Despite being born as a clown, Felix lacks the skills to make it in entertainment, so he is placed in a domestic help position for Margaret, a woman consumed by the writing of a never-ending to-do list. Felix is eager to prove his worth by diligently taking orders and minding his own business, but his job performance begins to suffer when he discovers the children in Margaret’s backyard.
Julianne Jigour earned her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, where she received the West Coast Drama Alumni Clan Award for Dramatic Writing. Her plays have been produced by or developed with PlayGround, Moving Arts’ MADlab, Santa Clara University, Theater Masters, KCACTF, Bombay Theatre Company (Mumbai), 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. Her short play BEECH.OAK.IRIS. was a finalist for the 2020 Samuel French OOB Festival. Julianne 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. A member of the Playwrights Union, Playwrights Think Tank, Antaeus Playwrights Lab, and Trap Street arts collective, she resides in Los Angeles.
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 was a shy kid with a lot of social anxiety, so while other middle schoolers were attending school dances or hanging out at the mall, I was by myself memorizing Fiona Apple lyrics or completing my self-directed summer reading list with titles like The Bell Jar and The Virgin Suicides.
I wanted to be social with peers, but I instead satiated that need for connection by finding it in music, literature, and film. By the time I was 13, I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t discover playwriting until I was in college. Since I spent my youth obsessively listening to everything other people said and silently agonizing over what I wanted to say but couldn’t, it makes sense to me that I found a home in an art form where dialogue is often central.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I wrote this late one rainy night when I was living in Pittsburgh for grad school. As I sat on the porch and began to brainstorm, the images of a sad, inept clown and of children being locked out in the rain came to me, and then I wrote them into a situation together. I didn’t have a conscious agenda with the play, but I can see now how its characters came from parts of myself. I relate to Margaret’s absurd preoccupation with things that don’t matter. I relate to Felix’s timidity, to how he derives his sense of self-worth from pleasing others and to how that ultimately not only harms him but threatens to make him an agent of harm. And I think on a metaphorical level, all of us can relate-in at least some small way-to the children locked outside.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
dark, sensitive, uneasy, whimsical, longing
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
When I first got interested in writing, I read short stories and essays by my uncle, Mark Clevenger, who is an excellent writer. I learned a lot from the economy and specificity of his language, and he directed me to other short fiction writers I grew to love, like Flannery O’Connor and Amy Hempel. I especially enjoy writing short plays, and I think that comes in part from reading so much short fiction as I grew up.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
My parents, who are the best, have the same name: Robin and Robin Jigour. (They’re high school sweethearts as well—too cute.) My sister and I share Robin as a middle name; growing up, we had four little robin birds on our Christmas tree.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Jenny Schwartz’s GOD’S EAR, Rebecca Gilman’s BOY GETS GIRL, Martin McDonagh’s THE PILLOWMAN among others.
The premiere of Lucas Hnath’s DANA H in Los Angeles back in 2019 still haunts me.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I’m currently reworking a full-length play that explores purity culture on the backdrop of California wildfires. I’ve also been collaborating virtually with Bombay Theatre Company in Mumbai on their first short film project.