by Jeffrey James Keyes

Featured image for “Southies”
Jeffrey James





At the end of a late-night dinner party, Austin and Sean reminisce about eerie encounters in their formerly haunted home… or so they thought.




Jeffrey James Keyes, co-author of the New York Times Best Seller Killer Chef with James Patterson, holds an MFA from Columbia University’s playwriting program. His theater highlights encompass productions such as Kiki (Fresh Fruit Festival), The End of Days (SoHo Playhouse/New York International Fringe Festival), The Biltmore Academy (Chicago’s Prologue Theatre Company) and Imaginary Friends and Uniforms (OOB Festival). He’s produced the web series Out in GayCities with Lexus, Revealing (Sundance) and True Life (MTV). Keyes’ short films 181 and Uniform have featured in over thirty festivals. He was awarded the inaugural PEN America L’Engle/Rahman Prize for Mentorship in 2020 and his 24-Hour Plays monologue Safe Word was nominated for Best Digital Entertainment in The Queerties. Recently, he participated in PlayPenn’s inaugural Playwrights Cohort and Pipeline Theatre Company’s PlayLab.




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

I began writing plays during high school, continuing through college, though I kept them to myself. Writing held a constant allure for me, but the pivotal moment came during a junior year creative writing class at Pius XI High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My teacher, Mr. Martin, encouraged me to tap into something I didn’t realize I was capable of, granting permission to unleash my creativity. Despite a detour into performing and visual arts, I returned to writing shortly after college, finding my true focus once more.


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

I wrote Southies at a coffee shop near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The brownstones in the neighborhood reminded me of the story a family member told me about a haunting they experienced in Boston’s South End. I was inspired by this memory and ordered an iced coffee like a proper homosexual, and sat down to write this play.


What are five words that describe who you are as a playwright?



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

This changes year to year, but I would say Moisés Kaufman, Sam Shepard, Tennessee Williams and Lynn Nottage. I come from a strong background in experimental theatre and am definitely heavily influenced by Anne Bogart and Charles L. Mee, Jr.


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

My maternal family hails from Croatia, and we have a familial connection to the Titanic. Interestingly, my great grandmother was slated to embark on the ill-fated voyage alongside fellow villagers. However, due to the loss of a child, she opted for a later ship. Tragically, two of my other relatives, Mate and Tomo Pocrnić, among numerous third-class passengers, went down with the ship.


What are some of your favorite plays?

Nassim, Rabbit Hole, Sweat, Euridyce, Primary Trust, Circle Mirror Transformation, The Laramie Project, Big Love. I most recently loved Stereophonic.


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

I’m currently writing my second book and adapting more of my ghost story plays into a short fiction horror series with AKS Immersive. Follow me on IG @jjkeyes and follow @drama_pod for updates our relaunch and more!

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