Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Spotlight On...Jenna Spiwack

Name: Jenna Spiwack

Hometown: Brewster, NY.

Education: Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

Why theater?: Three things come to mind: 1. Because of the sound of an audience watching something exciting, moving, shocking, or inspiring. 2. Because of the people I’ve met, the people I hope to meet, and the stories I want to tell and help tell. 3. Because of the stories that are brought to life in a way that cannot be reproduced anywhere but the stage. There are so many reasons and yet it may be one of the hardest questions to answer.

Tell us about Flat Fish and Big Stuff: Flat Fish is a story about love, family, and finding yourself. The main characters are on a journey to understand each other as they speak across time and distance in a desire to connect and better understand one another. Big Stuff is a story about a moment in a couple’s relationship where they check in about having different long-term goals. My hope is that the play takes the everyday experiences of dating and getting to know new people and looks at the complex nuances of the communication that entails. It asks the question “How do we strike the balance between living in the moment together and planning for the future?”

What inspired you to write/direct Big Stuff/Flat Fish: Both Big Stuff and Flat Fish navigate through themes of love, communication and understanding. When I read Flat Fish I was immediately drawn to the main character’s search for love and how it existed in tandem with the journeys for all characters in the piece to self-acceptance and accepting love in many forms. Big Stuff was inspired by having conversations with my peers and others about wants and needs as a young adult in the world as well as some of my own experiences. Figuring out what you want from your relationships as well as the way to communicate that when aspects of your life may be in flux can be very tricky. These conversations fascinate me as I move through the world, which has led me to write about them.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I most often find myself coming back to plays about relationships and the complex nuances of communication. I am most intrigued when a play truly surprises me, moves me, and/or when it finds a method to hit close to home in a way I didn’t expect.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: There are too many talented people in this business to pick! I feel lucky that I have been able to work with such kind and generous people so far, so more people like that I would say.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: In 2016 I kept coming back to Men on Boats, Party People, and Small Mouth Sounds.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I polled my friends and Jenny Slate was the top choice. The title? Maybe “90% Extrovert” or “I Have That Kinda Face: A Face Where People Just Tell Me Stuff”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Maybe an old musical with a big full orchestra.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Old musicals with small plots and big full orchestras.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: My first instinct is to say a photographer, though I’m trying to picture a universe where I’m not in the arts…but maybe I just can’t stay away!

What’s up next?: Sitting down with a gluten free bagel and finishing my next play.