Ari Erlbaum

Kaitlyn Shaw

Katelyn Shaw is a theater major at NVU Johnson. She answered each (often already weird) question with about five different answers that spiraled off in completely unpredictable directions. We covered a diverse spread of topics, from dinosaurs to diarrhea, Catholicism to bear claws.

What do you like about theatre?
I’ve always said that it’s fun just to learn about myself. But also it’s fun when the audience claps for me. I’m like, “yay, thanks! Did a good job.” It’s just fun. I don’t know. I get, uh, nervous diarrhea.

Nervous diarrhea?
Yeah, I have IBS. And sometimes I get nervous and I get diarrhea. I think I get it from my dad. He said that when he was younger, before hockey games, he would get really nervous and he’d have to poop before. I inherited that trait.
All my friends know I talk about poop a lot. I’m like, oh god, the show is starting and then I’m like, “Okay, does anyone have to use the secret bathroom? Because I’m gonna go poop in there?” And they’re like, “Okay, you got it. Go.” Every show I’ve got to poop at least one time before.

Does it get any better as you’ve done more theater?
Not really. I think it depends on the show. If I’m really nervous about it or if I feel like I don’t know my lines well enough.
Sometimes I’ll realize once they call places that I haven’t pooped yet. And then I’ll be like, “Oh god. All right, I’ll just use it to fuel me. That will be my drive.”
Everyone knows too. They’re like, “Did you poop yet? You should probably poop now.”

It’s good that you’re supported.
They just don’t want me to fart on stage. That’s it. I know what they’re after.

Has that ever happened?
Silently, for sure. But I’m controlled.

Has anything else bad ever happened on stage?
Brigadoon. Brigadoon was really bad. It’s a Scottish musical.
First of all, I can’t really do Scottish accent, but they made me do one anyway. I was playing a 40-year-old woman. There were people in the cast that were that age, but they put me there. They always do this to me.
This was at the Hyde Park Opera House. Both my solos were patter songs. They had a lot of words and they didn’t really change form. It was just, verse, verse, verse, verse and then we’re done. With the same rhythms and a bunch of Scottish names.
There was a song that I knew I didn’t know very well. I’m on stage, and we’re going through the song. And I’m like, first verse, done. Second verse, done. I get to the third verse and I start singing the first verse again. And I had very specific blocking for it. And in my head I was like, “Oh my god, they’ve already heard this, but I’m doing the wrong blocking now, and it doesn’t make sense. And they’re going to know.”
I could not remember the words. I just stopped. I looked at the music director and she started mouthing. I can’t even see what her lips are saying, she’s just moving them. And the audience, they took a breath together.
And then this lady Carol, she started singing my lines from off stage. And… I broke accent and I was like, “Thank you, Carol!” And kept singing. And the audience started clapping with me. They loved it. They thought it was so cute.
I got the biggest applause though. It was sweet. But it’s just a bunch of old people that love when people do silly stuff on stage…They love that shit.

How did you first get into theater?
I did a play when I was seven, which I don’t even remember doing honestly. I played an angel in the best Christmas Pageant Ever.
My older sister was in the plays before me. And so I’d see her and I loved it. And whenever she was in plays, I would sit in the front, watch the show as many times as they’d let me, and basically memorize the lines just by listening to them. I just loved it. I don’t know why. I decided… this is the coolest thing ever.
But after that, I was in fifth grade, which was when you were allowed to start doing theater…. We did… Shakespeare to Go, which was basically a bunch of Shakespeare skits….And my director was like, I know what you’re gonna do. Because you’re funny. So she made me play Pyramus from A Midsummer Night’s Dream….
My friend Parker had to play Thisbe. But Pyramus is this… tough guy. And then Thisbe is this beautiful woman. And he had to wear one of those… vampire Halloween costumes, with the big boobs. And he had a big blonde wig on, and he was like, “Oh, Pyramus!” and it was just really funny. We made people laugh so hard one woman peed her pants. She came up to me and said she literally peed in her pants. I think that got me hooked. I was like, “I can make people pee their pants? Okay, cool!”
After that I started doing the theater camps. I was really bad at singing…. I’ve gotten better, I’m still very bad. But I had maybe an octave range, and I would just squeal. It was awful. I was given a yodeling solo once in chorus. They were like, “Katelyn, you’ll yodel, because you sound like you yodel.”
It was pretty cute though. I don’t really know why there was a yodeling solo. I had suspenders on, I remember, and I snapped them during my solo and everyone laughed.
That was at Catholic school.

