Books inspire me: As a playwright, I am a bit of a research junkie. I am fascinated by science, history and politics. I find great pleasure in reading about historical characters that acted bravely in the face of adversity. Reading about science is a joy (I’ve written three plays involving scientific themes from global water shortage and astrophysics to neuroscience and lab monkeys). I also find great inspiration in the heroism of people all over the world. As a core member of both the Dream Act Union and Theatre Without Borders, I am in touch with undocumented youth and artists in conflict zones throughout the world. The courage and generosity to fight for freedom always astounds me. As a drama therapist, I work with people who have lived through hell and who bravely allow the therapeutic use of theatre to give them new windows to ways of seeing. Humor is also inspiring to me. Laughter is the medicine and the life-saver for tough days and dark nights.
Favorite cocktail: A Gin Daisy.
Production that changed your life: Cloud Nine. Lucille Lortel, circa 1981.
Is there anything you still dream of doing? Travel. There are so many places on this earth I haven’t yet seen, worked in or lived. India. Africa. Ireland. The last 20 years have been so caught up in work and single parenthood, that part of me just wants to get a sleeping bag and a suitcase and just…well, go.
I feel most like myself when I am in a rehearsal or a classroom, doing or teaching theatre.
Best escape? Television. Hate to admit it. But there are several shows (The West Wing, Lie To Me, House, Downton Abby, The Good Wife…) that I just climb into and leave the characters of my life for the characters there. Not the best form of relaxation perhaps, but curling up on the couch with a yummy snack and a juicy episode, launches me (temporarily) out of my own hardships.
The one thing most people don’t know about me is that underneath the actress, the intellectual, and the clown, I am a terribly shy kid.
Jessica Litwak, playwright, drama therapist, performer, and teacher, has been on the theatre faculty of S.F. State University, L.A. City College, and currently teaches at Lesley University. She is a co-founder of The Dream Act Union, core member of Theatre Without Borders, and artistic director of New Generation Theatre Ensemble.