After completing my dramaturgy dossier I can safely say I am in love with Jen Silverman (so thank you, thank you Ilana for suggesting Collective Rage to me). Reading her interviews I realized how much I related to her as a human being. From a young age, Jen Silverman was considered a citizen of the world. She was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, moved to Japan at the age of 15 months, and by the time she was 13 years old she had lived in France, Finland, Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, and Canada. I had a similar (albeit much less exciting) childhood. I was born in Chicago, moved to Colorado, went to middle school in France, and came back to Colorado for high school. When we lived in France we would travel around essentially every weekend. During those 3 years of my life I visited Kenya, Botswana, South Africa Italy, India, the Czech Republic, Ireland, England, Germany, Austria, Spain, Greece, and more. It was amazing. I consider travel to be one of the most important things in my life. I would not be who I am today without it. It has taught me to be curious about everything and to look at each thing that comes my way as an adventure.
When Silverman talked about coming back to high school and trying to understand the rules that had been established, I completely understood. I always have felt and known that I am American, but there’s another part of me that always feels “a little bit outside of it and a little bit new to it,” as Silverman said.
Because of her nomadic life, Silverman, like me, likes trying something different with every play. I feel similarly about life. I want to try everything because I learn more about who I am with each new experience I have. I throughly enjoyed reading about the subject matter of each of her plays–each one was drastically different and filled with rich specificity. Reading about each one felt like opening a Limoge box or cracking open a snow globe–they all held distinct, intricate worlds where if you don’t look closely enough, you might miss something.
I also admire the shit out of Silverman’s outlook to her own work. I think it is so easy to try to please others or create art that we think will succeed, but it takes a brave soul to create something she whole-heartedly believes in and then, stand by it regardless of critical reception. Silverman says, “If I start writing the plays I think somebody wants to produce, as opposed to the work that is an unflinching expression of my lens on the world…then I’ve already failed.” She starts all her work with questions and the questions that stick with her eventually lead her to the characters she writes about. I want to refuel my curious and inquisitive nature, and then start making art based on the questions that pop into my head and won’t leave me alone. I hope I never simply accept my circumstances or the box society has put me in.
A couple other reasons I love Silverman…
In her spare time, she has an Instagram called Sad Panda where she draws Sad Panda with his/her/their reasons to be sad for the day—See Below. These cartoons, much like her plays, subvert expectations of what a Panda is and does. Some are extremely dark, but they are inherently light because it’s about a Panda. I think this balance of dark and light is brilliant. All art that excites me is gritty and horrible, but hilarious and beautiful because of that. Silverman captures all of this brilliantly in her plays, and more immediately in her Panda drawings. See below:
AND the other reason is because of the title of the play I just did my dossier on:
COLLECTIVE RAGE: A PLAY IN FIVE BOOPS; IN ESSENCE, A QUEER AND OCCASIONALLY HAZARDOUS EXPLORATION; DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL AND YOU READ ABOUT SHACKLETON AND HOW HE EXPLORED THE ARCTIC?; IMAGINE THE ARCTIC AS A PUSSY AND IT’S SORT OF LIKE THAT.
I mean come on. How ballsy (pun definitely intended) and brilliant is that?!
Silverman’s work takes a question she has had in life and puts it on stage—she may not get answers, but at least she’s uncovering more questions. I wonder if I will do that too? (My first question).