Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spotlight On...Jenny Seastone Stern

Name: Jenny Seastone Stern

Hometown: New York City

Education: I went to LaGuardia HS of Music and Art and Performing Arts before receiving my BFA from NYU at Playwrights Horizons and The Experimental Theatre Wing.

Select Credits: North Atlantic (The Wooster Group), Grimly Handsome (Julia Jarcho; OBIE Award for Best American Play, 2013), Stay (Rattlestick), Gin Baby (KidBrooklyn), Our Planet (Japan Society), A (Extremely Condensed and Expanded), Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, (after David Foster Wallace) (Daniel Fish), Blood Play (The Debate Society), Dreamless Land (New York City Players), American Treasure (13P), The Bereaved (Partial Comfort), P.S. Jones and the Frozen City (TerraNOVA), Goldor $ Mythyka (New Georges), Vendetta Chrome (Clubbed Thumb), Devil Land (SPF), Dawn (The Flea), Purity (PS122). Selected Film: "The Girl From Monday" (Hal Hartley), "Meanwhile" (Hal Hartley) and "Planet Earth: Dreams" (DJ Mendel).  TV: "Over/Under". Member: Partial Comfort Productions. Affiliated artist of New Georges. Founder of the performance series Catch.

Why theater?: Theatre is an attempt to understand the human condition. It's an experience with other people­–an event that is shared­–a conversation with an audience.  The writer, director, designers, producers, the stage manager and the actors all give their hearts. In turn, the audience opens theirs to receive­ as both a witness and a participant. It’s an exchange of imagination. Theatre is human. And as a performer theatre affords me the opportunity to better understand my humanity–to dig into myself and be my both more than and also my full and best self.

Tell us about The Gin Baby:
From the IRT website: "No longer able to self-medicate with alcohol and in a desperate search for escape, a young woman finds herself standing on the edge of the 1 subway platform. She faces the train as it roars into the station, and then faces the consequences as she commits herself to a psych ward in one last attempt to commit to herself." I play the Amelia's roommate in the psychiatric ward, Ellen, who is dealing with a lot. She goes on a big journey in the play. I don't want to say much more about it.

What is it like being a part of The Gin Baby?:
There are such incredible artists working on this brutally honest piece, which is written by the talented and fearless Sarah Shaefer. I perform on stage mostly with Lesley Shires. It's pretty magical to breathe with her and discover the world of the play together every performance. Our director, Daniel Talbott, asks us to uncover new things each night. So the show always ends up a little different. This really forces us to live in the characters–to explore our relationship to each other in a fresh way every time we step on stage. Daniel has given us so much. He also allows us so much freedom; demands it actually. His ideas about theatre–what theatre means–are quite powerful. It’s truly a gift to work with him. He’s an inspiration. I’m in awe of all of the other performers in the show as well. Lesley Shires, Shyko Amos, Jelena Stupljanin, Maxwell J. Hamilton and Chris Stack. I’m honored to be able to watch them perform and to share the stage with them. Everyone in the company is giving their hearts, full force.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: New Theatre. Theatre that pushes boundaries either in form or content. I’m interested in examining the human condition. Of being let in to private worlds. I believe in bravery, truth, and the discovery and exploration of humanity, as well as the exploration of what it means to do theatre as a medium. My favorite visual artists right now are William Kentridge and Brent Green. I'm really excited to see the Art Speigelman exhibit when I have a chance. I like to read poetry. I have a number of favorite theatre artists. And I often feel inspired when I'm on the Q train crossing the Manhattan Bridge.

Any roles you’re dying to play?:
Saint Joan. I'm sure there are a million that haven't been written yet; that I don't yet know; that I'm dying to play.

What’s your favorite showtune?: I'm not well versed in the musical theatre genre. I feel unqualified to answer this question. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Robert Wilson.  There are really so many people that I cannot wait to work with.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: This question is too existential for me to answer right now.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Right now I can't see anything because of my schedule, but if I could, I would see Grounded, which P73 is producing, Actress Fury at the Bushwick Starr. I can't wait to see Thomas Bradshaw's Intimacy at The New Group. The Wooster Group is doing Troilus and Cressida, which I am looking forward to. I would also love to see Animals at Dixon Place and Tyson vs. Ali at PS122.  There's so much right now!

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Papa Was A Rodeo" by the Magnetic Fields and "Angel From Montgomery" by John Prine are on my iphone backstage.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Homeland. I'm on Season 2 right now.

What’s up next?: Fault Line Theatre's production of The Faire written by Crystal Finn and directed by Aaron Rossini.  It goes up at the 4th Street Theatre on February 7th.