Kate Valk is a founding member of The Wooster Group, a collective of artists who make new work for the theater. Kate Valk began her work with the group in 1979 while she was a student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
Kate Valk was born on March 7, 1956 in Spokane, Washington. Her mother was a nurse, while her father was a jack-of-all-trades; he worked, at various times, at a cement company, a post office, a remodeling company, and on real estate ventures. They moved consistently during her childhood, including to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. This lower-middle-class childhood did not give her much exposure to the arts. At age 16, she worked part-time at Shepherd Pratt, a nursing home. She attended Towson State in Baltimore, Maryland for two years before moving to New York City at the age of 19 to pursue a career in theatre. She attended NYU in the studio program and worked with Stella Adler for two years. During her last semester, she worked with the Experimental Theatre Wing while the Wooster Group was teaching for the semester and really enjoyed her experience with them. During her time in NYC, she worked for Ding-a-Ling Taxi.
After she finished college, she turned back to theatre and went to the Wooster Group in search of a job. She had worked as a seamstress during her time in the theatre, so starting in 1979, Elizabeth LeCompte hired her to work as a seamstress and for general help with production, including making props and transcribing. Her first role with the Wooster Group as an actress was in Route 1 & 9, an adaption of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town staged in 1981. She has appeared in every Wooster Group show since. She has also worked in film, appearing most notably in The Manchurian Candidate as Agent Volk. In recent years, she has founded two different arts education programs. One of them is an in-school theatre curriculum at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Middle School in Chinatown, founded in 1992. The other arts education program is a free, three-week summer program for high school students, called the Wooster Group’s Summer Institute, founded in 1997.
Her stage credits include:
The Hairy Ape as Mildred Douglas, 1997
Hamlet as Gertrude/Ophelia, 2007, at St. Ann’s Warehouse
The Emperor Jones as Brutus Jones, 2009, at Owen Bruner Goodman Theatre
North Atlantic as performer, 2010, at The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater
Vieux Carré as performer, 2010-2011, at The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater
Early Plays as performer, 2012, at St. Ann’s Warehouse
Cry, Trojans! as performer, 2014, at The Performing Garage
The Room as performer, 2015-2016, at The Performing Garage
Her film credits include:
The Golden Boat as Amelia Lopes (1990)
The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez as Sue (1991)
Dead Flowers Alice (1992)
Fresh Kill (1994)
The Manchurian Candidate as Agent Volk (2004)
Utopians as Dr. L