Q&A: Eileen Dougharty
Mattie Barker might seem larger than life, and in a way she is. Originally played on stage by solo performer Jen Bosworth, the character for the PleasureTown podcast is written by multiple, talented scribes, including Eileen Dougharty, who wrote the Mattie Barker segment for Episode 102.
After dabbling in writing sketch comedy, Eileen discovered sharing true stories with other colorful Chicagoans to be far more hilarious. She has performed with Story Sessions, Story Club, 2nd Story, WRITE CLUB, Reading Under the Influence, and That’s All She Wrote. Eileen finds writing fiction delightfully liberating, as she gains twisted satisfaction from putting pretend people through their paces. The PleasureTown Historical Society sat down with Eileen to pick her brain about her inspirations for Mattie Barker, her inferior fighting skills and her dreams of being PleasureTown’s bartender.
Describe your character in terms of known personalities (i.e. half Hank from Breaking Bad, half Ralph Kramden from the honeymooners.)
Matilda evolves from being Celie in The Color Purple to becoming an unstoppable hybrid of Xena Warrior Princess and Laila Ali.
What do you have in common with your character? How are you different?
Matilda and I prefer being adventurous over being comfortable. We’re fueled by fortitude when circumstances don’t go our way. We’re both boxers, although Matilda is far superior to me in the pugilism department. Matilda dots her i’s with little hearts and smells of gardenia perfume, whereas I shun all things cutesy and generally reek of brown liquor with a slight hint of misanthropy.
What was the greatest challenge in finding your character?
It was complicated to imbue Matilda with a sense of dignity while she struggled to change her life’s course. Matilda always believed she could shine her light through any dark time; she would not stand for anyone taking pity on her. I pictured Matilda listening to a lot of early Pat Benatar for inspiration, mostly because that’s what I would do.
If you lived in PleasureTown, what would be your occupation and or/pastime?
I would apply to be the PleasureTown bartender. Drinks were simple and free flowing back then, I wouldn’t have to make Cosmopolitans. I’d never have to worry about business, because when times are good, people drink, and when times are tough, they drink more. I’d be getting paid to be privy to all the depraved gossip, and I’m a good listener.
Listen to Episode 102 and Follow Eileen Dougharty on Twitter