We had the good fortune of connecting with Jen Kays and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jen, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Live theatre is the best community sport there is. There is nothing better than being in the room when this kind of art magic happens. The most important thing to me as a theatre maker is creating the best work we can by telling the story the playwright wants to tell. The first part of the process is really caring about the writing and having a visceral reaction to a play. Finding what moves us is imperative when championing a piece from the page to the stage. Being part of the development of a new work makes my heart burst open and regardless of budget, we are known to produce highly theatrical pieces either in design or language or both.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am most proud and excited about our Evolving Playwrights Group that was spearheaded by our Associate Artistic Director, Lisa Sanaye Dring and Playwright and Board Member, Jim Leonard. Pairing emerging and mid-career playwrights with mentors/playwrights in conversation, five great plays were written and the program will culminate in a reading series that is free to the public on Zoom at the end of May and through June 2021. I have always been most excited about championing new work either within our writers groups or in readings and workshops. This has been the inaugural season of this new program, during a pandemic, when our theatre was shut down and this community of artists still managed to meet and inspire each other to create work that I am super excited about. It looks like it will be a little longer before it is safe to get back into the theatre again. We can’t wait for that day to arrive.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
During a pandemic, my answers can’t include some of my favorite spots including live theatre and music venues and, museums. Safe places to explore right now include: The Descanso Gardens in La Canada, Zuma Beach in Malibu, Shopping at Skylight Books in Los Feliz, The newly opened Amoeba Records in Hollywood, Matrushka Construction in Echo Park, Clover in Silver Lake and Dotter in Highland Park. Good Eats include: Blair’s restaurant and Edendale Bar and Grill in Silver Lake, All’acqua in Atwater Village and Cindy’s and Little Beast in Eagle Rock that all have outdoor seating. If you want to pick it up, Masa in Echo Park has the best deep dish pizza in Los Angeles.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many artists who inspire me. Timothy Wright, who was the Artistic Director of Circle X Theatre Co. for years before me, I still consider a mentor. His ability to tap into the heart of a piece, collaborate with artists to bring out their very best and find the most imaginative solution to any challenge made every production better. He cultivated a thriving community and did extraordinary things not just for our company but for many companies in the intimate theatre family of Los Angeles.
Photo credit to: Jeff Galfer and Gary Leonard