Catholic School?
We should unpack that. I went to Catholic school… second grade through eighth grade. But yeah, it was interesting. We had religion class, where we learned about Jesus.
Oh, one time. We did… What is it called? When Jesus has to die… and in a lot of churches there will be different moments of Jesus’s journey, from walking and when he falls, and basically up to like crucifixion?
We acted that out. I played Mary, and my friend Alex had to play Jesus. We forgot the crown of thorns. That was a mistake. But he did have to carry a big wooden cross through the gym in front of everyone, including the kindergarteners. And then we had to lay it down and put him on and lift it up. We crucified a kid.
And you know that statue of Mary holding Jesus? We had to recreate that, and do a tableau. I had to hold him. I had to be like, ‘you’re my son’. He was taller than me. It was really bad. He was really tall and skinny. And he was heavy.
In fifth grade, I got highlights, and one of my teachers said, “Katelyn, you shouldn’t have done that.” I said, “why?” Against dress code. But second of all, God would be disappointed in you.
What does God have against highlights?
I don’t know! She was like, God would be upset that you don’t have your natural color. But she had bleached blonde hair. So… I was a little upset.

Were your parents Catholic?
Kind of. I think we were still going to like the Nazarene church. And I think my dad might have been Lutheran? I don’t know. And I think my mom was Catholic. We went there and my sister and I did our first confession and our first communion and all that.
We continued to go to church up until I graduated in eighth grade, and now we don’t go anymore. So we’re done with that. We tried.

Do you still identify with any of Catholicism?

I’m kind of agnostic I think. Just… I don’t know. How can I know? I don’t know.
I like the idea of people kind of feeling something together, or unifying, but I think a lot of the stuff that I learned was kind of just bullshit. Not to crap on Catholicism, but there’s a lot of stuff that like they refrained from teaching us.

Like dinosaurs.
Yeah, like dinosaurs! What the hell? Because we learned… God made Earth in a week. And then he put a person on it. There’s no dinosaurs in the Bible. They don’t talk about that. And it’s only because they wrote the Bible before they really figured out about dinosaurs. So there’s just some faulty information.

My sincerest apologies. I learned about dinosaurs in second grade, and that was my peak of life.
It’s so hard! I love dinos. Yeah, the peak is dinosaurs, and after that there’s nothing. I didn’t even get to peak, I didn’t learn about dinos.

You’re still on your way to the peak.
I am. I’m climbing.

Climbing Mt. Dinosaur.
It seems like I’m falling.

So have you done some remedial dinosaur education?
Not a lot past Jurassic Park.

Based on your Jurassic Park knowledge, if you could be any dinosaur, what dinosaur would you be?
Probably a velociraptor, because they go really fast, and they’re the main dino. I mean, besides the T-rex.
Oh, or like a Brachiosaurus, so I could be really tall. That would be sweet. Because I’m 5’5’’.
I’m not tall… I can’t reach stuff. A lot of stuff I can’t see if I go to a show or a concert. Yeah, that would be cool. I’d be so tall, and I’d look down and be like, “Puny ants.” They’re not scared of anything. They just like, “Naah. I’m huge.” And in all the animations of them, they’re always moving so slowly. That’s me. I relate. The sloth of dinosaurs. That would be cool. Seems like a pretty safe dino to be.

Do you have any hidden pockets of nerdiness?
I was valedictorian. But everyone looks at me and they think I’m stupid. That was pretty nerdy. I handed in all my homework late and I didn’t even study so I don’t know. I think everyone just tried less hard.
I used to love One Direction. A lot. My favorite color is green because Niall’s favorite color is green, and Niall was my favorite one. And it’s still my favorite color, and I can’t make it not be. I forced it onto myself. “You will like green, goddamn it.”
When I came here, I wasn’t sure what I was going to major in. I was going to do criminal justice, because I thought I wanted to be a cop. And that was stupid, I didn’t want to do that. But that was the goal. I said, “I wanna be a state trooper.” I think it was just so I could wear the hat. Look like [the guy from] Yogi Bear.

So if you could have your hands be octopuses or bear hands, which would you take?
Wow. Probably bear claws. I don’t know if I can deal with the power of two octopus hands. It would make theater really hard. If I had bear claws they could just put gloves on me…. And then if I had bear claws, I could be like, “Don’t mess with me.” I would be like Wolverine, but I’m a bear. I feel like it would be better to have paws. It would be more controlled. Except they’d be big, huge still because bears have big, big hands.
Yeah, that’d be sick. Plus you get fur. I feel like if you need to take a little nap you just have a pillow that’s your paw. No one will judge me if I eat a bunch of honey.

We ask the hard-hitting questions at Basement Medicine. Do you have any parting words?
My parting words would be, “Stay sweet.” That’s just a quote from Hot Rod. And then he gets hit by a van.