JM: Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream, but if you’d like to convince me otherwise, I’m totally open to sampling other flavors and fully considering them.
KLC: Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever traveled to and what was so cool about it?
JM: This is hard! I am very easily impressed by places and I have no sense of cool.
When I first became disgusted by NYC (about 6 months after my initial arrival), I decided I was going to move to Prague and sit under the Charles Bridge all day writing meaningfully in my journal and drinking coffee, then beer, then coffee, then beer and so on. When I finally got to Prague, years later, the coolest thing was going to the Modern Art Museum; in part because of the old-school babushkas guarding every room and constantly shush-ing people (respect art quietly!), in part because of the poster for “Jackie Brownova” we passed on the way there, and in part because we got lost coming back and stumbled upon a poster for play written by a friend of mine. Oh, and because we had this ridiculous Dr. Suess-like tree in the apartment we had rented.
Oh – and on that same trip, while in Baden-Baden, Austria, we got lost in the woods (noticing a “got lost” theme much?) and stumbled upon this tiny restaurant that served white asparagus which is only really in season for something like ten minutes. This asparagus thick; like gangster’s Cuban cigar thick. They put hollandaise sauce on it. It was magic.
But the place that had the most impact on me was probably the Georgian Republic in the early 90’s in the midst of Perestroika, just after the first democratically elected government had collapsed while fighting three civil wars… in the winter (the worst winter since Stalin, as people liked to tell me.) That wasn’t “cool.” But I learned a lot about the world, and myself, on trip.
America is also cool. It fascinates me. There is so much of it! Oh and anything that includes “hot springs” in its name is also cool, especially when followed by hanging on a porch in Idaho with fabulous friends. That kind of cool never gets old. Sorry. I know that’s way more than one.
KLC: Name one movie you can quote and then quote it.
JM: Babe: “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
KLC: Pick one: Eleanor Roosevelt, Angela Davis, or Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
JM: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Totally. Nothing against Eleanor or Angela.
KLC: The United States electoral process is _______________________.
JM: The surest proof around that this is no longer a Democracy (if it ever was one). And the harder and harder we (the people) work to hold on to the illusion that we are a democracy that offers liberty and justice for all, the more elaborate the Rube Goldberg-like electoral machine has to become to support that illusion. I guess you could say I’m an optimist like that.
KLC: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done to get someone’s attention?
JM: Oh boy. I can’t believe I’m writing this. When I was a kid, I was swimming at the local pool one day and I don’t know if I thought I was drowning or what but I wanted to get the lifeguard’s attention and so I did that Wile E. Coyote thing of holding your fingers up and counting 1…2…3… and then I went down. Totally didn’t work but somehow I survived.
Oh, and then there was that time I saw Bill Irwin walking down the street in midtown and purposely plowed right into him so that I could touch him. He apologized for running into me and asked if I was okay. Yeah, I did that.
KLC: If you had the opportunity to patent a brand new product, what might that be?
JM: Okay, seriously, I think of genius new products all the time – so many million dollar ideas! But now that you’ve asked me I can’t think of anything. It’s like they are all gone. So, humph, thanks for that.
KLC: Which of the following is least likely to ever exist: bigfoot, elves, or government regulation on Wall Street?
JM: They all exist. We just run around behaving as if their existence would be ridiculous… and we all seem to accept that it’s okay to do that. It’s sad.
KLC: Wild card question! If you could name someone famous—living or dead—as your emergency contact, who would it be?
JM: Superman. I was going to pick a wizard – like Merlin or Dumbledore – but the problem with wizards is there’s always a price, you know? They seem to think they have to teach you some lesson, and then you end up at the butt end of some folk story about getting to spend your life with your beloved but you’re both trees that can’t even touch each other, or some shit. In an emergency, Superman just seems to have right combination of magical/alien power and super human power. Besides, he’s also a journalist, so he’s probably the only superhero you’d want in a grammar emergency - which is what most of my current emergencies are.
KLC: Can you share something about yourself that no one has ever asked you about in an interview before?
JM: Greatest fear: sewing machines. Not. Even. Kidding. They terrify me.
Jeni Mahoney is a playwright, teacher, artistic director and play development geek. Her play Fata Morgana was the recipient of an NEA Artworks Grant and recently premiered at Boise Contemporary Theater. Other plays, including Kandahar, The Feast of the Flying Cow… and Other Stories of War, Come Rain or Come Shine, Running in Circles Screaming, The Martyrdom of Washington Booth, Mercy Fallsand Light have been presented at the National Playwrights Conference/O'Neill, InterAct Theater, Greenwich Playhouse (London), Denver's Old Vic/And Toto Too, L.A. Theater Center, MidWest New Play Festival, Lark Theater, Rattlestick, NYU's hotINK Festival, Circus Theatricals and Key City Public Theater among others.
As Artistic Director of Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Jeni has supported the development of more than 150 new plays. As a development geek, her work has been featured in Howlround, The Dramatists Magazine, Stage Directions, The Loop and Idaho Arts Quarterly.
Jeni is also Head of Playwriting at Playwrights Horizons Theater School/NYU Tisch; co-Artistic Director of id Theater; and a member of the National Theatre Conference and the Dramatists Guild of America. Jeni blogs about her role as Mommy to an amazing, special needs girl at https://thelandofnoa.wordpress.com/