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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Feb 6, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1024: Jordan Jaffe

Jordan Jaffe

Hometown: Houston, Texas.

Current Town: New York, NY

Q:  Tell me about Whirlwind.

A:  I would describe Whirlwind as an romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the inherent conflict that sometimes emerges between efforts to fight global warming and the need to protect wildlife. The humor of the play comes from awkward nature of the main characters and their difficulties interacting with each other as well as the precarious compromises they need to make in regard to our energy choices. And if you like bird puns, this is the show for you!

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  I think Whirlwind would make a great movie. Just putting that out there into the universe. In addition to working on further plays in my energy series I'm also making a jump into the foreign policy arena with a play about royalty relations in the Middle East.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  My favorite place to play as a child was the long hallways of my mom's office at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. It's funny looking back as an adult what a shaping experience it was for me as a child to literally grow up around a think-tank. I'm not saying you can learn about energy policy through osmosis or running around the square corridor on the third floor there, but being around that space, walking past pictures of Secretary Baker with Presidents and the world leaders who would visit the institute, and passing the piece of the Berlin Wall that stands in front of the building every day imbued me with a tremendous respect for our policymakers and the people who populate their inner circles and advise them.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  The theater community needs to think more seriously about the environment and sustainability.

On all of the productions I have produced (12 total, 10 in Texas, 2 in New York) each one obviously had a different set, different props, and we would buy things for each production, build the set, usually out of lumber, but then of course after the show we discard much of what cannot be used again. However, through all of this a terrible thought has seeped into my head as I was working on Whirlwind: Am I part of the problem? Deforestation is such a massive issue for birds and all sorts of creatures, so then exactly how many birds died so that I could have big fancy wooden sets for all my productions? I know this is an extreme line of thought, but somehow I can’t shake a feeling that all these years I’ve been destroying natural wildlife habitats for the sake of art.

As a theater artists I feel we have a growing responsibility to be a part of the solution when it comes to environmental issues, but in order to inspire change on greater level there are changes to our industry that should be considered. Our art needs to reflect changing attitudes toward environmental issues. To truly live green as an artist we need to create green. We need to think about our materials and off setting our usage of depleting resources just as much as a large corporation thinks about its C02 emissions. When that happens, perhaps real change can happen.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  David Mamet, Theresa Rebeck, Martin McDonagh, Leslye Headland, Beau Willimon, David Henry Hwang, Halley Feiffer, Paul Downs Colaizzo...I really could go on all day though!

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I like plays that shine a light on the general absurdity of our existence. As humans we have a really high level of pretension when it comes to whatever culture or train of thought we subscribe to, and I love work that shreds the completely arbitrary nature of our self-beliefs and shows just how ridiculous we really all are.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Write the plays you want to write. Fuck everything else.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Whirlwind is running at the Wild Project in the East Village through Sunday February 10th!

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