Jennifer Hoppe-House’s play Bad Dog debuts September 30, 2015 at Olney Theatre Center. She has written for theater, film and television (Nurse Jackie and Damages, among others). In 2009, she and her writing partner Nancy Fichman were nominated for a Writers Guild of America award. Bad Dog is her first full-length play, an NNPN’s rolling world premier which began at Orlando Shakespeare Theater in April. Jennifer is currently working on the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. She invites you to follow her on Twitter: @Hoppe_House
Why are you a playwright?
I’m a playwright because I’m attracted to unvarnished drama. I’m a realist. I appreciate theater of the absurd, but I probably won’t (or maybe I can’t) write about a post apocalyptic apartment in New York, or a play about a woman who’s buried up to her neck, or about two guys waiting for someone who never comes. I’m attracted to writing about how people cope; what they will say and what they won’t. And while I can do that in film and television (which have been my day jobs for 20 years), what I can’t do is allow things to unfold slowly; I’m not allowed to use language in the same way. I feel more like a composer when I write a play, and that’s exhilarating.
What type of theatre most excites you?
Great theater, which is hard to come by, but when you see it, you know it.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
Usually the incipient idea forms around a situation or a relationship that I find fascinating.
Do you have a favorite writing place?
I don’t really have a prescription for discipline. When I began writing, it seemed to be my most difficult hurdle, but I’ve been a professional writer for many years and when people are waiting for a draft, you tend to get it done. This play was something I wrote between television seasons and just got up, read the paper and started writing. I think I spent about seven hours a day writing, switching between the desk and the bed.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
September 30 – October 25, 2015
Olney Theatre Center
2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road
Olney, Maryland, 2083
Details and Tickets
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
Bad Dog is my first full-length play and The Olney offered it a slot in their season.
Which female playwrights have influenced your writing?
I was obsessed with Lillian Hellman growing up, I love Lisa Kron’s work and I’m a fan of Annie Baker’s plays. All of these playwrights explore things in ways I wouldn’t have considered. They have all enriched my experience as an audience member and as a writer.
What’s missing from theatre today?
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, which takes most of my time. And I’m thinking about a play. I have a file.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
Some other kind of writer. I’m wholly inept at everything else.
Anything you would like to add?
I’m thrilled to be part of this festival and to join other women in bringing our perspectives to the fore, but I echo the sentiments of other writers who have said that it’s absurd that we have to create an event in order to see plays by women – there is no men’s festival. I don’t consider myself to be a woman writer any more than I consider myself to be a lesbian writer or a Jewish writer. I would very much like to be simply a playwright.