On Tuesday Feb 18th, Artistic Director/Actor/Producer Jennifer Conley Darling joined us as a GUEST STAR for Isaac Rathbone’s play CHUB. LRR playwright Brandon Marianne Lee sat down with her after — electronically-speaking — to learn more about her and make some selfie magic.
1. Inspired by Ike’s piece this week, where did you grow up and what was your favorite toy?
I grew up in a small town in Michigan. I was an only child, so I found myself creating imaginary worlds with my toys. I had a pretty large Barbie collection. Some of them I kept in pristine condition and others I would ‘punk rock’ out. I’d cut their hair like Pat Benatar or remove an arm to give a more realistic world to live in. Looking back, the world I created was pretty twisted – – probably what led me to theater 🙂
2. How did you fall in love with theatre? How has that love changed over the years? Basically, we want to hear a love story…
When I was five years old, my mother got cast as Vera in ‘Mame’ at the local community theater. She took me to a rehearsal and I fell in love immediately. I loved seeing her transform into someone else. I loved the freedom theater seemed to allow – – freedom to be someone else, freedom to be silly and sexy all at the same time. I went to every subsequent rehearsal and sat quietly in the house for the entire process and attended every single performance. Riveted throughout. My first love. This love will never change.
3. Google tells me you are a woman of many trades. You’re an accomplished actress, production manager, producer and the Producing Artistic Director of terraNOVA. And congrats on terraNOVA winning the Caffe Cino Fellowship Award as part of the NYIT Awards! How do you choose your projects and prioritize? What are your career goals and goals for terraNOVA? You know, an easy question.
Well thanks for Google stalking me! You know you’re doing something right if you are Google stalk worthy 😉
As far as how I choose the projects I get involved in, particularly with terraNOVA, I try to choose those shows that scare me. I believe theater should challenge us so I look for the plays that scare me through their form or their content or their unproducability. These are the things I look for.
Career goals – I’d say my career goals are very much aligned with the goals for terraNOVA. We’ve begun expanding terraNOVA in every way. Our largest objective is to create offices in cities beyond NYC. We just launched our Chicago office and held a reading earlier this week to introduce us to the industry and general audience, so off we go! I’d like to see us in Detroit, LA, San Fran, Boston and beyond.
4. terraNOVA has a playwright group called Groundbreakers. Could you tell us more about that? How do writers get involved? How is it similar and differs from what we do here at Lather Rinse Repeat?
Groundbreakers Playwrights Group is part of our overall new play development process called Groundworks. Groundbreakers focuses on early drafts of scripts. We invite six playwrights to be part of the group each season through an open submission process. We form a review committee made up of alumni, producers, dramaturgs, directors, and terraNOVA’s artistic staff. Once selected, we hold 18 sessions where each playwright brings in one script three separate times and hears it read aloud with professional actors. We hold a feedback session tailored by the playwright facilitated by Associate Artistic Director, Jessi D. Hill. We also ask our writers to get heavily involved in the casting process. We believe writers should hone in on the qualities each of their characters need to possess and after each reading, a casting discussion is held on what worked and what didn’t.
5. Pimp your wares. Where can we learn more about you, terraNOVA, future projects?
You can check out terraNOVA at www.terranovacollective.org. We’re opening a co-production with Baruch Performing Arts Center in March of a gorgeous show called HUMAN FRUIT BOWL.