Young Jean Lee
Young Jean Lee
Competition: US & Canada
Young Jean Lee has been called “a rising star” by the New York Times and “one of the best experimental playwrights in America” by Time Out New York. She has written and directed eight shows in New York with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company and toured her work to over twenty cities around the world. Her plays have been published by Theatre Communications Group (Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Other Plays, The Shipment, and Lear) and by Samuel French (Three Plays by Young Jean Lee). She is currently under commission from Plan B/Paramount Pictures, Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is the recipient of a 2005 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Individual Artist Grant, a 2007 Emerging Playwright OBIE Award, the 2007 Festival Prize of the Zuercher Theater Spektakel, a 2009 Creative Capital Grant, and a 2010 Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is a member of New Dramatists and 13P and has an M.F.A. from Mac Wellman’s playwriting program at Brooklyn College.
When starting a play, I ask myself, “What’s the last play in the world I would ever want to write?” Then I force myself to write it. I do this because I’ve found that the best way to make theater that unsettles and challenges my audience is to do things that make me uncomfortable. I work with stories that I find trite and embarrassing, I keep the development of the text as open and unstable as possible throughout the rehearsal and performance process, and I emphasize rather than hide problems in the text and production. I’m constantly trying to find value in unexpected places. My work is about struggling to achieve something in the face of failure and incompetence and not-knowing. The discomfort and awkwardness involved in watching this struggle reflects the truth of my experience.
Profile photograph by Blaine Davis.