Playwright Kate Snodgrass on getting lost, loving Italy, and hating camping


Award-winning Boston playwright Kate Snodgrass is “beyond excited” about her latest work, “The Art of Burning,” at the Huntington Theatre’s Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The play runs Jan. 13-Feb. 12 before heading to the Hartford Stage in March. “I think it’s a play that’s right for the moment we’re living in. It’s my exploration of what this culture is doing right now and what we need to do in order to prepare our children for the future,” Snodgrass said. “The play is ostensibly about a divorce and a custody battle, but it’s also about the divide between men and women and also our children and what they need.” Despite the seemingly serious topic, the playwright said it’s actually quite humorous. “I don’t tell the story in a linear fashion. It’s kind of a controlled chaos,” she said. “It will be an interesting time for the audience and not what is necessarily expected.” We caught up with the Wichita, Kan., native, who lives in Somerville with her two cats — Uno and Tres — to talk about all things travel.

If you could travel anywhere right now, and money was no object, where would you go? This is a hard question. Don’t get me started. Basically, I’m a sucker for Italy. I can’t seem to help myself. I’ve been many times. If I could, I would rent a villa in Venice or on Lake Como, and sit in the palazzo or on the veranda and stare at the water while surrounded by the la bella lingua — the beautiful language — and the wine grown on the villa’s grounds. Oh, and the pasta. But I wouldn’t want to miss the Galápagos Islands and be guided by a knowledgeable scientist who picked me up on my yacht anchored offshore, itself staffed with a gourmet chef.

Where was the first place you traveled to after COVID restrictions were lifted? I traveled to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, N.M., to teach. It’s Georgia O’Keeffe country — she had a home in Abiquiu and one on the ranch itself. The ranch is known for its beauty: Kitchen Mesa, Chimney Rock, and Box Canyon with Pedernal lounging in the distance. The sunsets, the sky, the red clay, and the spiritual feeling inspired by the landscape — altogether it’s powerful.

Do you prefer booking trips through a travel agent or on your own? I much prefer making my own reservations. I look forward to doing the research involved when I decide where I’m going. When I find what accommodations are available, I can make my own decisions. I love this part of traveling; I can dream about the infinite possibilities while I’m searching. This probably comes from my need to control.

Thoughts on an “unplugged” vacation? Hmmm. I love this idea. I haven’t quite managed it fully yet, but I have had entire days where I didn’t check my phone — until bedtime, that is, and then I’ll play Sudoku or read my Kindle app to fall asleep. The phone does come in handy if and when I get lost, which is something I managed to do once in Siena. You’d think I wouldn’t get lost in a walled city, but … for me, it’s possible.

Do you use all of your vacation time or leave some on the table? I’m retired now and don’t have to worry about what’s going on at the office. But when I was working, I tended to take vacations for a week or so, and leave some extra time “on the table” for another holiday down the line.

What has been your worst vacation experience? I was with my friends on a vacation in Lake of the Ozarks. It was beautiful, I loved being with my friends, the days were grand … until I went to my tent to sleep. During the day, I left the tent open because it got very hot inside with the sun streaming down. Unfortunately, every spider, beetle, cockroach, bee, fly, and mosquito loved the shade of the tent, so they hid in the shadows waiting for me to come to bed. Luckily some of my friends weren’t scaredy-cats like me, and they helped me rid the tent of the insects. But I couldn’t sleep thinking about the ones I’d missed — and yes, there were some. From then on, I had a choice of a hot tent or creepy-crawlies. Guess which I chose? A camper I am not.

Do you vacation to relax, to learn, or for the adventure of it all? All three, I have to admit. I love to have a place where I can relax and enjoy the scenery, sit and read, or take short walks, but that only lasts a short time until I need to get out and explore. I loved visiting Michelangelo’s birthplace, viewing the queen jewels in the Tower of London, walking through the Uffizi and the Louvre, and touching Shakespeare’s grave in Stratford-on-Avon. The Les Baux-de-Provence Quarry of Light and Art was extraordinary, and there’s nothing like dancing at the Jump Up on Friday night in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, while sampling a roti. I’ve “shot the rapids” in Valdez, Alaska, and gone swimming in a sea of phosphorescence in Jamaica. Relaxation, learning, and adventure — it’s all one in my book. I have no plans to climb Mount Everest, but what’s the point of sitting down when there’s so much to see and experience?

What book do you plan on bringing with you to read on your next vacation? ”The Age of Entanglement” by Louise Gilder: I love the new physics — even though I don’t understand it — and mysteries, so this book will serve as both. Also, I might take “Bright Air Black” by David Vann — Medea’s story told from her point of view — and read it again. It’s superb.

If you could travel with one famous person/celebrity, who would it be? I guess Shakespeare would be out, right? Then … David Attenborough.

What is the best gift to give a traveler? A plug that fits into every socket ever invented, so that we can charge our computers, phones, iPads, batteries, et al., and our hair dryers won’t explode.

What is your go-to snack for a flight or a road trip? I love peanut butter, so that and some apples are my go-to snacks.

What is the coolest souvenir you’ve picked up on a vacation? I don’t know from cool. However, I was visiting Deruta, Italy, and my friends bought me a very expensive piece of pottery that I had admired but felt I couldn’t afford at the time. I display it on a special shelf, and it reminds me of them and that wonderful trip.

What is your favorite app/website for travel? is where I go to plan every trip. It’s filled with information about airports, cities, regions, countries, and the cultures. There are good deals there, too.

What has travel taught you? Many times I travel alone, but people everywhere are kind and ready to help. Kindness knows no boundaries.

What is your best travel tip? Don’t hang out in the hotel. Take a walk. And don’t leave your passport in a taxi like I did.


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