Too Much Lesbian Drama: One Star
Addison brings so much lesbian drama to therapy that her therapist needs a therapist. A ten-minute play about identity, love, and the unique connection forged with the person you pay to care about you.
Jessie Field (she/her) is an award-winning queer NYC playwright and director. She has written book and/or lyrics for numerous projects including Charlotte Lucas is 27 and Not Dead (Winner: Musicals Now Competition, O’Neill NMTC Semi-Finalist, SDSU Semi-Finalist), Madam President (workshopped at the New Musicals Lab at Ferguson Center), Ren Faire (being developed with Theatre Now), La Maupin (Winner: 2018 International MUT Competition, Winner: Audience Favorite – 2017 Fresh Fruit Festival) and Rachel (2018 JDT Lab Selection, Winner: Outstanding Musical – 2015 Fresh Fruit Festival, 2013 Harold and Mimi Steinberg Prize for Best Original Play). Jessie has also written the TYA straight play To The West, which was a finalist in the Growing Stage’s New Play Reading Festival and the school play at Randolph High. Jessie is a co-creator (with James Salem) of the musical webseries “Is This Art Now?” and she earned her MFA at NYU Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
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 started writing plays for performance in the backyard of my rural New Jersey home as a teen with some very dear and very bored friends of mine. It was all rather unconsciously done, and I went into college thinking I wanted to be an ACLU defense lawyer. This is because I was obsessed with the play Inherit the Wind. I took one theatre course on a lark in college and realized, “Oh, I am less infatuated with the law part and more with the play part of this play.” I immediately switched my major to theatre arts with a concentration in directing. As a director, I was dissatisfied with most of the work I was asked to direct and so ended up coming full circle back to writing. I love it very much and am grateful to not be a lawyer.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I graduated grad school into the extremely theatre-friendly year of 2020. Covid struck just before the presentation of our thesis musicals, and in lieu of performances we were granted extra classes on zoom. One such class was a playwriting salon, offered by Rachel Sheinkin, where we were allowed to present essentially anything we felt like presenting. A friend of mine, Brandy Hoang Collier, and I challenged ourselves to write ten minute plays with the aim of presenting them on the same day. We did, it was very fun, and that was the first draft of this play.
This piece was inspired by my first time in therapy, back in college. I was very bad at therapy. I am fundamentally a listener more than a talker, and a room focused entirely on speaking aloud my inner life was my nightmare. (…A nightmare I had actively sought out, brought upon myself, and refused to quit.) I never knew how to start. I would sit there for forty minutes of my forty-five minute session and deflect and/or try to get my therapist to talk about herself. She would not, as that was the opposite of her job, but it felt polite to continuously ask (it was not.) In the last five minutes of each session I would finally word vomit what I knew had been bothering me all along, and there would be no time to discuss it. Eventually, I learned how to talk about myself, but I often thought about those early sessions and have wondered how they felt to my poor, kind, therapist.
I also quit therapy to move across the country on four weeks notice for a theatre job, accompanied by a woman I was in love with who was not in love with me. That is the last thing this therapist ever heard about my life, which she had previously been receiving weekly updates on. I wondered should I send her a postcard?? To let her know how it all turned out? But of course, that’s an insane thing to do for a clinical doctor. So I wrote this play because I think it’s interesting how we feel about the human being hired to get to know and help us, and even more interesting to speculate how they might feel about us.
Also, in case my first therapist has stalked me after all this time, I should like to tell her that it all worked out okay, that I have always been grateful to her for the space she held for me, and that I am very happily continuing a chaotic and theatrical life rich with lesbian drama.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
We Need More Queer Joy.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
My teacher/mentors Mindi Dickstein and Rachel Sheinkin have had a profound influence on my competence and courage as a writer. I also owe a great deal of who I am on paper to my friends, James Salem, Brandy Hoang Collier, and Gabrielle Mirabella – all writers who inspire me, push me, and encourage me on the daily.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I play the trombone and the euphonium. Most people would not guess this, as most people do not know what a euphonium is (it is approximately a baby tuba and it’s extremely lovely.)
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
While Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee continues to hold a special place in my heart, it has since been usurped as my favorite by Indecent by Paula Vogel. Other favorites include Wolf Play by Hansol Jung, Howl from Up High by Mallory Jane Weiss (indeed, EVERYTHING by Mallory Jane Weiss), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard, and Love and Information by Caryl Churchill.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I’m currently primarily working on the full-length musical Charlotte Lucas is 27 and Not Dead in collaboration with James Salem. It’s a radically queer Pride and Prejudice adaptation centering the journey of Charlotte Lucas, who finds her own queer love story under the action of the original. We’re about to have a production with Piper Theatre Company in Brooklyn in June and July 2022! Check out my website (jessiefield.com) or my Instagram (@jsfieldtheater) for updates on what’s next.