Woman overcomes illness to become playwright

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Samford University student’s journey to becoming a playwright was no small feat. 

Kat Conner Sterling’s one-woman show, “Beautifully Chaotic,” is about embracing the imperfections that go along with being human. Sterling talked with CBS 42’s Michelle Logan about how performance art is her outlet of self-reflection as well as a way to inspire and connect with the community.

Sterling is the first theater student at Samfrod to write and perform a one-person-show as part of her senior capstone project. 

“A capstone is really kind of piecing together what you’ve learned throughout the years, [showcasing] the artist that you have come to be,” Sterling says.

In Sterling’s case, her expression as an artist was shaped by her trying time as a student.

“In comparison to my friends, it wasn’t normal,” she admits.

Her difficulty began freshman year at college, when she fell ill. 

“I had…blood tests, I had done all these blood panels, CT scans, all of that, and they could not figure out what was wrong. The only diagnosis was that it was a mystery,” Sterling says.

For years, Sterling’s physical state has been weak and unpredictable.

“I was very, very sick, and I just collapsed and [became] unresponsive. I couldn’t move or speak,” she recalls of the frightening time in her life.

There’s one thing that got Sterling through tough times: her craft.

“The first thing I said when I was able to speak and gain a little back of my movement was ‘Where’s my script?'” she says.

Since her first bout of illness, Sterling has been diagnosed with what doctors say is an unknown autoimmune disease. Despite her hardships, she reflects positively on her far-from-perfect college experience. Her professors say her writing and heart-driven performances make her stand out.

“Even though it’s extraordinary, specifically, Kat, there is a universality about this story that is just enchanting,” says Don Sandley, Sterling’s theater professor at Samford.

It’s a universality about being human.

“[It’s about] finding your light and loving your life for what it is. Whether it is crazy, it is chaotic, but it’s beautifully chaotic.”

You can see “Beautifully Chaotic” at Samford University’s Bolding Studio Saturday night at 6 p.m.

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