Wednesday, January 2, 2013

5 Questions with Seth Rozin

The 10th reading in our FORUM "Soundings" series is JC3 by Seth Rozin. This reading will begin at 7pm on January 3, 2013, and will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dreyfuss Theatre, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ. Click here for directions. Click here for a printable map of the campus (the Dreyfuss Theatre is located in Building 9).

A new comedy by the author of Two Jews Walk into a War. Dr. Posner is a New York psychologist with a modest office, who finds herself treating three men who believe they are Jesus Christ. Having little success in treating them separately, she has the bright idea of calling them all together for a group session, where the myth and meaning of the life of Jesus is hotly debated and almost costs Posner her own life, until a startling revelation is made.

Seth Rozin is the author of several plays, including Men of Stone (produced by Theater Catalyst, nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play, published by Playscripts, Inc.), Missing Link (produced by InterAct Theatre Company, nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play), Reinventing Eden (produced by InterAct), The Space Between Us (readings at Abingdon Theatre and InterAct), Black Gold (National New Play Network rolling world premieres at InterAct, Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis, Prop Thtr in Chicago, Arts West in Seattle), Two Jews Walk Into A War… (NNPN rolling world premieres at Florida Stage, New Jersey Repertory Theatre, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, Shadowland Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, InterAct, Florida Studio Theatre, GEVA Theatre and Barter Theatre) and JC3 (developed at PlayPenn). He has also written the book, lyrics and music for a new musical entitled A Passing Wind: The (Mostly) True Story of Joseph Pujol, about the rise and fall of the world’s greatest “fartiste,” which received its premiere at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ inaugural Philadelphia Inernational Festival of the Arts in 2011. Seth is the recipient of two playwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the 2007 Smith Prize, as well as a 2002 new play commission from the Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is the founder and Producing Artistic Director of InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, where he has directed over 50 productions, including the world premieres of Thomas Gibbons’ Permanent Collection, Bee-Luther-Hatchee, Black Russian, A House With No Walls and 6221. He served as President of the National New Play Network from 2002-2006, and currently Chairs the Philadelphia New Play Initiative.

1. What inspired you to write JC3?
There were two points of inspiration for JC3:  First, I have become very interested (and at times exasperated) by how often Jesus Christ is appropriated by pundits, politicians and media personalities (let alone Christian leaders) to affirm their personal values and world views.  So I was inclined to explore three valid and popular, yet somewhat contradictory interpretations of Christ’s teachings.  Second, my good friend, colleague and fellow playwright, Tom Gibbons, told me about a psychiatric case history – THE THREE CHRISTS OF YPSILANTI – that he thought I would find drama worthy.  The book, which I didn’t actually read until well after starting JC3, chronicled one psychiatrist’s journey with three patients who each believed he was Jesus Christ at a mental institution in Ypsilanti, Michigan.   

2. Can you tell us a little about the Philadephia New Play Initiative? 
PNPI is an entirely volunteer campaign to improve the climate for new plays and playwrights in the Philadelphia region.  Our aim is to cultivate a more informed and cohesive new play community with the hope that over time more new plays by local writers will be developed and produced by the area’s growing legion of professional theatres. Among our continuing activities are Speed Dating events for playwrights and theatre leaders.   

3. You wrote the book, lyrics and music for a new musical entitled A Passing Wind: The (Mostly) True Story of Joseph Pujol, about the rise and fall of the world’s greatest “fartiste”. What is your favorite joke from the show?
This is a brief section from a song called VIVE L’ARTE! sung by three of the great artists of the Belle Epoque, who are gleeful in the wake of Joseph Pujol’s demise.




4. Was your process of writing a musical different from how you write a play?
Not at first, since I only intended to write the book and lyrics.  But when I found myself writing the music as well, the task became altogether different.  There is nothing equivalent to a song in a play.  Characters in a play don’t stop to riff on an idea with repeated, rhyming phrases and tightly metered delivery.  So some of the “rules” about character development and dramatic arc are, how shall I say, more flexible in a musical.   
5. If you were going to "run away with the band", who would it be and why?
I am reasonably confident that no one has ever answered as I will on this.  I would run away with a gypsy band called Taraf de Haidouks, whose music (I believe) was featured in PTNJ’s production of my play TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR… a few years ago.  They are a group of mostly older musicians from Southeastern Europe who play a wild and frenzied style of folk music.  I imagine their individual stories are fascinating and their live concerts are infectiously exuberant.

♦ Playwrights Theatre will present these readings free of charge, with an optional donation of $10

♦ A $25 dollar donation will get you a FORUM pass that covers all of the readings.

♦ A $250 donation will get you a rehearsal pass that allows access to all reading rehearsals.

♦ Reservations can be made online at or call (973) 514-1787 X10

Click here to reserve your seat to see JC3.

You can also find additional information on our website about the entire FORUM reading series

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