Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meet Our 2010 Festival Playwrights, Week Two!: JEANNE DRENNAN

We're thrilled to welcome to San Francisco this summer Pittsburgh-based playwright Jeanne Drennan, whose play Atlas of Longing will be developed as part of the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. More about Jeanne...

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

I've been doing this for about twenty years, if we don't count the plays written, produced, and directed by me for the neighborhood when I was about 10 or 11. An 8th-grade production of "HMS Pinafore," which I saw sitting on my father's shoulders when I was about 4, first drew me to the theatre. I can still see Little Buttercup's yellow gown and bonnet. But there's no one "creative spark" for me, just a need to tap into the stories in my head.

2. What inspired the creation of your play, Atlas of Longing. Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

The immediate impulse came from a border crossing, a return to the US from Canada. The play ultimately took a very different trajectory and I'm not sure why. Characters and lines of development come to me largely unbidden and I have to pursue them, but I know they owe their existence to my being somewhat addicted to "The Economist," which has opened up new worlds for me. Ultimately, I'm sure I'll get back to that border crossing, but it will be a different play.

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

I'm always hoping for that "Aha!" moment when the silver bullet that will make everything come right in the play presents itself. In reality, discoveries tend to be small but sometimes far-reaching. What they'll be, I don't know yet, but I'm hoping for lots of them.

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

Composer David Berlin and I are aimed toward a workshop this fall of our new musical, "Dear Boy." Everyone should please say a prayer that the funding comes through.

5. Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

In no particular order:

Chekhov, "The Cherry Orchard"
August Wilson, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
Tom Stoppard, "Arcadia"
Caryl Churchill, "Mad Forest"
Shakespeare, "King Lear"

Jeanne Drennan is inordinately happy to be in the Bay Area working on Atlas of Longing. Other full-length plays include Asparagus, Limoges, Medea at Athens, Wrong Side Out, 12 Dogs, and Waxworks, mostly produced and/or developed in the east. Besides Atlas, current projects include a chamber musical with composer David Berlin, called Dear Boy, and the more embryonic Left Luggage which she recently spent time researching in central Europe. She has been the grateful recipient of seven fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in support of her writing and also has a sideline in teaching and dramaturgy for young playwrights through City Theatre in Pittsburgh, her adopted hometown.

For more information on Jeanne Drennan and to see a Festival Calendar of Events, please visit our website:

The 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival takes place JULY 23 - AUGUST 1, 2010 at the Thick House in Potrero Hill, SF.

1 comment:

Playwrights Foundation said...

hi Jeanne,
can you tell us a bit about your play on the festival?