Julia Jarcho

Doris Duke Impact Award, 2014

New York, NY

New York City-based playwright/director Julia Jarcho creates plays with her company Minor Theater. Her textually complex works, which exult in American popular culture forms and genres, include Grimly Handsome (2013 OBIE Award for Best New American Play), a crime drama that ends from the perspective of three red pandas; Nomads (2014), a modernist love story inspired by the work of Jane Bowles; and Dreamless Land (2011), a screwball thriller about growing up. Her plays have been supported by the MAP Fund and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, a program of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Jarcho has been a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation in San Francisco, a board member of Young Playwrights Inc., a resident writer at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and a member of the award-winning playwrights’ collective 13P. She is an Assistant Professor of English and Dramatic Literature at New York University. Upcoming projects include Minor Theater's The Terrifying, which is going to be really scary.

  • Photo Credit: Alex Fabozzi Courtesy: AEA
    Grimly Handsome (2013)
  • Photo Credit: Alex Fabozzi Courtesy: AEA
    Grimly Handsome (2013)
  • Photo Credit: Rob Strong Courtesy: AEA
    Dreamless Land (2011)
  • Julia Jarcho- American Treasure (2009): http://vimeo.com/89928804
    American Treasure (2009)

Artistically, what do you do & why do you do it?

I write and direct plays because I love the way language and materiality can resist each other, opening each other up in unforeseen ways. I think my plays are a kind of “literary” theatre, with a lot of playfulness and challenge and discovery going on in the writing itself; I’ve always been inspired by writers like Beckett and Nabokov and Stein. I tend toward minimalism and simplicity in my stagings, although the moments I’m most proud of are almost always discoveries the work makes “on its feet,” when the performers find something new that takes the writing by surprise. Surprise and strangeness are very important to me: moments of disorientation, when something we don’t know suddenly pokes its head out in the midst of the everyday. That’s where I find joy, and also hope. So while I try to tell new stories, I’m even more interested in discovering the wiggly pockets of mystery inside the stories we already know—or think we know.