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The Subtext: The Many Forms of Jen Silverman

This month Brian talks with the playwright of ‘The Moors’ and ‘Collective Rage’ about how writing for TV inspired her write a novel about the theatre.

Each month Brian James Polak talks to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In conversations that dive into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires and—ultimately—what makes writers tick.

On this episode, he chats with author, playwright, and TV writer Jen Silverman, a New York-based writer whose plays include Witch, Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties…, The Roommate, and The Moors. She is a member of New Dramatists, an affiliated artist with the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow, the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts grant, the Helen Merrill Award, an LMCC Fellowship, and the Yale Drama Series Award.

Jen talks about how her love for the theatre started as a simple curiosity about playwriting when she took her first class as an English major at Brown. Finding inspiration from teachers Emily O’Dell and Paula Vogel, and working on a production by then grad student Quiara Alegría Hudes, she fell in love with the form.

While discussing the allure of television for playwrights, Jen shares her belief in the importance of writers diversifying their creativity by working in multiple forms. As a published novelist, TV and screenwriter (in addition to being a playwright), she practices what she preaches. Indeed, leaving theatre to write for television inspired her to start writing We Play Ourselves, her recently released novel, which “started out as a love letter to the theatre.” She talks about finding the time in her new TV schedule to write the book, which evolved into a narrative about a promising young New York playwright who has a dramatic fall from grace and flees to Los Angeles in order to rediscover herself, or, more specifically, resolve who she has become.

Despite the release of her first novel and recent work in the film and television worlds, Jen’s love for theatre is unflinching. She talks about it being the place to which she most wants to be in the post-COVID times.

The episode can be found here.

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