Photo by Alice Marshall.
In her writing, Cathy Tempelsman is drawn to hidden figures and events from history. Her first full-length work, A Most Dangerous Woman, is based on the remarkable, little-known life of George Eliot and was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. The script was also a finalist for the Terrence McNally New Play Award (given to an American work that “celebrates the transformative power of art”) and the Francesca Primus Playwriting Prize, and had its world premiere at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. During a residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, in California, Tempelsman worked on The Eleventh Hour, based on a highly partisan investigation into fighting on the last day of World War I. The script combines fictional characters with real figures of the period; much of the controversial testimony comes from hearings, largely unknown today, of the 66th Congress. She is currently also working on an Individual Artist Grant/Commission from NYSCA (the New York State Council for the Arts) to develop another play, As You Loathe It, into a full-length work. Written in rhymed (heroic) couplets, the script was originally produced by Stageworks/Hudson as part of its Short Play Festival. In the play, a love letter to the humanities, William Shakespeare spars with a bitter, envious Kit Marlowe.
Tempelsman’s other one-act plays have been seen in various theaters. Both Dog Days and Missing were produced by Luna Stage as part of its New Moon Short Play Festival. Missing, published by Smith and Kraus (12th Annual Boston Theater Marathon Anthology), was produced at Boston Playwrights Theatre and New York’s Barrow Group, which also presented her monologue, A Blessing on Your Sole. In recent years, in addition to her Djerassi residency, she has been a guest artist at the Kennedy Center’s Playwriting Intensive, part of its American College Theatre Festival; a contributor to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, in Tennessee; and a guest lecturer at the International George Eliot Conference (University of Warwickshire, UK). Prior to writing plays, she worked in marketing and planning for The Wall Street Journal and wrote a book, Child-Wise (William Morrow), then spent several years teaching English. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Vineyard Gazette and Coastal Living. Tempelsman, a member of the Dramatists Guild, graduated from Vassar College and has both M.B.A. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University. She and her husband, Leon, have three children and live in New York City.