Season 35 Spotlight: Charly Evon Simpson

Season 35 Spotlight: Charly Evon Simpson

Charly Evon Simpson, playwright, Jump

A conversation with the playwright of

Jump

How did the co-production at Milagro/Confrontation Theatre come about?
I met José at the National Showcase of New Plays in Orlando last December. Jump had a reading there and he had heard it. We chatted about the play a bit before the end of the showcase weekend. A few weeks later, I learned that Milagro was interested in doing the show with Confrontation Theatre. I’m not sure of the details of that connection but I think it is great for two theater companies focusing on stories by and for people of color to join forces in Portland. I’m excited to be working with both organizations!

Tell us about Jump.
A few years ago I came across an article called “Jumpers” in The New Yorker. It was written by Tad Friend in 2003 and focused on how the Golden Gate Bridge was a place where many decided to end (or try to end) their lives. The article fascinated me and I kept it open on my browser tabs for months. I didn’t know why I kept it there but I did, knowing that I had to do something with it at some point. Meanwhile, I tried writing a new play. The play didn’t work, but it had two characters I loved—Fay and Hopkins. I kept them in the back of my head—maybe they’d find a new home in a new play. In the fall of 2016, I had a week up at SPACE on Ryder Farm, a wonderful nonprofit residency program in Brewster, NY, and I knew I wanted to write a new play. I looked at my browser and saw the “Jumpers” article. I then remembered Fay and Hopkins. And five days later, I had about 75% of the play. In that time, the play gained Judy and Dad, rounding out Fay’s family. It became a play about falling vapes and Chinese food, about Converse and kitten heels. It became a play about a bridge, about connection, about grief.

What excites you most about this production?
I’m excited to bring this play to Portland, OR — a place I’ve been to twice and have fallen in love with. I’m excited to meet and connect with Portland audiences and learn how this play may or may not feel differently for them — especially as Portland has so many bridges.

What else are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a play about the intersection of gynecology and slavery with Ensemble Studio Theatre/The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project; a play that imagines the U.S. after the effects of climate change with Forward Flux Productions; a play about sex, intimacy, and relationships with The Pack; and finally a play about the effects of gun violence with The Amoralists.

 

Jump by Charly Evon Simpson

A co-production with Confrontation Theatre
March 21 – April 13, 2019
Flex Pass subscriptions are now on sale. For more information please call 503.236.7253.

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