Jen is currently working on a documentary theatre project about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. If you’d like to tell your story, go to the Contact Me page and get in touch. All I want to do is listen.
Read more about the project in The East Village News Magazine by clicking on the image below.
FAQ (with answers from Jen)
I was born and raised in Michigan. I went to public schools in Grand Blanc, and I got my career start early at the Flint Youth Theatre. Ultimately, the artistic director of Flint Community Players at the time encouraged me to go to college to study theatre, helped me with my audition, and wrote a letter of recommendation. The rest, well, is history. Flint is a city I love, and its people and places made me who I am today.
What do I do?
I make nonfiction theatre based on real life issues and events. My most recent work, No Feedback, is about the forms of discrimination that lead to genocides. It premiered in London in May and is continuing development for additional performances in Budapest and the UK this summer.
Why does this story matter?
I’ve been following the recent water crisis in Flint with alarm. The ongoing story of Flint needs to be told and repeated and remembered throughout the nation. The people of Flint have truth to speak to power–theirs is a story of global implications.
What kind of research is done for a project like this?
I’m interested in the voices of those citizens on the frontlines–the individual stories that can too easily get lost in the historical record of events–and I hope that the core of my work will be taken from personal interviews.
How do you use interviews in theatre?
Interview-based (or verbatim) theatre uses the spoken words of really people as the play text. Verbatim plays have covered a huge variety of subjects from Hurricane Katrina to those exonerated from death row sentences. This kind of play preserves the voices of the people who are most impacted by an event, and most importantly, through performance, it gives others a present-tense experience that invites both empathy and action.
Will this work be entirely verbatim?
The work is in its very early stages, so interviews are the first step in creating a piece that shares the personal cost of the ongoing water issues in Flint with a wider audience. My goal is simply this: to use art and the power of live theatre to tell your stories–Flint’s story.
Where will the work be performed?
Though I’m still in the initial stages of the project, my goal is that the work would premiere in Flint and then roll out to other cities.
Can I trust you?
Any stories shared with me are confidential, and if they end up in some form in the final product, I would work closely to with the storyteller to protect identities and sensitive information. I’m not here to exploit anyone or to take sides. Those who are willing to share their stories would be partners.