Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spotlight On...Penny Jackson

Name: Penny Jackson

Hometown: New York City

Education: Barnard College, BA English. Columbia University, MA English.

Favorite Credits: I Know What Boys Want (Lions Theater, Theater Row, Ego Actus Producers) Going Up (International Dublin Gay Theater Festival, 91 Central Productions).

Why theater?: Because theater can create social change and make people think. I love that theater is a community with the actors, playwright, director and the audience. Everyone is involved. Films seem not to have that same connection.

What inspired you to write We Were Very Merry: Edna Saint Vincent Millay is one of my favorite poets, and the female poet who won the Pulitzer for her plays as well. She was also a bisexual bohemian: fearless and a truly modern women of the times. I'm very interested in the writing process, so this play is about how she composed one of her most famous poems, "Recurerdo." She also has to juggle two love affairs, one with a man, and another with a woman, and deal with a journalist who believe she, along with Oscar Willde, are decadent criminals. A lot to fit in ten pages, but I have a fantastic actress who plays Edna Mary Monahan, and one of my favorite directors, Glory Chadian

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: My director, Joan Kane of Ego Actus inspires me to write every play. She pushes me further and further into what really matters in the world today. The kind of theater that speaks to you is one that is filled with complex characters and compelling stories. I am a little tired of plays about young people living in Brooklyn who can't figure out what to do with their lives. I love plays with passion - A Long Day's Journey Into Night still makes me just dissolve in tears. I also love theater that makes you think. Tom Stoppard assumes his audience is as smart as he is, and creates the most brilliant female characters in theater. Arcadia is still a classic. And of course Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour about the power of lies.

If you could work with anyone you  have yet to work with, who would it be?: I would do anything to have Mark Rylance, the greatest living stage actor in the world, star in one of my plays.  That is my greatest theater dream.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Iceman Cometh which is now at BAM. Wolf Hall because I'm obsessed with the very naughty Henry the 8th and I adore the Hilary Mantel novels.. The Nether now playing at The Lucille Lortel theater. A brilliant and terrifying play of the future by Jennifer Haley.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Although she's British, I love Emma Thompson. She is a brilliant actress who is also a writer. My film, I suppose, because of my name, would be titled "Penny Lane."

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original production of My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews.

What 's your biggest guilty pleasure?: Tennis. I love watching Rafa Nadel! I'm also a huge World Cup Fan, and kind of lost contact with friends because I was glued to the t.v. set watching all the matches in Brazil.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would ____?: I love to travel. It's the gypsy in me.

Whats up next?: My new production of I Know What Boys Want, directed by Joan Kane and produced at Ego Actus, July 16th to August 2nd, at The Lion Theater at Theater Row, 410 We 442nd street. This is an exciting restating of an earlier sold-out production, and I'm thrilled that I will have the opportunity for new audiences to see this very timely play about cyber-bullying, privacy, feminism and female empowerment.