About

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JEAN
Sometimes I think I can get someone to fall for me just by focusing on them
just by staring at them
sometimes I think I can get someone to want me just by willing it
sometimes I think the world is just a series of things
unfolding from the darkest corners of my brain
from all my desire
that I’m calling all the shots
and everything happens just the way I want it to

MERIL
No...

JEAN
I do
I do
Mer
sometimes I think I’m a fucking witch
I’m a fucking witch
I’m a witch
I’m a witch
I’m a fucking witch, Mer
so are you

about the play, from the playwright

As a writer, I am very excited about writing for actors. I believe theatre is a collaborative medium that comes alive inside the bodies and voices of actors, a world made rich by the efforts of so many artistic voices. I am a writer driven by questions, images, music, character. But most of all - I follow my unconscious, using the play itself to reveal what it is trying to say to me.

I’ve wanted to write a play about female friendship for awhile now. At first, I was interested in exploring a different kind of toxic, deeply enmeshed friendship between girls, but I quickly realized this play wanted to be a love letter to a different type of relationship - a best friend, a friendship that has spanned decades and locations, romantic entanglements and family. As I investigated my own adolescence, I realized how much beauty and warmth I have been lucky to experience in my life, paired alongside pain and toxic relationships.

My work concerns womanhood, female sexuality and what it means to grow up as a girl, among other things. I am thrilled by the work I’ve seen on stage that surrounds young women, but I can’t help feel we still have a gap in our theatrical landscape: plays that investigate the horrors of young womanhood, the entanglements, the fear and mystery, right alongside the joy and euphoria. 

be mean to me came from all these questions - unfolding in a way that surprised me: it started as a love letter to my best friend and ended up a horror play. I let the mystery of my process be prevalent for this play, allowing the scenes come out in the order and form in which they wanted to, sharing with Calista and Chandler along the way, reading scenes in person or over Skype when I was out of town or at a workshop.

When I had a full first draft this summer, we read it for trusted friends, and I’ve been working on it this year as a Jerome Fellow in Minneapolis, even bringing the team out to workshop at the Playwrights’ Center with their support. I am so grateful to Chandler and Calista for providing an opportunity to create this new play for them - it is because of them that it exists. Now that Sarah is guiding us alongside our terrific collaborators, I can’t wait to see Jean and Meril alive on stage with design and production elements! 

 

about the play, from the actors

Actors are interpretive artists. Simply put, the more we know about the circumstances and lives of our characters, the better we can interpret. Professional actors, however, are rarely given the opportunity to develop characters from a project’s inception. Production-wise, we are usually hired last, leaving us limited time and means to explore and fill out our roles as thoroughly as we’d like to.

Back in college, we started a theater company to address this issue, bringing together an ensemble of writers and actors to produce new work. Over the course of three years, our rambunctious, ambitious, and earnest crew of playwrights and performers created two full-length plays, one of which was taken to New York Fringe. As we had hoped, the experience of workshopping a play and a role with a playwright was invaluable. We got to read every draft of the play, learning about the scenes, storylines, and dialogue that were ultimately cut from the final script. We got to watch our characters grow and change into their final draft iteration. This collaborative and scrappy process brought an ease and naturalness to rehearsals; it felt like we’d been inhabiting our characters’ skins for years already.

Jump to 2017. We are both working actors in New York. We are frustrated with the sparsity of young female roles -- intrepid and interesting female roles! -- as well as our lack of access to them. So, inspired by our college days, we came up with something unconventional: we decided to commission a new play.

We conducted a long search in the fall, and in November, the talented Sofya Levitsky-Weitz came on board as our playwright. While the two of us applied for a grant to get the project off the ground, Sofya started drafting. For inspiration, she asked us about our favorite roles, our dream roles, our weird little hidden talents, our passions, our politics, and our pasts. As she wrote, we compiled the beginnings of a production team.

be mean to me centers on the close friendship between two young women growing up in Northern California. Both women have been manipulated and damaged by destructive male relationships. Neither of them realizes the extent of the scarring until years later, when, during a reunion in their hometown, old memories resurface and come alive again. This is a story of friendship, of the intimacy and dependence that develops between two 17-year-old girls sitting in the backyard, talking and talking. And it is a story of change, of growing apart and twisting together, of saying goodbye and hello and goodbye again.

It has been eighteen months since we began this project, and we are over the moon to finally bring it to life.