Jean Waller has acted with the 2nd Act Players and also had a script she wrote, A Little Something, selected for the 2017 2nd Act Players New Playwright Showcase.
Her script Cattywampus will be one fo six performed during the 2nd Act Players #MeToo Play festival May 19-20, 26-27. Learn a little about Jean is this Q&A, then click here to get your tickets to come see her play along with five others at the #MeToo Play Festival.
1. When and why did you start writing plays?
I am not much good at chit-chat and our increasingly polarized culture has dubbed conversations about pretty much anything of substance with even a whiff of controversy as impolite in a social context. So, since I can’t turn my brain off but do want to keep my head from exploding, I started writing as a way to imagine what those conversations might be and where they might lead.
2. What was your impetus for writing this play?
When the first women’s march happened in early 2017 and later when the #MeToo movement gained critical mass in the public eye, I found myself remembering many of my own experiences over the past 40 years with sexual harassment in both the workplace and in the rest of my life. It shocks me just how many incidents there were even though I consider myself lucky by the absence of violent rape or domestic abuse. I have had more than one friend not so fortunate.
It was depressing to think how little had changed in those 40 years in spite of some undeniable progress by women. We are 51% of the population yet we still have to march for equal pay, the basic human right to control our own bodies, and the right to be treated fairly under the law and in the eyes of society when we are victimized by those in power.
I think about how the same social, religious, and economic power structures and attitudes that breed and enable both institutionalized discrimination, abuse and rape culture, are also the ones that affect us all in much more personal, subtle, and lasting ways. Ways that lie at the root of the expectations and assumptions we all carry around about ourselves and those around us, especially those we love. Ways that get passed down through generations and which we are often not even conscious of until something forces the issue.
Only then are we are confronted with what a truly equal relationship will demand of us.
3. What do you expect the audience to feel after hearing your play at our festival?
That biology is not destiny and there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.
4. What’s the one technique that helps you get past writers’ block?
I don’t put arbitrary deadlines in place. If I’m stuck, I walk away and come back when the idea or the piece I have already started calls insistently enough to get me back at the keyboard.
5. What’s something most people don’t know about you that you’re now ready to share with the world?
Even though I am a native Chicagoan, I am firmly in the camp of the Oxford Comma.