Every season, we invite new theater artists - actors, directors, playwrights or designers - to join Partial Comfort Productions. And as the company roster grows, the talent and complexity of the company grows as well. This season, we are pleased to announce director Stephen Brackett, actor Crystal Finn, actor Jordan Mahome, and playwright Jonathan Caren are now Partial Comfort company members. WELCOME!
New member Jon Caren's play THREE is featured for our third installment in the Welcome Mat this Sunday at The Wild Project. Jon is in his 2nd year in the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program at Juilliard. His works have been featured at a number of different theaters in New York - EST, Ars Noval, The Atlantic Theater Company to name a few. His musical FRIENDS IN TRANSIENT PLACES (initially presented in the Juilliard School's Playwright's Festival) has gone on for a 2nd presentation with Ars Nova. Jon's pay LET ME GO won him considerable attention; he was recognized as a finalist for the Kennedy Center and Princess Grace Award in honor of his work on the play.
THREE was one of the many highlights from our summer retreat. Although we consider most scripts presented during that week to be in development, there was something so polished and well-balanced about THREE. At the same time, this play outlandish funny, touching, and unpredictable. We're thrilled to have Jon on board and thrilled to have a chance to work on this play once more.
1. What brought you to Partial Comfort and what made you decide to be a member?
One of the things I value most about the theater is being a part of a community. For me it is not unlike group therapy. I don't have AA because I'm not an alcoholic so I need some other activity to commune with people. When I met the PC folks, I was like Holy Shit, so these are the people creating fearless work without anyones' permission. I love the make-up of the company and the environment Chad and Molly have cultivated. And props to Greg Keller for guiding me in the right direction. At the retreat I was instantly treated with (partial) comfort. And that felt great and helped me come out of my protective turtle shell.
2. For those of us who weren't at the retreat this summer, tell us a little bit about THREE and what we'll be seeing this Sunday.
The play is a meditation on fear and ways to cope with it. The story begins with a perfect couple about to have a baby. But their relationship unravels when an old friend brings their biggest nightmare to the surface. I won't give away any more details except to say there's an energy healer who may or may not be in a cult and a giant dream baby wreaking havoc on his soon-to-be parents. I think fear can pretty hilarious when it's unwarranted, and a little tragic when it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. so the play is a ride in tone, from the absurd to the realistic... I like to play with tone. It keeps the audience awake.. Just when you think you can pigeon hole the play it'll trick you.
3. I know you were writing in LA for awhile before relocating to New York. Has there been a shift in your experience as a writer now that you're here?
I was in New York years ago writing plays and due to my unbearable fear of sucking, moved back home to Los Angeles and thought I'd give up playwriting. But I kept going back to small theaters in L.A and eventually took a play to the Fringe. Miraculously, it won an award there and I think that's what finally made me believe in myself. Being back in New York, it's been all about the community. I'm so inspired by watching other writers' plays --and it's making me a far better writer. Just the idea that you can go see a free reading almost every day of the week is kind of mind blowing. I do like movies and TV, and I'm lucky to have been able to work a little in those mediums, but they are inherently tailor made for mass audiences. With theater, you get a singular voice, pouring out the naked truth and a team of artists putting life to that voice before your eyes. My level of respect for the process and the people who dare to do it has grown exponentially.
4. Any exciting new projects on the horizon?
I have a play called THE RECOMMENDATION that I'm really excited about. There's a reading of it coming up at The Lark with William Jackson Harper and Craig "MuMs" Grant. And I am in midst of a new play loosely based on the tragic lives of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, two golden artists who were madly in love, but after Jeremy grew more successful than Theresa, she committed suicide, and soon after so did he. At least that's my fictitious interpretation, but I'm exploring the idea of success as a sickness in our culture.
Join us for The Welcome Mat, week 3 featuring Jon's play THREE, this Sunday at 7pm at The Wild Project!