Introducing Jocelyn Bioh, playwright of BESTIES, premiering at this year’s Salon!

This year’s Salon is quickly approaching and we’re making sure to give you a taste of what’s to come every day until our opening night kick-off party on Monday, April 16th, where you can submit your name for the chance to direct one of 7 short plays written by 7 of New York’s most talented playwrights.  Jocelyn Bioh’s Besties is one of our plays inspired by the prompt, Will Work For _____.  Below, Jocelyn tells Co-Curator Dina Vovsi about Besties, what she wants to accomplish with her work, what she looks for in a director, and all about her job running through Times Square in Shrek ears saying, “It’s Shrektacular!”

Jocelyn Bioh

Dina: Tell us about your play in the Salon.

Jocelyn: My play “Besties” is a kind of fun/strange examination of all the things I can never understand about people – like why smart people do dumb things, how desperation manifests in one’s spirit and the innate need people have to keep up appearances. I wanted to take a stab at all of that in 10 minutes, so wish me luck, ha!

DV: Our theme this year is WORK FOR CHANGE.  We wanted to explore what we, as artists, work for.  What inspires you?  What do you hope to accomplish with your work both inside and outside of the theatre?

JB: I’m inspired by people and the amazing stories they tell that just also happen to be their lives.  From the President of the United States to the quiet woman who works in the back of the mail room, I’m so inspired by the series of events that led them there.  I hope that my work as an artist will allow people who never see themselves reflected on stage an opportunity to do so.  For a moment, they can feel that their stories, their lives and the obstacles they’ve survived were not in vain and even if they themselves are not brave enough to share their stories, they’ll still be heard.

DV: Most artists have day (or night) jobs to support themselves. Do you have a day job story you can share?

JB: Oh lord, I’ve worked everywhere in New York City – its amazing really!  While I’m currently working part-time doing coat check, I once worked for Dreamworks Theatricals promoting “Shrek The Musical.”  I walked through Times Square in a bright green shirt, Shrek ears headband and would hand out flyers to people saying fun catch phrases like “it’s Shrektacular!” or “Go see this show! It’s Shrek-sational.”…Some of my finest work, if I do say so myself.

DV: What do you look for in a director? 

JB: I look for a director who first of all I have a connection with and second of all knows what the heck they are talking about.  I prefer working with someone who will be honest with me and ask me the tough questions rather than just sitting back being a “yes man.” 

DV: Young directors are often told they need to meet playwrights in order to start directing in New York.  Do you have advice for our emerging directors on how to meet and cultivate relationships with playwrights?

JB: Well I know nothing about the kind of hustle it takes to become a working director in NYC, but I will say that all of the directors I’ve worked with are all wonderful artists who have volunteered to direct any and everything – small festivals, workshops, 10 minute plays, etc. all for little to no money.  I have seen a small production that a director has done amazing things and the next thing I know they are assistant directing a Broadway show. I say all this to say that talent is never ignored! Someone, somewhere is admiring you, so always give it what you got.

DV: What’s next for you?

JB: As an actor, I’m getting ready to do a workshop of my good friend Branden Jacobs-Jenkins new play at Soho Rep in a couple of weeks.  As far as my writing goes, I’m THIS CLOSE to finishing my first musical (woot!) so right now I’m focused on that – its very exciting for me.

Jocelyn’s play BESTIES premieres at the Working Theater Directors Salon on Sunday, April 22nd at the June Havoc Theater.  For more information about our Will Work For ____ play series, and about how to direct BESTIES or one of the other 6, visit our website or check out our Facebook page for more information!

Jocelyn Bioh is beyond thrilled to be a part of this year’s Working Theater Directors Salon! A proud native New Yorker, Jocelyn holds degrees in English and Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Theatre – Playwriting from Columbia University. Previous acting credits include: Seed (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (City Theatre – PA), American Schemes (SummerStage NYC), Neighbors (The Public Theater), and Lightskin/Darkskin which she co-wrote and starred in with Fire This Time Festival founding playwright Kelley Girod. As a playwright, Jocelyn has been produced at Columbia University, and she was a finalist in Southern Rep Ruby Prize Award for her play AFRICAN AMERICANS.

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