Thursday, February 20, 2014

Director Jenna Worsham talks about Middle Voice's Room for One

Jenna Worsham
"My approach is to always ask whose story we're telling for any given moment..."
- Jenna Worsham, 
Director 

How did you become involved in Room for One?

Alec (Silberblatt) and I first met in 2012, when he joined The Middle Voice Theater Company. I knew him first as a gifted actor, as well as an invaluable company member (he was the production assistant on the last show I directed, and I don't know what I would have done without him). I was first introduced to his writing when we did a workshop of a very early draft of this play, I think it was over a year ago. I immediately responded to his rhythm, his perspective, and his style-- I thought "I want to work with him." I don't know if I've ever met anyone as self-less as Alec, who is at the same time uniquely talented and possesses conviction. I think that kind of person is very rare. 

What is your approach to collaboration and working with a playwright?

I love playwrights. My approach is to first see if I'm a good fit for them - which is not very difficult when I ask myself if I respond to their voice. Does their rhythm, their style fascinate and excite me? Am I compelled by the questions they ask and the stories they choose to tell? Will my own voice compliment theirs? I'm very straightforward as a director, which I think also makes it easy for them to know early on if we're a good fit for their work. I think if you're a good match, beat for beat, then collaboration is a natural dialogue between you. I guess you could say my approach is to always ask whose story we're telling for any given moment in a play, and if the playwright agrees (or agrees after a conversation is had) then it's the right story. 

How did you come to directing?

I switched to theater half-way through college (I'd started pre-med so it was a bit of a turnaround). I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with it, I just knew I belonged on that side of campus. Then my junior year I directed a one-act, which I thought was the most brilliant thing ever, anywhere. In retrospect it was terrifying and I'm glad it wasn't recorded. But I still remember that feeling opening night, when people saw the thing we'd made, the thing I'd envisioned, and I remember feeling the wave of the audience react to the story I'd crafted. I felt them laugh and I felt them be moved, and most of all I felt them understand. It was like I'd finally discovered how to articulate myself. It was odd and fantastic. And I said "This is me. This is what I'm going to do." I liked to tell human stories and I liked to live in them, but the thing I liked most was to do both-- and that I think is what directors do. 

How do you approach your career?

Right now I'm 25, so my main approach is to say yes. Whatever comes my way. And I've been really lucky with assisting opportunities, and getting to learn from some of the best directors in the business. Working with The Middle Voice has also given me the space to discover my craft in ways I think young directors really need, and rarely get. 

What's next?

What's literally next: I'm assisting Pam Mackinnon on a new play at MTC this spring. Very very ecstatic about that. And I'll be co-directing an imaginative and nontraditional production of Twelfth Night with the remarkable Daniel Talbott this spring/summer/fall. It's a co-production with Rising Phoenix Rep and The Middle Voice, and I can't wait to dive in! 

 Performances begin at 8pm on Wednesday through Saturday, with additional performances at 1pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday. Tickets can be reserved at www.roomforone.eventbrite.com and/or by emailing Jaime Jaget at jjaget@rattlestick.org. All tickets are free with a suggested donation of $5. Tom Noonan's Paradise Factory is located at 64 East 4th St b/t Bowery Street & 2nd Avenue.

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