Hayley, welcome back to Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company! After previously directing Handle with Care, Compulsion or the House Behind, Rose, The Last Word…, The Gospel According to Jerry, and Bad Jews, you’ve been away from directing at MJTC for a few years. What have you been up to?
It's been a busy few years both professionally and personally. I had a baby, I had the opportunity to write a play that was produced at Red Eye, and I directed some productions at other theaters, both locally and nationally. Most recently, I directed Nina Simone: Four Women in Philadelphia which was written by my dear friend and longtime collaborator Christina Ham. I’ve also been writing the new Chanukah play that Barbara commissioned!
What do you like about Significant Other that drew you back to MJTC to direct?
I had been looking for a project that would bring me back. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company has been one of my artistic homes for many years. I loved working on Bad Jews and was excited when Barbara presented me with the opportunity to return to work on Significant Other. I love Josh Harmon's smart wit and engaging characters. I was interested in directing another one of his plays. I've also been able to be in touch with him about both Bad Jews and Significant Other, and value hearing his insights on his writing which I find enormously helpful as I head into rehearsals. I'm looking forward to directing the local premiere of this play and sharing it with MJTC audiences.
How would you compare this play to Bad Jews?
Josh has an incredible ability to write characters that are familiar and funny. He approaches comedy from a Chekhovean understanding that humor stems from the ordinary and painful moments in life that make us human -- the idiosyncrasies of behavior which is surprising but also familiar. Josh's expert understanding of craft enables the audiences to go on the ride of the play with ease. In that way, this play is quite similar to Bad Jews. It differs from Bad Jews in its structure. Bad Jews focuses on one location and takes place in real-time; Significant Other plays with time, and lives in a heightened theatrical space. The play moves back and forth in time, and follows friends over the course of three weddings. It is a comedy with a very relatable character at the center of the story. His plight is familiar to many -- he is looking for his significant other, which can be a very painful and dynamic journey. It's also a play about friendship and how friendship evolves over time which can also be painful and joyful.