We Jump Broom
Mildred Inez Lewis
With the threat of a sale looming, two enslaved women, Winny and Nell, decide to marry under the stars.
MILDRED INEZ LEWIS writes and directs for theater, film and the digital space. A Dramatists Guild member, she writes with the Antaeus, Company of Angels, EST-LA, PlayGround-LA and Towne Street Theatres. Upcoming productions include THE WOMENS ANNEX at Central Works (Berkeley, CA) and JUKED at A Noise Within. Recent productions include GHOSTS OF BLACKNESS commissioned by the Harlem9, Lucille Lortel Foundation and National Black Theatre. MEETS PRINCE, LOVES FROG with the Feminist Fairytale podcast series. $10 AND A TAMBOURINE podcast with Antaeus Theatre (2021 Ambie nominee) and THE PEACE OF HOME, The Road Theatre Summer Playwrights Festival. She wrote and directed CAST ME! which screened at Outfest and Outfest Fusion. Publications include THE GIFT with Broadway Play Publishing and ROOST FIRST, THEN FLY in Applause Books’ 2020 10-Minute play collection. Awards include the L.B. Williams Award (New Circle Theatre), PLAY LA (Humanitas) and Samuel Goldwyn Creative Writing Award (UCLA).
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 as a stage director, then went to UCLA’s film school. Making films in LA without a car was a challenge, so I started writing screenplays in order to graduate. I began writing plays about six years ago. Unlike the writing I’d done for film and the digital space, theater gave me the opportunity to explore difficult ideas, complex people and elevated language.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I was inspired by a prompt from PlayGround-LA which gives you four (!) days to come up with a new play. A reading with Towne Street Theatre helped me to flesh out the language. My goal was to write a piece that was romantic without abandoning the cruelty of the protagonists’ situation.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Truthful, violent, poetic, cinematic, nuanced.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
August Wilson. I am in awe of the scale of his work and its use of myth without sacrificing emotion or humor.
Dance, movement and images inform my work. I live between the theatrical and cinematic. When I write for stage, I want my work to do things that can only be done on stage and need to be experienced in community.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I’m a serious belly dancer.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Blood Wedding, La casa de Bernarda Alba, Dana H., Gem of the Ocean, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Nether, Trouble in Mind.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I’m expanding JUKED, my adaptation of Sophocles’ Electra. It is currently part of Noise Now!, a Towne Street production at A Noise Within. I’ve been commissioned by A Different Myth (https://bit.ly/3lyCavj) to write a full length version. My comedy THE WOMEN’S ANNEX inspired by George C. Wolfe’s THE COLORED MUSEUM will premiere at Berkeley’s Central Works this fall. My new dramedy pilot I-CLASS about a fallen Vine star who is forced to substitute teach at a high school modeled on City as School is looking for a home.