Sunday, March 29, 2015
Spotlight On...Jay Stull
Hometown: Chesapeake, Virginia
Education: A.B. in Government and one year in law school.
Favorite Credits: I directed a rarely produced Tennessee Williams play called Cavalier for Milady a few years back that was great fun; also Emily Schwend’s Take Me Back.
Why theater?: I have no idea. I wish I knew. Perhaps because it comes closest to being play without the intervening concerns of making participants millions of dollars. I think that I find it fundamental in some way.
Tell us about Leave Me Green: Leave Me Green is a play about a lesbian widow who is juggling grief, alcoholism, and raising her straight teenage son alone. For me, it’s also a play about how gay people make families, the incredible creativity involved in that process, and its seductive novelty thrust against the very stark reality of keeping those families together and alive. Even in gay families parents die, have addictions, are at times unfit parents, and learn to be better.
What inspired you to direct Leave Me Green?: Lisi is a friend of mine and after directing a reading of the play this past summer, I felt drawn to the portrait she paints of the other side of gay marriage and gay families. I like how familiar these characters feel. The plot is honest and doesn’t embellish. Also, the actors in the reading this summer were themselves inspired by the play and created a magic in the performance of it that left Lisi and I wanting to do more.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like many types of theater, from performance art to naturalism. I like work that is broad in purpose, even if the scope of the plot is narrow. Having just finished tech and previews on Leave Me Green, I will say that I find the collective cooperation and sacrifice of a production inspiring. That artists can come together with little to no pay and merely with the desire to make collaborative art always makes me feel less alone and all the more grateful for the work we do. I am inspired by many artists (most recently Trajal Harrell for his Antigone ++ series, and Emily Schwend, George Hoffmann and Greg Kozatek as frequent collaborators) but to me, today, I’d say the team on Leave Me Green - the cast, designers, and production crew - have lifted my spirits.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: It’s so funny, I don’t really think this way. There are plays I’d like to direct, but I have such trust in New York as a deep pool of talent that I know I’d be able to find the right people for the roles. There are directors I’d love to assist but I’m too shy to talk about that here.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I would recommend Leave Me Green, first, of course. In addition, I’d recommend The Nether by Jennifer Haley, one of the best big idea plays in recent memory, directed with elegance by Annie Kaufman. I am so looking forward to seeing Iowa at Playwrights Horizons; everyone involved in that production makes art that stays with me. Also, my friend Cory Finley has a play up right now called The Feast that I so enjoyed when I read it last year. I’m going to see it before it closes this weekend at The Flea. And my friends Jerry Lieblich and Stefanie Horowitz have devised a piece called Ghost Stories that I’m looking forward to seeing next month. It’s at Cloud City and features Emma Meltzer, among others so if you haven’t gotten enough of Emma in Leave Me Green (and how could you?), head to Ghost Stories in April.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I have no idea who would play me; I’m rather dysmorphic in how I see myself/my life. But the title of the movie should be “Girl, Get Up Here”.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I wish I had seen the original productions of Sunday In the Park With George and Shining City.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Taxis.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A law professor. Or, more likely, someone with the credentials to teach but still looking for work.
What’s up next?: I’ll be directing two wonderful events as capstones to the 2015 R&D Group with The Civilians. These happen in May and I’m beyond excited to be working with Caroline V. McGraw, Rob Handel and Kamala Sankaram.
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For more on Leave Me Green, visit https://www.facebook.com/leavemegreen