“Jilt”: New Action for a Post-Rape Culture Play

Thanks to Lainnie Felan for finding this amazing image – perfect for JILT

So it’s always nice when a play that means a lot to you gets a bit of action and attention. In the best of all possible worlds, that means getting a chance to explore with new artists, in a new situation that reveals different aspects of the play.  And in the case of my play Jilt, which is set in a “Post-Rape Culture,” different aspects of the world.

Desiree Mee Jung and Nadège August with director Rachel Berney Needleman

Unfortunately, Jilt is one of those plays that seems to be getting more and more relevant. It’s a very dark comedy about the need to speak out against injustice, even when everyone’s telling you there’s absolutely nothing wrong. It takes an unexpected look at the power and fluidity of language, gender identity, sexuality and celebrity.  Many, many thanks to director Rachel Berney Needleman and dramaturg Heather Helinsky who spearheaded the efforts to get this play in shape and out there in 2017! 

It was so terrific working with Rachel and actors Reba Waters Thomas, Jennifer A. Skinner, Desiree Mee Jung, James Liebman & Nadège August, and a team headed by creative producer Elena Campbell-Martinez, to explore Jilt on its feet in April as part of the Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series.

Then, I was fortunate enough to take the play – after more than a few re-writes – to the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha, Nebraska at the end of May. This was my second time at the Conference (my play Crazy Bitch was included in 2014) and I was more than excited to take advantage of this amazing opportunity once more.  I mean, there’s a reason that playwrightss want to get invited back to GPTC, over and over again. Well, a lot of reasons.

Mary Kelley, Bethany Bresnahan, Francesca Hogan & Michael Castillo in rehearsal.

I’ll put it out there that I’m not a big lover of “Conferences,” per se. I’m not an academic (as you can probably tell if you’ve read or seen Jilt 😉 ), I’d rather take action than talk about it, and I shy away from panels of experts trying to out-smart one another.

While GPTC does host a panel or two (actually involving generous and interesting artists – go figure!), this 10-day event isn’t really focused on experts, it’s about new plays and playwrights. It was fantastic for me to work face-to-face and hands-on with Heather Helinsky, one of my favorite dramaturgs, along with director Colleen O’Doherty and a group of wonderful local actors on a Jilt. I also received invaluable, active feedback from my fellow conference playwrights, as well as guest artists including Constance Congdon and Kate Snodgrass.

Heather & rainbow revisions

But more than that, the Conference was a time of meeting new playwrights, re-connecting to others, and spending time getting to know a range of new work through readings and in workshops. I am now a fan of more playwrights than I can list here; after some really surprising workshop sessions, I can unabashedly say that am in love with Kristen Kosmas, Mac Wellman & Meghan Finn.

And now, along with every other playwright I know, I’m typing with crossed fingers for an invitation back. Many thanks to all who have given love and support to Jilt in one way or another – I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon… somewhere!


with Skye Robinson Hillis and Carrie Barrett and a few cocktails

A few of awesome theatre artists – I think we had to evactuate during a gas leak.

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