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Gina Femia.

The Subtext: What Makes Gina Femia Run

This month Brian talks to the Brooklyn-based playwright about fighting back against abuse, hustling past gatekeepers, and finding her authentic voice.

Each month Brian James Polak (he/him) 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.

This month Brian has a conversation with Brooklyn native Gina Femia. Her work has been seen and/or developed at MCC Theater, Playwrights Horizons, EST, Page 73, Playwrights’ Center, Center Theatre Group, Theatre of NOTE, and Panndora Productions, among others. Her plays include Allond(r)a, This Happened Once at the Romance Depot Off the I-87 in Westchester, The Mermaids’ Parade, For the Love Of, and The Violet Sisters. She is a 2019-2022 Core Writer with the Playwrights’ Center, and an alum of EST Youngblood, Page73’s Interstate 73, Pipeline Theatre’s PlayLab, New Georges’ Audrey Residency, Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Plays Lab, and Parsnip Ship’s Radio Roots Writer’s Group. Femia is a New Georges Affiliated Artist and has received residencies with Page73, Powerhouse, NTI at the O’Neill, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Fresh Ground Pepper. MFA, Sarah Lawrence College (Lipkin Prize in Playwriting).

With Brian, Gina discusses growing up in Brooklyn and being one of the few playwrights who hasn’t strayed far from her home to explore a career. She talks about how playwriting gave her agency in her early adulthood. Bullied as a teen, as a young woman she found herself in back-to-back abusive relationships that she failed to truly understand until years later, eventually writing about the experiences in her solo work I Fucking Hate Shakespeare.

A pivotal moment came when taking a playwriting class taught by Crystal Skillman, who asked Gina, “What are you running from?” The question triggered her to connect with her writing voice for the first time, resulting in the play Super, or How Clark Graves Learned to Fly.

Gina admits that she struggled for years to connect with professional representation but found herself winning awards, receiving productions, and gaining the attention of the Kilroys when her play Allond(r)a was included on their 2019 list. The hustle eventually paid off: She found an agent right before the pandemic hit.

The episode can be found here.

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