We continue our 17th Writer/Director Lab with Jordan Seavey’s new play NOVEMBER 4, 2008, directed by Hannah Wolf. This is the second 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 your play.
Here’s how I describe NOVEMBER 4, 2008: It’s the first day of 5th grade and the only thing worse than Nikita’s senioritis is her obsession with the 2008 presidential election, one month away. As she puppeteers nine of her fellow misfit classmates to take on the roles of Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin and pretty much everyone else in American government, the 10-year-olds are forced to learn about some very adult subjects – race, gender, sex and the actual distance between Russia and Alaska – faster than you can say “Yes We Can.”
2. Who are your greatest influences in your writing?
My #1 is probably Caryl Churchill. When I was 21 I wrote her a letter and she wrote back. Kushner, Albee, Chekhov, Durang, Vogel are big influences too. I also like a lot of risk-taking filmmakers, from Stanley Kubrick to Christopher Guest.
3. What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?
KenJen™, AKA our mentors Ken Rus Schmoll and Jenny Schwartz. (KenJen™ for President 2016!) And getting to know seven whip-smart new colleagues. Also, hearing Sarah Benson talk about making a well-respected nonprofit theater company work awesomely without a subscriber base. Yes we can!
4. How have your dramaturgical skills developed over the course of the past nine months?
I think this is the biggest-scope play I’ve written in a long time, so these nine months taught me a lot about how much discipline I do and don’t have. It’s also the first time in many years someone (namely KenJen™, whom is technically composed of two individuals) said to me without any trepidation, “Oh if you have an impulse that your play needs ten actors you should definitely write it for ten actors,” which was like finding an oasis in a desert, or an honest person in politics. Rare and refreshing.
5. Seventeen years in the Lab has produced some pretty great plays. Looking over them, do any stand out to you?
Amy Herzog’s 4000 MILES is the kind of play I often wish I could write, intimate and honest and simple (in an amazing way). I’d read anything by many past writers in the group; Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Josh Conkel, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Janine Nabers are some faves.