Heal the Divide: Boxes, by Jen Huszcza

Blog, Heal The Divide, Plays

Every week we will be sharing new plays by our Heal the Divide playwrights.  This week’s play is Boxes, by Los Angeles playwright Jen Huszcza.

It took me several drafts to get to the play below. The image of boxes fighting for space came to me after Charlottesville. I had also been reading Jeremiah Moss’s Vanishing New York about the gentrification of New York City in the twenty-first century.

At first, I had the boxes talking, but then I realized what they were saying was redundant. The gestures were what I needed. This is the first time I’ve ever put charts in a play.

Since this is the last play of the cycle, I wish to thank Tiffany and Heal the Divide for letting me react to the news cycle in my own way. I want to thank my fellow playwrights whose work delighted me and challenged me.


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Heal the Divide: Dolphins, by Jen Huszcza

Blog, Heal The Divide, Plays

Every week we will be sharing new plays by our Heal the Divide playwrights.  This week’s play is Dolphins, by Los Angeles playwright Jen Huszcza.

I sail and race sailboats out of Marina del Rey. Sometimes, when we’re a mile out, I look back at the coast and think ten million people live there, but I don’t see them. However, all those humans cannot be denied.

One weekend after Valentine’s Day, I was out casually sailing with friends, and picked up a dozen mylar balloons floating on the water. Also, the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean has reached a staggering number. It’s not only plastic bags, but fish eat micro plastics. Guess who eats the fish?

For more info on the effects of ocean pollution, check out Heal the Bay , Reef Check, and 5 Gyres Institute.

I knew I wanted to do a play about ocean life for Heal the Divide, and I wanted to write about Dolphins. I often see dolphins when I sail. They make me happy. In creating my pod of dolphins, I wrote a ten minute play which requires thirteen actors. Such a large cast is a no-no in short play writing. I realize this kills any shot at a production, but a community of dolphins is inspiring not only in its joy, but also in its numbers.

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Heal the Divide: Fireworks, by Jen Huszcza

Blog, Heal The Divide, Plays

Every week we will be sharing new plays by our Heal the Divide playwrights.  This week’s play is Fireworks, by Los Angeles playwright Jen Huszcza.

Writing Fireworks

A few weeks ago, I became obsessed with Presidential Impeachment (as one does in this day and age). I wanted to know how it worked, what it was, the history of it. I soon learned that Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist Paper on Impeachment, and I wondered if I could put Hamilton onstage. He’s currently the star of the biggest mega hit musical of this century, and he’s a founding father. It’s a little intimidating, so naturally I had to do it.

Then, a week later, I saw Samantha Bee interview Senator Elizabeth Warren on youtube. Samantha Bee jokingly talked about sitting on a ledge over the death of democracy and calling Senator Warren. I suddenly saw that ledge. Who would I put on the ledge and who would they call? What if the person they called was not available or not taking calls?

I don’t know where Barack Obama came from (actually, I do, he was born in Hawaii). I’ve noticed a lot of Obama nostalgia on Facebook among my liberal friends, and I think Monica would call him. Please do not take this as a literal or biographical Obama. While he did say that America was already great at the Democratic convention, I do not have his intelligence. His lines are written by a humble playwright and should not be taken as the former president’s actual words.

Besides, I would totally do pints with Alexander Hamilton.

Jen Huszcza
July 2017

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Heal the Divide: Spotlight on Jen Huszcza

Blog, Heal The Divide, Playwrights

My love affair with Jen Huszca’s work is no secret.  She’s been an ONSTAGE playwright with Little Black Dress INK six years in a row, and every time I do anything even remotely theatrical, I ask her to participate.  Sure, we already had one fabulous LA playwright on the project – but with the city itself being so incredibly large, eclectic, and an entertainment hub for our nation (and the world), couldn’t we have a second fabulous LA playwright on board?

And as soon as I wondered that aloud to myself, I knew the answer was “Go for it!” because Jen and Diana are writing from such different parts of LA, different backgrounds, and different experiences… and I know each one will provide a powerful view from their own perspectives that will draw us in and leave us with something worth chewing over.

So lets talk a little more about Jen… she’s a super talented, wildly imaginative writer/artist who has gone on several walking pilgrimages (and written about them), who rides the bus (which means she spends a LOT of time commuting), who spends too much time worrying about affordable housing in one of the most expensive cities in the US, and who brings a unique theatrical perspective to everything she creates.  Jen works in a style of writing that is visceral, pensive, and unapologetically direct.

Yeah, I think it’s appropriate that she’s been offered a seat at this table.

And thank goodness, too.  Because whatever issues Jen decides to tackle, her work will most definitely suck you in (maybe punch you in the proverbial gut) and leave you thinking very deeply about the subject she’s cutting open on the theatrical table before you.

Why did you decide to participate in Heal the Divide?

Tiffany asked me. I wish I had a more intellectual answer, but my main reason for participating is friendship. I also like the positivity of the project and its focus on empathy.

What areas of concern do you find yourself curious about or interested in for this project?

The news cycle changes so quickly these days that I can not predict what I will be interested in a month from now. It is fascinating how reactionary Americans on both sides of the political divide can be. Sometimes words just pop out at me. For example, elitism. Also, I have always been interested in both the wildness and fragility of the natural world.

Artists making a difference. What do you think we can (or should) do? Are there pitfalls we need to avoid?

I think advocacy and how much an artist makes a difference is up to the individual artist.

What questions as a playwright are you drawn to explore in your work?

What does it mean to be a human or other animal living on the earth? If I say anymore, I will blow my hand, and I like to keep my cards close to my chest.

More about Jen:

Jen Huszcza is a playwright currently based in Los Angeles.  Five of Jen’s plays (Rinse, POP, Flowers, This, and Big Belly) were performed in Little Black Dress INK’s first five Women Onstage festivals. Big Belly and This were also read at Theatre N16’s Herstory Festivals in Balham, UK. Her short play, It Has to End in Tears, was produced by Greenlight Productions in Santa Monica in March 2015. Four of her plays have been presented as staged readings in the Monday Night Living Room Series at The Blank Theatre in Hollywood.  BFA in Dramatic Writing and MFA in Musical Theatre Writing both from NYU.

You can follow Jen on Twitter @playwrightjen