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April 06, 2017

A Conversation with the Creative Team of PRESSING MATTERS


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Life is made up of a series of stories strung together; stories  that celebrate love, life and loss. Later this month producer Mary J. Davis will present the world premiere of Jennifer Jasper’s collection of short plays entitle Pressing Matters.  The play is directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt and will begin performances at NYC’s Theatre Row (good news for you NJ folks, there is parking right across the street) on April 15 through May 20, 2017.

According to the press release Press Matter is described as “A boxed-set of six quirky stories nestled into one evening. Seven words map the course of a young couple’s life. A young woman is on a perpetual quest to move forward with the help of her butler. A mother discovers parenting is an obstacle course in the modern age. Three generations of women find a common voice. Chloe and Essie remember. Passengers await their final destination. Jennifer Jasper's Pressing Matters wastes no words as she weaves tales in her own humorous and heartfelt storytelling style.”

Garden State Journal had a chance to speak with the Jennifer Jasper and Adrienne Campbell-Holt, the productions playwright and director.  

GSJ: How do you describe Pressing Matters?

JENNIFER JASPER: I would have to describe it as my own short play festival. There is not a central theme, but as the only writer, I think a thematic tone comes from my single voice. It’s a challenge to try to describe it like a full length play. They each explore a myriad of relationships through time and space. 

GSJ: What inspired you to write these pieces and include them in one night? 

JJ: Four of the plays were written for particular festivals with prompts. One of those pieces inspired a longer version and another became a monologue. I love the process of continuing to explore variations within a piece. The other two were written with this evening in mind. However, all six were written within an 18 month period, which I think, lends to the echoes and threads that create a cohesive set. 

GSJ: The plays seem to follow a progression of life  - which story do you most identify with at the moment and why?

JJ:  That’s a hard one. I am tucked in tight somewhere in all of my work. I would have to say, at this moment, Thanksgiving in July resonates the most with me. I have lost a couple of very dear friends in the past couple of years, including one in February.  My relationship with death needs some dealing with. 

GSJ: What is it you like about the short play format?

JJ:      I think I’m a minimalist writer to begin with. I have been an oral storyteller for years and do my editing in the moment of performance which lends itself to my brevity in my writing. But I do love the short play format because you have to figure out how be concise with your words and actions. It requires you to “get to the point.”

GSJ: What do you hope the audience feel when they walk out of the theatre?

JJ: A collection of thoughts to ponder. And hope they come back with a friend. 

GSJ: How did you and Jennifer first start working together?

ADRIENNE CAMPBELL-HOLT: Jennifer and I first connected last fall after our fantastic producer Mary Davis brought me on board.  We assembled a cast for a December read-through and have been developing the script together quite a bit in the past few months.

GSJ: What are the common themes that audiences will experience after seeing Pressing Matters?

ACH: The plays have quite a few resonant themes - coming-of-age, finding love/partnership, child-rearing, passing things down across multiple generations, and aging. In the design of the piece we've tried to echo and elevate these themes - and in rehearsal we've talked quite a bit about echoes of Our Town in this evening of plays.

GSJ: From a directed viewpoint, what are the benefits of directing a series of short plays vs a full length? 

ACH: I traditionally direct world premiere plays and musicals - this is actually my first time directing an evening of short plays. It's been a real treat though - and a nice change of pace - as it will be for audiences I believe.

GSJ: What do you hope the audience feel when they walk out of the theatre?

ACH: I hope audiences laugh, cry, and keep thinking about the pieces long after the house lights come up.

Pressing Matters is written by Jennifer Jasper and directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt

It will begin performances on Saturday, April 15 -May 20, 2017

It plays Tuesday at 7PM; Wednesday - Saturday at 8PM; Saturday matinee at 2PM; Sunday at 3PM; at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre (located at 410 West 42nd Street)

Tickets are $49 and can be purchased by visiting Telecharge.com or calling 212-239-6200. For more information, please visit, pressingmatters.info

Pressing Matters stars Ito Aghayere (Film: Logan Lucky. Playwrights Horizons’ Familiar), Molly Carden (EST’s Please Continue), Saum Eskandani (Off-Broadway: Disaster), Jenn Harris (NY: Modern Orthodox, Silence), and Genesis Oliver (Off-Broadway: Empathitrax). Creative team includes: Parris Bradley (Scenic Designer), Adrienne Perry (Costume Designer), Grant Yeager (Lighting Designer), Amy Altadonna (Sound Designer), Seth Kieser (Production Stage Manager), Jillian Cimini (Casting Director), Dailey-Monda Management (General Manager). Pressing Matters is produced by Mary J. Davis & MBL Productions.

 

 

               

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