2015 Salon: Q&A with “Rebel Judy” playwright J. Julian Christopher

After a hiatus in 2014, the Working Theater Directors Salon is back for its 5th Anniversary, and back with a vengeance! We’re thrilled to launch our Artist Q&A series with playwright J. Julian Christopher, whose short play Rebel Judy will be part of our night of 7 short plays inspired by the theme “To Serve and Protect” and performed on Sunday, March 22nd at 7pm at The Wild Project.

Q: In writing for the Directors Salon, how did you interpret the prompt “To Serve and Protect” and how did it inspire your play, Rebel Judy?

A: Interestingly enough, the prompt chose me. When first given the prompt, I was clueless on what to write. A few times I tried to force words out and it just wasn’t working. As an exercise I decided to just write whatever I wanted to write, and suddenly the prompt infiltrated my brain and the theme presented itself in a different way than I had first interpreted. What came out, was how people within a minority group tend to protect each other at all costs, which in turn, serves that particular minority community. The characters, Tito and Allyn, connect by being part of the fringe of society. There is a commaraderie along with a mentor and student relationship. It’s essential to their continued existence.

J. Julian Christopher

2015 Salon Playwright J. Julian Christopher

Q: What personal significance does the phrase “To Serve and Protect” have for you?  

A: I’ve always felt well-protected by the LGBTQ community. I came out at age 16 and attended a LGBTQ youth coffeehouse on Long Island, sponsored by Pride for Youth. It was the first time I had ever spoken to someone out of the closet, and they happened to all be around my age. The moderators were excellent and provided me a space to go when I felt like the only gay kid in Levittown, Long Island.

Q: What are some key elements of a successful director/playwright collaboration?

A: Listening and the absence of ego. Those are the two key elements for me. It is important to have a director that will challenge you but will also listen to serve the vision for which the play was created. It is also equally as important for the playwright to listen to a director without the inside voice saying, “He/She wants to ruin my play!” It’s a give and take. A great director offers me so much insight and I cherish those relationships. Not every director is right for every playwright. It’s kind of like dating. Not everyone I date, I’m going to sleep with. HA! Was that too much? True though.

Q: How can emerging directors meet and develop a relationship with a playwright?  What has been your experience?

A: Honestly, just going to as many events as possible. Readings, workshops, performances… Making yourself known is really the key. In order to be a part of the community, you have to be in it. That’s really how I’ve met the people that have been influential in my theatre career.

Q: What are you up to next?

A: This summer I will have a one-night showing of my new musical ¡OSO FABULOSO & THE BEAR BACKS! with music by Steve Sclafani, in Queens. It’s a musical about a gay Latino bear named Oso Fabuloso who has recently been dumped by a two-timing daddy bear. He seeks the help of a therapist, Dr. Calvo, in order to deal with his depression. Dr. Calvo convinces him to use his gift of song to sing the blues away. Oso agrees to go on tour with his therapist/guitarist, along with his two best friends/backup singers, Gummy and Grizz.

Yeah… You’ll just have to experience it.

J. Julian Christopher’s Rebel Judy will be performed on Sunday, March 22nd at 7pm at The Wild Project as part of The 5th Anniversary Working Theater Directors Salon. Visit us on Facebook to find out how to RSVP and learn about all of the Salon events!

J. Julian Christopher (a.k.a Christopher J. Jiménez) received an MFA in acting from The Actors Studio Drama School at the New School (now called The New School for Drama). There he studied acting and appeared in various productions including TBAHoliday Movies, and The Karaoke Show (directed by Diane Paulus). Julian was awarded The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group Fellowship in 2009. He has become an internationally produced playwright with productions in NYC, Chicago, Montréal, and Melbourne. He has workshopped his plays at LAByrinth Theater, TerraNova Collective, and INTAR. Some of his plays include, Man Boobs, Nico was a Fashion Model, Locust Have No King,and Animals Commit Suicide. He is also the co-producer and co-writer of the hit web series, Bulk-The Series.

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