We continue our 17th Writer/Director Lab with Jordan Seavey’s new play NOVEMBER 4, 2008, directed by Hannah Wolf. This is the fourth installment in a series of interviews with the participants of this year’s Lab. Come and join us for the second Lab reading at Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 107 Suffolk Street, April 22nd at 7PM!
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1. Briefly tell us about the play you are directing.
I’m directing this epic, super fun play by Jordan Seavey, NOVEMBER 4TH, 2008. In the weeks leading up to the 2008 election, a group of 5th graders take a “learn about the election” assignment too far, becoming the politicians and trying to win over their parties, colleagues and the hearts of the American people/ classmates. Through this lens, they’re also on the cusp of discovering their own gender, sexuality, crushes and fears about the unknown that middle school brings. There are 11 adult actors involved, playing 5th graders, who are in turn playing known politicians. Jordan has really captured the world of this NYC classroom and isn’t afraid of the challenge that a large cast brings.
2. Who are your greatest influences?
Roald Amundsen for leadership. John Muir, for getting outside. Anne Bogart for striving to create new models in the rehearsal room. Ed Sylvanus Iskander and EPPB for creating community events. Jeremy Pickard for meshing scientists and artists. Anne Washburn for MR BURNS. John Tiffany for meshing performance and musicians. Joe Papp for going against the system. The Kilroy’s, for ladies. Soho Rep, for the balls of a no subscribers audience system. My lab cohorts, for being amazing. And David Bowie, just because.
3. What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?
Any time Ken and Jenny read a fight scene together.
As these plays went on their process together, it became apparent that they were all in strange conversation with each other. It’s been really cool to watch them grow at the same time and see how what one writer is struggling with can influence the others.
4. How have your dramaturgical skills developed over the course of the past nine months?
It’s rare to be able to observe other director/playwright relationships and the dramaturgical notes that are given, but the lab is run like an open table. Each process is completely open, each director and writer asks questions of each play. It’s been really wonderful to see where the others around the table lie, who fixates on what in a new script and why and how we all challenge each other.
Somehow Jenny and Ken have created an unfiltered room. No one there has an agenda and no thought is bat down. Everything is welcomed, rigorously questioned, while also being nurtured and grown.
5. Seventeen years on the Lab has produced some pretty great plays. Looking over them, do any stand out to you?
Just sitting in the office, surrounded by the posters of the past labs has been really inspiring. It’s amazing to track the multi year development that Soho has given to some of these projects, supporting their first premiere and other projects down the road.
Also! Did you know that 4000 MILES, IN THE LABYRINTH and SOMEWHERE FUN were developed at the Lab? Because I sure didn’t.
I’m in awe of the names that are part of the Lab list. It’s humbling to be surrounded by those names and look at the legacy. The people who have been through the Lab are the ones who are changing American Theatre and it makes me ridiculously proud to be a part of that list.