Directed by Penny Metropulos
This production is underwritten by Ilana Rubenfeld. Direction is underwritten by Beth Falkenstein. The actors are partially underwritten by Oregon Community Foundation.
What is the road that brought us here? Unemployed truck driver Eddie sits at a bar alone, recalling his final moments with wife, Ani, when a car accident turned the focus of their relationship from divorcing to caregiving. Overworked, under-qualified, and nearly homeless, Jess takes on another job to make ends meet – this time, as a personal caregiver for a wealthy and beautiful graduate student named John, who has cerebral palsy. The histories, influences, and challenges of four lives converge in the meeting of two strangers in a small, empty apartment in Bayonne, NJ.
Two years ago, in the middle of blizzard, while I was recently unemployed, recovering from bedbugs and a period of major displacement in NYC, I wrote a character named Eddie Torres. He talked to me about his grief and his perseverance. And his incredible longing. A month later, I was asked to write about “work” for a short-plays festival.
My immediate thought was to write about my present situation—that is, not working. The fear of not knowing how you’ll make it, the frenzy of applying for jobs when you have no financial safety net, nothing to hold you, while you wait on an answer. When your survival is on your shoulders alone. And the loneliness of it. Of not being valued. But instead I wrote a play that drew from my experiences as a personal caregiver to two different disabled men.
John and Jess were born out of my memories of another time of major economic struggle. And also a period of incredible longing. I met Ani a few months after writing John and Jess, in another short play. I didn’t know at first that these four characters would meet in one play. What started out as a collection of disparate stories of economic struggle fused into one of people searching for a deeper kind of survival.
|Jess||Valerie Anne Huntington|
|Stage directions||Samuel L. Wick|
The present. The urban East of America. Jersey.
Martyna Majok was born in Bytom, Poland, and aged in Jersey and Chicago. She was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Cost of Living (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club), which was a winner at ANPF’s 2016 Women’s Invitational.
Other plays include Sanctuary City (New York Theatre Workshop), Queens (LCT3/Lincoln Center, La Jolla Playhouse), and Ironbound (Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Round House, WP Theatre/Rattlestick, Geffen Playhouse, National Theatre of Warsaw, amongst other theatres in America and abroad).
Awards include The Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Play, ATCA Francesca Primus Prize, The Dramatists Guild’s Lanford Wilson Award, The Lilly Awards’ Stacey Mindich Prize, The Greenfield Prize (first female recipient in drama), Champions of Change Award from the NYC Mayor’s Office, Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play or Musical at The Helen Hayes Awards, The Ashland New Plays Festival Women’s Invitational Prize, The Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Award, Marin Theatre’s David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize, New York Theatre Workshop’s 2050 Fellowship, Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Project Prize, National New Play Network’s Smith Prize for Political Playwriting, two Jane Chambers Feminist Playwriting Prizes, and The Merage Foundation Fellowship for the American Dream.
Commissions from The Public Theater, Lincoln Center, The Bush Theatre in London, The Almeida Theatre in London, The Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, and Manhattan Theatre Club.
Publications by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, TCG, and Smith & Kraus. Residencies at Sundance Theatre Lab in Morocco, The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, The Vineyard Arts Project with The Public Theatre, Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Fuller Road, Marble House Project, and Ragdale.
She has taught playwriting at Williams College, Wesleyan University, SUNY Purchase, Primary Stages ESPA, NJRep, and as an assistant to Paula Vogel at Yale. Alumna of EST’s Youngblood, Women’s Project Lab, and the Core Writer program at Playwrights Center. Member of The Dramatists Guild, The Writers Guild of America East, and New York Theatre Workshop’s Usual Suspects.
Martyna was a 2012-2013 NNPN playwright-in-residence, the 2015-2016 PoNY Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center, and a 2018-2019 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.
She is currently writing two musical librettos, developing an original series for HBO and writing a film, also for HBO. BA: University of Chicago; MFA: Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School.
Penny Metropulos is a longtime director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In 20 seasons, her directing credits include Henry IV, Part One; The Philanderer; Lorca in a Green Dress; Antony and Cleopatra; As You Like It; The Tempest; The Night of the Iguana; The Good Person of Szechuan; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Death of a Salesman; and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
She also served as Associate Artistic Director for OSF for 12 seasons. Also for OSF, she co-adapted and directed William Saroyan’s Tracy’s Tiger; a musical adaptation of Comedy of Errors; The Three Musketeers; and Great Expectations.
Other regional directing credits include Arena Stage, Guthrie Theater, Westport Playhouse, Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Berkeley Rep, Portland Center Stage, Denver Center Theatre Company, The Acting Company, Syracuse Stage, and California Shakespeare Theatre.
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