Beech. Oak. Iris.
When people know you as the ugly-as-sin, child-eating witch of the forest, you don’t get many visitors—at least not willing ones. So when 12-year-old Natasha flings herself through Baba Yaga’s front door, the old witch is taken aback by the girl’s curious ambivalence toward her fate and by her general curiosity. As Baba Yaga prepares to kill Natasha, she must reevaluate the story she has inhabited for centuries. A reimagining of the classic Eastern European tale.
Julianne Jigour’s plays have been produced by or developed with the Antaeus Playwrights Lab, PlayGround, Theater Masters, KCACTF, Central Works, and the HBMG National Winter Playwrights Retreat. She has received two commissions from Planet Earth Arts, one of which—BRIGHT SHINING SEA—received its premiere production with PlayGround in San Francisco, where it was a Theatre Bay Area Awards Recommended Production. She has twice received grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for science-themed TV pilots and has been a finalist for the Steeltown Film Factory competition. Julianne earned her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, where she received the West Coast Drama Alumni Clan Award for Dramatic Writing. She resides in Los Angeles, where she’s a proud member of the Playwrights’ Union, Antaeus Playwrights Lab, PlayGround-LA, and the Trap Street arts collective.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I was 13. I was quiet and shy, so it was often easier for me to find human connection and comfort in the arts than it was in everyday communication with peers. Literature was a great source of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual richness for me, and I knew I wanted it to be a significant part of my future.
While I saw theater growing up, I was never really a “theater kid.” I wanted to pursue fiction or poetry. When I was a junior in college, however, I took a playwriting class with the fabulous Brian Thorstenson, and the form clicked with me more than other forms of writing had. I loved exploring subtext and silences, and I loved collaborating with directors and actors. From that point on, I wanted to write for the stage.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I’m a member of PlayGround-LA, which—over the course of a six-month season—challenges its writers to compose short plays in response to a given prompt each month. This play began as a response to a prompt to rework a fairy tale. Two things led me to Baba Yaga: (1) I have Russian heritage, so I’ve been familiar with the tale since childhood, and (2) my psychotherapist studies the archetype of the witch, and over the course of our work together, I’d grown interested in witches and how history and patriarchy have shaped their stories.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Collaborative. Empathetic. Dark. Environmental. Whimsical.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I was really into southern gothic literature through high school and college, especially Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCullers. The darkness and creepiness of that genre, the exploration of alienation and loneliness, the freaks—all of these elements influenced me, though they may not all be readily apparent in my work. In undergrad, I also spent a fair amount of time studying portrayals of the female body in women’s poetry, and my plays often explore in some way how women relate to their bodies and sexuality.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I’ve been eating canned smoked oysters since I was a kid. As an adult, I find that most people I encounter think this is repulsive.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Jenny Schwartz’s GOD’S EAR, Annie Baker’s THE FLICK, Rebecca Gilman’s BOY GETS GIRL, Martin McDonagh’s THE PILLOWMAN, Paula Vogel’s HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, Edward Albee’s WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? among many others. One of my favorite theatergoing experiences of the past couple years was Center Theater Group’s production of Lucas Hnath’s DANA H.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
Trap Street, the performing arts collective I work with in LA, has been developing a podcast featuring short audio dramas. Please check out The Radiograph wherever you get your podcasts!