in the glory of my highest expression. And thank God I get to age, because I know too many dead kids.
Given the importance of conversation, we are living at one of the most divided times in this country in its history. People have gone into their own silos of communication and information. Remember when Walter Cronkite read the news? There was an agreed-upon reality. How do you break out of an echo chamber to reach others?
It would be different if people could sit in the stew of mixed positions if there weren’t people out there killing people because they are Black or LGBTQ or immigrants. Or endangering women because they want reproductive rights. People are seriously in danger. If we all entrench then no one is able to come together and listen and be in conversation. It’s why the humanities and the arts are so important to our education and community — for the exchange of ideas and a place where we can listen and think and wonder. The arts aren’t going to come and kill you, but they may make you think about your place in this story.
An important question to ask is what do you fear most? At the essence of hate is fear. Who is this person across from me and what is their history? If we could look at the fear honestly, I think we could at least respect each other even if we didn’t agree.
On a note of fun and joy, what is your favorite dance song to let loose to?
Anything ’80s: Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads. I get why, because it takes me out of the present day and transports me to a different place. We all need that. There is a proverb where a depressed person goes to a village doctor and the first question is, “Well, when was the time you stopped dancing?” In a dream a beloved Scottish actress came to me and said the key is to frolic the body frequently.
Speaking of good men, what do you like best about your husband, fellow artist, producer, director, and performer Josh Gladstone?
Josh will walk into a room and have nothing to do with anything, and will help. He thinks it is unmanly to do otherwise. We talk about our belief in the concept of honor as husband and wife and just best friends. I love his forearms — he has very sexy forearms. I love his brilliant brain in the realm of higher thinking — conversations about art and politics, human nature. He is kind. He is a fighter — and he can hold all of me and my brokenness and it doesn’t scare him. I am fortunate to have him as my best friend.
If you could wave a magic wand what would you wish for the East End community?
I want the silos down. I want people to feel safe and welcome — and to show up to the arts more often and be in conversation. I hope if you come to the show that it inspires you to write that play or run for office or to give a little more grace to other women in your life. I am excited by people and their stories and I hope our kids will have curiosity instilled in them, that they will have the muscle of imagination. That’s the magic wand I want to wave.
Andromeda’s Sisters Arts & Advocacy Gala
Tickets are available now for the seventh annual Andromeda’s Sisters Arts and Advocacy gala, presented by The Neo-Political Cowgirls, and being held from 4 to 6 PM on June 10.
This year’s theme “What Does It Mean To Be Safe In America?” investigates the issue of safety for migrants, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC maternal and infant mortality. Julie Ratner of the Ellen Hermanson Foundation is the 2023 honoree, and the event offers up monologues by Jenny Lyn Bader, Paula Vogel, Lynn Grossman, and other talent, plus food, drink, a VIP panel, and an environmental performance by The Neo-Political Cowgirls in the gardens at the Lieber Collection in Springs.
“We are thrilled to have this line-up of talent, panelists, and garden goodness,” said NPC’s founder Kate Mueth. Panelists include Obie-winner and trans activist Pooya Mohseni, actress Blythe Danner, Rahma Soliman of the United Nations International Organization for Migrants, Dr. Florence Rolston, OB/GYN, and Laurie DeJong of LDJ Productions.
“We look forward to this year’s Andromeda’s Sisters as we celebrate women of creativity and courage and honor the phenomenal work of Julie Ratner of the Ellen Hermanson Foundation,” said Mueth.
Andromeda’s Sisters is sponsored by East End Acupuncture. Wine is provided by Wölffer, beer is from Kidd Squid, and the event is catered by The Cookery.
“Everyone who believes the arts are imperative for building the world we wish to see, anyone who needs some inspiration and networking with creative and impactful humans, people who love and appreciate the work of The Neo-Political Cowgirls, anyone needing to feel some hope in the world, folks passionate about women and wishing to support our efforts, young people wishing to be part of a company that includes their voices and perspectives, Andromeda’s Sisters is for all of us,” Mueth said.
Tickets are available at npcowgirls.org.