Freestyle Hand Entry
by Elise Wien

Featured image for “<em>Freestyle Hand Entry</em><br> by Elise Wien”



Ches recounts their attempts to get to a bag of Bugles stuck in the vending machine in the JCC rec room.




Elise Wien is a writer who likes to make her plays like cakes – with a frosting of slapstick comedy, a moist inner layer of complex emotional landscape, and a molten core of ethical dilemma (OPEN WIDE). Her plays include Osher & The Infinite Curtain (Residency, VoxLab), OTP (Production, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), [cowboy face] (Winner, Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting; Finalist, Leah Ryan Fund for Emerging Women Writers), Craters, or the making of the making of the moon landing (Production, Smith College; Reading, Corkscrew Theater Festival). She is a recent graduate of Boston University’s Playwriting MFA program.



1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?


I started writing plays in college – after playing with lots of genres (which I still enjoy), I found that I liked the collaborative nature of theater writing best.


2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?


In grad school we had a class called Writing Sexualities with Gary Garrison – the character of Ches is from a longer piece that I began in that course, about Nana, Papa, and Ches waiting to be picked up from the JCC rec room. I was on the JCC swim team growing up and love the setting as one that feels steeped in discomfort (pre-teens in bathing suits) and spirituality (there are Talmudic books in this building).


I’m interested in the contrast between Nana and Papa feeling BIG FEELINGS and having physically frail bodies. I’m also interested in characters who find new goals and desires late in life, and unexpected kinship between Nana, Papa, and Cy as characters of different ages who are all experiencing some sort of bodily awakening.


3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?


internetty, Jewish, goofy (serious), trying!!


4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?


My MFA cohort! Contemporary artists who do cool things with the internet, personal memory, family stories, visual art.


5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?


Despite being beautiful, I have pretty bad dandruff.


6. What are some of your favorite plays?


You For Me For You by Mia Chung, one in two by Donja R. Love, import_speech_memory by Lucas Baisch, Indecent by Paula Vogel, Year of the Rooster by Olivia Dufault, Public Obscenities by Shayok Misha Chowdhury that just closed at Soho Rep, which was such a master class in creating a play that’s an ECOSYSTEM and was just a really good reminder of the vast and unspeakable beauty of the theater!!


7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?


The full-length of this piece, working title: CORN CHIP (if i’m made in God’s image howcome i’m so ugly?), is in development with Under Construction Playwrights Group at The Road Theater. It will have a reading in December of 2023.