Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meet Our Festival Playwrights: J.C. Lee

J.C. Lee's new play Pookie Goes Grenading will be developed as part of the BASH (Bay Area SHorts) program in the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival.  Read more about this prolific young playwright...

1.   How long have you been writing for the theatre?  What was the creative spark that led you to become a playwright?

  • At 17 I was a freshman in college and my roommate (a surly, awesome dude) brought home a flier calling for new plays. I'd always been a writer and he posed a pretty straightforward question: "yo, you always writin' shit an' you always doin' theatre; why don' you juss write theatre?" I'd never ever thought about writing theatre before because, truth be told, up until that very moment, I didn't even realize you could write theatre. That night I wrote a one-act play called The Sleepover that wound up getting produced that spring. Ever since then I've been a playwright. Thanks, surly roommate.

2.   What inspired the creation of your play, Pookie Goes Grenading?  Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

  • I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible actors for as long as I can remember. One of them was auditioning for the Bay Area Generals and needed a monologue. I love writing monologues; it's like getting to write the best part of a play without having to do all the hard work of contextualizing it within a dramatic framework that justifies it. So I wrote her one (and coincidentally, that audition landed her a role in the Sleepwalkers Theatre production of my play This World Is Good in August 2010). It went over really well so I thought "what the hell?" and just ran with it. I'd never written anything as outrageous as Pookie before and really wanted to test myself . Plus my husband Adrian, who serves as resident dramaturge in our home, is always nagging me to write a comedy. So I did. Well...we'll see if I did.

3.   What do you hope to discover, improve, or change in your play during the festival process?

  • Ultimately I want this play production ready. That's always my goal in development. I'm lucky enough to have come from a school of thought that recognized the importance and pragmatism of the theatrical form - all developmental roads should lead to production - thus that's always in the forefront of the rewriting I do. At a more nitty gritty level, I'm interested in developing and clarifying character spines and choices, ensuring that the comedy of the piece doesn't mean the characters are sketches instead of people. I never know what that means in terms of discovery, which is why it's so fun to be a playwright.

4.   After the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, what’s next for you?

  • Sleepwalkers Theatre in San Francisco is producing a trilogy of my plays called This World and After which opens in August with the first play in the trilogy This World Is Good and rolls on all 2010-2011 with Into the Clear Blue Sky (which was a Bay Area Playwrights Festival finalist in 2009) and The Nature Line: all the plays deal with the end of the world, comic books and dorky joy. That project will be keeping me pretty busy all year. I'm also constantly blogging and spitting out new plays. I'll be spending plenty of time dancing, snuggling my cat and exploring various bars throughout the Bay Area.  Also,  I just found out (like a few minutes ago) that I'll be heading to Juilliard for graduate school in 2010-11! 
5.   Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

  • In no particular order: King Lear, Hamlet, Angels in America, The Piano Lesson & The Pillowman though to be totally honest, if I was stuck on a desert island, I'd much prefer trading plays for hot island boys, an abundant food source and a mosquito net.

JC Lee is a playwright and director whose work has been seen throughout the country. Originally from New York City, he is the former founding Artistic Director of the Omicron Theatre Project and a former faculty member at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts. His plays have been seen at The Williamstown...
For more information on J.C. Lee and to see the rest of the festival lineup, please visit our website.

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