I have enjoyed our diverse group of voices. I have enjoyed the moments when after reading these ladies or watching a video or film, I break out into laughter or tears – those moments when I am found…. There is nothing like being in a funk and have someone write “Oink! Oink!” or having to leave my desk to shake myself after reading “When Playwrights Get Old” which came about after “Too old?” left me numb and very contemplative. When I look in the mirror, I see me and have to remind myself that the first set of students at the university where I work my day job have graduated and are in their thirties now. The few that have stayed on in employment shock me when I run into them yet when I look in the mirror I don’t see age — I see me. One wonders if after all the “Taking Stock” we do if a change is gonna come – ever – but we keep hoping and pushing and fighting for that “Stillness” that drives us.
The goal is to be a working artist. By that I mean, you don’t have to have a day job to pay the rent, pay for submission fees, or afford you food while you write. Living in near poverty to be an artist should be against the law especially because that same art could end up being a national treasure; the following terms are not interchangeable: “Working Artist – Donating Artist – Surviving Artist“.
Zora Neale Hurston author of Their Eyes Were Watching God died in poverty; her work was rescued from a fire after her death (Florida had a habit of burning the belongings of the dead). Zora Neale Hurston’s life work is a national treasure…
There should be no limitations or rules on where or in what form a writer creates story as there are no rules to who can be “The Happiest Person in America” or one of the happiest people – let us do our art and we are there… Gender does not dictate what shared work will change the world in some way — “And The Female Play at the Tonys was…” and it should not dictate who has access to the stage, the screen or the bookshelf. Great stories all start the say way — with words and the “Voice…” of the writer. All are needed, each soprano, alto, tenor and bass… There should not have to be “The Bechdel Test for the Stage“; there should not have to be a Bechdel test at all – why can’t all stories worth telling be treated equal? Why can’t the journey be easier? Why can’t handling “Our Expectations, Our Fears” as artists be easier? Perhaps even this tug-of-war on gender parity fits into the “Everything Is A Creative Act” category; it is, after all, fodder.
I especially like what Pulitzer Prize Finalist playwright Lisa Kron said at the last Dramatists Guild Conference “Having Our Say: Our History, Our Future” about what she does when something rubs her the wrong way “I’m going to write a play about this” — The Veri**on Play is what resulted.
Just wondering, do you have any favorite LA FPI blog articles?
Bloggers Past and Present:
Jessica Abrams, Tiffany Antone, Erica Bennett, Nancy Beverly, Andie Bottrell, Robin Byrd, Kitty Felde, Diane Grant, Jen Huszcza, Sara Israel, Cindy Marie Jenkins, Sue May, Analyn Revilla, Cynthia Wands and special input by Laura Shamas and Jennie Webb.
I just finished up my blog week, so this makes me feel so self-indulgent.
How did you become a playwright? What brought you to theater?
It was all a big mistake actually. I should be a screenwriter with a house in the hills and a BMW. I studied screenwriting in college but jumped over to playwriting because the playwrights were cooler than the screenwriters.
What is your favorite play of yours? Why?
My favorite play is always the play I finished most recently. My most recent play is a short play called Rebec, CA, and it brings a smile to my face. I smashed a smartphone in that one. I also recently wrote a longer play called Bury That Horse, and it’s about kicking and kissing.
What is your favorite production of one of your plays? Why?
My favorite production is my first production of my first play, Viper, back at NYU. That was the play that opened it all up for me. It was done in the Dramatic Writing Festival of New Works, and it had an outstanding director, cast, crew. It was beautiful both in process and result.
By the way, shout out to Gary Garrison who produced the New Works Festival back then. He did an outstanding job of surrounding my play with great people.
What play by someone else has moved you the most and why?
Back in the 90s, I saw Letters from Cuba by Maria Irene Fornes at the Signature Theatre in New York and was crying like a baby at the end because it was so beautiful. Fornes also directed the production.
Who is your favorite playwright? Why?
This is a hard one. I have a core team of playwrights that I love. If I get stuck when I’m writing, I call the team—I’m speaking metaphorically since most of my team is dead.
How has your writing changed over the years?
My plays have become less expensive to produce.
What type of plays do you write? (Dramas, Comedies, Plays with Music, Musicals, Experimental, Avant-garde …) What draws you to it?
Crazy, sexy, cool plays. I love physicality. I love writing plays set outside. I love comedy, but I don’t set out to write comedy. I believe experimentation should be done in playwriting. Otherwise, what’s the point? I write women, men, animals. I’ve even gone into vegetables a few times, but they’re hard.
Do you write any other literary forms? How does this affect/enhance your playwriting?
Yes, I have written long form prose, novels, screenplays, musicals, blogs, essays, short stories. Long form prose & novels: big canvases, I’m comfortable with the epic. Screenplays: condense. Musicals: respect for the lyrical, comfort with the drama in music, impatience with over-sentimentality. Blogs & essays: cohesive thought, what do I want to say. Short stories: character depth.
Why did you become a blogger for LA FPI?
It seemed like a fun thing to do.
What is your favorite blog posting?
Back in January 2012, I wrote about the Kobayashi Maru Scenario.
Do you have a writing regiment? Can you discuss your process?
I don’t have a writing regiment, but I do have a reading regiment. I read daily.
How important is craft to you?
I used to think craft was not important, then I read play submissions for a variety of theatre companies. Yikes. I can be experimental, but I have a grounding in craft. Writing is no different from anything else. If you want to crochet a scarf, you need to learn the stitches. If you want to paint, you need to learn line and color. Craft is the basics. I also have found that craft comes in handy when you’re developing scripts with actors and directors.
What other areas of theater do you participant in?
I’ve worked box office for a variety of theatres. Trust me, box office is not a cushy job.
How do you feel about the theater community in Los Angeles?
Great acting pool.
Do you have a theme that you come back to a lot in your work?
I have a bag of tricks. There are things I go back to again and again, but I don’t reflect a lot on recurring themes or ideas. Maybe when I’m older, I’ll look back, but I’m not in a looking back stage right now.
What are you working on now?
I am writing a play for an actor friend of mine. It has death and kissing. That’s really all I can say. I’m in the middle of it.
Jen Huszcza is a playwright currently based in Los Angeles.
She has a BFA in Dramatic Writing and an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU. After graduating from college, she stayed in New York and worked a variety of day jobs including video librarian and study guide writer. She eventually moved to Los Angeles for better weather and more trees.
Out in Los Angeles, three of her plays have been presented as staged readings in the Monday Night Living Room Series at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood. Also at the Blank, she was an Associate Producer on Michael John LaChiusa’s See What I Wanna See, and she was a Weekly Producer and Playwright Mentor for the Young Playwrights Festival.
She wrote and acted in Gunfighter Nation’s collectively written piece, LA History Project: Pio Pico, Sam Yorty, and the Secret Procession of Los Angeles, presented at the Lost Studio.
She is a script reader for a variety of theatre companies. She is a member of the Playwrights and Directors Lab at the Actors Studio West.
In addition to plays, she has written ad copy, film reviews, blogs, bad poetry, screenplays, a novel, and several short stories.
She has heard numerous pronunciations of her last name, but the one she prefers is Hooo-zhah.