Jen Silverman’s play, Phoebe in Winter, opens September 23 at Single Carrot Theatre in Baltimore. Her work has been produced off-Broadway by the Playwrights Realm (Crane Story), off-off Broadway by Clubbed Thumb (Phoebe in Winter), by Actor’s Theatre of Louisville (The Roommate, Humana 2016), and by InterAct Theatre (The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane). She is an affiliated artist with New Georges, Ars Nova, The Playwrights Realm, Space on Ryder Farm, and The Lark, and has developed work with Playwrights Horizons/ Superlab, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Williamstown, Playpenn, the O’Neill, Seven Devils, NYTW, and The New Harmony Project. She’s a two-time MacDowell fellow, recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, New York Foundation for the Arts grant, and a Leah Ryan / Lilly Award for her play The Moors. The Hunters was selected for the Cherry Lane Mentor Project (mentor Lynn Nottage) and Still won the Yale Drama Series Award, and was published by Yale University Press. Education: Brown, Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard. www.jensilverman.com
What can you say in a play you can’t say in another medium?
Writing plays is a practice in rigorous truth-telling and dangerous questioning. In the “real world” there are so many incentives to avoid asking questions whose answers will make you uncomfortable, or substitute convenience for truth. The confluence of containment, intimacy, and community makes it possible to ask an audience to go to these places with you in a theatre.
What type of theatre most excites you?
Muscular, aggressive, structurally unique theatre. Plays that have something to say, and risk everything to say it. Plays driven by character and obsession.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
I find myself drawn to very dark humor. I think the world is most often an unpredictable and heart-breaking place, and the one gift we have been given in all of this – as a species – is the ability to laugh at ourselves. I’m interested in stories about transformation, change, about the kind of courage or desperation it takes to completely reinvent your life.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
PHOEBE IN WINTER
September 23- October 18, 2015
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Details and Tickets
What female playwrights have influenced your writing?
Caryl Churchill – in her continued reinventions of structure and content, and her refusal to make the same thing twice. And Sarah Kane – in her fearless conflation of politics and violence, and her mastery (then repurposing) of classical play structures.
What’s missing from theatre today?
Government funding, a general sense of cultural urgency and necessity. These things are related.
What are you working on now?
A new play called The Moors – Yale Rep is producing it this winter, directed by Jackson Gay. It tells the story of two sisters and a dog living out their lives on the bleakest of bleak English moors, and dreaming of love and power. The arrival of a hapless governess and a moor-hen set all three on a strange and dangerous path. The Moors is a dark comedy about love, desperation, and visibility.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
Sequestered in some sticky and damp international prison…?