Friday, November 28, 2014
Spotlight On...Jenny Rachel Weiner
Hometown: Coral Springs, FL: where New Yorkers go to retire, and their children follow suit.
Education: BFA in Theatre Arts Performance from Boston University and MFA in Playwriting from Fordham/Primary Stages.
Favorite Credits: diventare (KCACTF National Student Playwriting Award), The Selfish Giant, Grow Wise (Northlight Theatre), Nina (Fordham/Primary Stages), Jason&Julia (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Horse Girls (Fordham/Primary Stages, Ars Nova, Collaboraction, Annex Theatre), Aunt Sylvia Is Dead (The Collective), Summer on the High Seas (Ugly Rhino).
Why theater?: When I was five years old I played the Ugly Stepsister at the Lollipop Theatre in an abandoned mall, and I haven't really looked back since.
Tell us about Horse Girls: Horse Girls is a play about pre-teens: their obsessions, their insecurities, their desperate need to find a place in the world. This is the "official" blurb: Twelve-year-old Ashleigh rules the Lady Jean Ladies, South Florida's most exclusive horse club. Rumor that her family's stables are being sold and their horses killed for meat throws the Ladies into crisis in this dark comedy of middle school deception and lies.
What inspired you to write Horse Girls?: I have a total fascination with this time period. I think the experiences we have in middle school shape us in a major way, and the kind of intensity and seriousness in which pre-teens move through the world is both incredibly funny and painfully sad to me. The horse preteen culture is a great example of obsessiveness in young girls, and diving into that highly specific world allowed me to find the universality of the deeper, human issues we face, horse-obsessed or not, that live in the play. It really could be about anything; mine was always theatre. I was President of my Thespian troupe and my world revolved around that sub-culture. This play is an exploration of how far one might go to protect the thing they feel is keeping them the safest.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The theatre that speaks to me is theatre that makes me feel. A sharp, nuanced, honest, belly laugh kind of play with heart is my favorite to experience. I love plays that incorporate highly theatrical moments in a smart, surprising way. I am also a huge fan of work that distills deeply human moments, shining a light on their hidden parts, so that we as audience can see our deepest selves, our darkest selves, see the questions we want to ask the world, see the things in the world that make us angry, that make us feel excited, that call us into action.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would love to hive mind with Annie Baker, Lisa Kron, Sheila Callaghan, and Jill Soloway--some major lady heroes of mine. I would love to work with an ensemble based group like The Civilians or Elevator Repair Service. I think it would be fun to write a play for Heather Matarazzo (of Welcome To The Dollhouse, one of my greatest joys in life).
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I just saw Sarah Ruhl's The Oldest Boy and I ugly-cried through most of the play. I think it's absolutely stunning.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Gaby Hoffman or Carl Reiner and it would be called "MOM, I'M FINE!"
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Thai Food. And Netflix TV Binge Watching. Usually at the same time.
What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Right now it's “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift. Horse Girls has taken over my life.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: This is an ACTUAL quote from my middle school journal: "The thing I most want to be is a famous actress. If I don't become that, some of the other choices would be: a child psychiatrist, a speech pathologist, but my real dream is to become a famous actress and win an oscar and an emmy and all that good stuff!!!!!"
What’s up next?: I am currently working on a few different projects with a few different collaborators, all of which I'm incredibly excited about: a pilot, a web series, a take on Waiting for Godot, but instead of Godot, it's Sutton Foster, and an exploration of my time at theatre camp. I'm also an actor and director with The Story Pirates--check us out at storypirates.org!