JJ: When I was young, my Dad would take me to Baskin Robbins where I would get a cup with a scoop of peanut butter and chocolate and a scoop of "daquiri ice." I'm not sure exactly what "daquiri ice" was, except an extremely bright blue sorbet. Nor am I certain why I thought it went well with peanut butter and chocolate. But that was always my favorite.
KLC: Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever traveled to and what was so cool about it?
JJ: By far it was my trip in 2000 to the Cricoteka, the archive of Polish theatre auteur Tadeusz Kantor, in Krakow. At that point, it was an archive of his nightmarescape props -- including a skeleton horse on wheels -- in a dim, brick medieval cellar. You could pay your couple bucks, go down there, and commune alone with the ghosts of Kantor's theatrical séances. The Cricoteka still exists, but is now brightly lit, modernized, and most of the important props are either on display at the new Kantor museum or are in storage for scholars.
KLC: Name one movie you can quote and then quote it.
JJ: Bill Murray's The Razor's Edge: "I'm doing fine for me."
KLC: Pick one: Eleanor Roosevelt, Angela Davis, or Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
JJ: I pick Naomi Wallace instead. Reading her plays showed me a how theatricality, politics, and feminism could all exist onstage without didacticism. Slaughter City is the bar I hold my own work up to. And now, thanks to your blog, I know she likes hedgehogs as well, which only endears me to her more.
KLC: The United States electoral process is _______________________.
JJ: built so men who own capital win it, so it shouldn't surprise anyone when that is how it works. I mean, come on, the guys who designed the process literally owned their children (I'm looking at you, Jefferson). Why would they create an ethical election system?
KLC: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done to get someone’s attention?
JJ: I met my wife, Meghan, because a mutual friend brought her to a party I was having. Meghann left rather early, before I had much of a chance to talk to her, and I tried to get her to stay by offering her pie and a chance to look at my Tadeusz Kantor books. She didn't stay, but I did make an impression. A good or a bad one, though?
KLC: If you had the opportunity to patent a brand new product, what might that be?
JJ: An international transporter, so one could travel the world quickly and environmentally. I love international travel, and have learned more about myself and life by visiting other countries than by any other means. But the process is always exhausting, and the fossil fuels used in long-haul flights are a problem.
KLC: Which of the following is least likely to ever exist: bigfoot, elves, or government regulation on Wall Street?
JJ: Of course I want to say government regulation of Wall Street, and, while I tend to be extremely pessimistic, at least men can't legally own their children in the U.S. anymore (see #5 above).
KLC: Can you share something about yourself that no one has ever asked you about in an interview before?
JJ: I had open heart surgery when I was four years old, and, in the hospital, was given the book Amos and Boris about a mouse who falls off his boat and is saved by a whale. The book includes a monologue by the mouse after he falls off the boat wondering what death is like. Later in the book, the whale is beached and, before he's saved by the mouse, he, too, wonders about death. Reading this as a tiny child before my own very serious operation, I think, has led to my obsession with death in my own writing.
Jacob Juntunen is the head of the MFA playwriting program at SIU (Southern Illinois University), as well as SIU's unique PhD playwriting program. His plays are meant for those “who want to leave the theatre changed and moved,” as one Chicago critic described. He recently wrote See Him? to participate in the Belarusian Dream Theater, a consortium of eighteen theaters in thirteen countries producing plays to raise awareness about human rights violations in Belarus. His latest play, In the Shadow of his Language lays bare the hidden dowry of academic success and was a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Center National Playwrights’ Conference; a semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship; and a finalist for the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Award. Shadow has enjoyed two staged readings in Chicago, another at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, and a workshop off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. His play Saddam’s Lions--published in Plays for Two (Vintage)—examines the disquieting memories of an African-American female Iraq War veteran and her struggles to come to terms with war-time trauma. Jacob based this play on interviews with a veteran.
More information at JacobJuntunen.com and short plays at RiposteToTheWorld.blogspot.com.