Cover of The Dramatist Jan/Feb 2022: The Motivation Issue
New Jersey: Out of the Confines of Zoom
Male silhouette with hands holding headphones
DG Creative

The theatre scene in New Jersey is bursting out of the confines of the Zoom rectangles and standing back up on the boards for live audiences, with seven New Jersey-based playwrights getting productions at five different theatres. In October, Hudson Theatre Works, based in Weehawken, presented Joanne Hoersch’s Bunnies, a play based on Ms. Hoersch’s experience as a Playboy Bunny in New York in the 1970s. 

In November, NJ Repertory Company, based in Long Branch, presented What Doesn’t Kill You, a solo play written and performed by James Hindman, recounting his life during and after a recent heart attack. Mr. Hindman and co-author, New York-based Jeffrey Lodin, will return to NJ Rep in June with their musical The Pin-Up Girls, based on letters written home by GIs in WWII. In April, NJ Rep will also present The Forest, by Lia Romeo.

Also in November, in a unique partnership with Princeton University, McCarter Theatre Center presented a new short musical, Late Bloomer by Jaime Lozano and Georgie Castilla. Commissioned by the Lewis Center in Princeton, the play was paired with another short musical, Early Decision, by NY member Adam Gwon. Early Decision was commissioned by McCarter as part of their Migration Project. Both plays were based on the experiences of first-generation Princeton students from immigrant families and performed by Princeton University students.

In February, Vivid Stage (formerly Dreamcatcher Rep) in Summit will present Twirl by Joe Sutton, a play based on the famous phone call Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, made to Anita Hill years after her original testimony. In April, Vivid will also present Life’s Work by Laura Ekstrand.

In March, Two River Theater in Red Bank will present Tony MenesesThe Hombres. Two River co-commissioned and developed the play with the NJPAC Stage Exchange, a program of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and New Jersey Theatre Alliance, and through a reading at Two River’s 2018 Crossing Borders (Cruzando Fronteras) festival of plays and music by Latinx artists.

Seven New Jersey writers who were recipients of the 2018 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Literary Artist Fellowships in Playwriting were featured in the New Jersey Theater Alliance Podcast Series “Seven Questions for Seven Playwrights,” which can be accessed at the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s YouTube Channel. The writers: Deborah Brevoort, Joseph Gallo, Benjamin V. Marshall, Lia Romeo, Lesley Scammell, Ruth Zamoyta, and me. 

John Pietrowski

currently teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He holds a BS in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, an MPA in Nonprofit Management from Seton Hall, a Masters Certificate in Creative Placemaking from the Bloustein School at Rutgers, and is working on his MFA in Playwriting from Goddard College. Mr. Pietrowski was also the Program Coordinator of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Theatre Program for Teachers and Playwrights from 1988-94.