5 Questions with James Christy

The 8th reading in our FORUM “Soundings” series is DISSENT by James Christy. This reading will be begin at 7:00pm and will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dreyfuss Theatre, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ. Click here for directions. Click here for a printable map of the campus (the Dreyfuss Theatre is located in Building 9).

In the near future, the economy of the United States is going through a radical inflation. Burritos cost $35, and the gap between rich and poor has become unbridgeable. Justice Clark, a liberal  on the Supreme Court Justice is publically crashing and burning from alcohol abuse, while a serious case of corporate abuse is in front of him, a case that will come down to a close vote. Justin, a freelance journalist is investigating Clark’s self-destruction, when his wife, Lauren, a liberal blogger, going through a six-month bout with agoraphobia, decides to strike up an online conversation with him.  And then their friend Maddie reveals a secret about the conservative justice who is opposed to Clark, and this group of liberals decide to take matters into their own hands.

James Christy’s full length plays include: LOVE AND COMMUNICATION, Playpenn Playwrights conference, July 2010, produced by Passage Theatre in October 2010; winner, 2011 Barrymore award; EGYPTIAN SONG,  selected for 2011 National New Play Network, workshop at Premiere Stages, June 2011; NEVER TELL, produced by Broken Watch Theatre Company, August 2006, published by Playscripts Inc., April 2007; A GREAT WAR, Phoenix New Works Conference, July 2010, finalist Julie Harris Award 2012. His play DISSENT, won the 2013 20/20 Commission from Interact Theatre.  AT LIBERTY HALL was commissioned by Premiere Stages and will be produced in 2014.

1. In this play, Lauren, a liberal blogger, going through a six-month bout with agoraphobia, decides to strike up an online conversation with her husband, Justin, a freelance journalist. Considering they are both writers, did you feel this was an important element to telling the story? That they would express themselves through writing rather than a face to face conversation?  Yes, I think a lot of this play is about the disconnectedness of personal communication. Lauren has become increasingly reliant on interfacing through her computer. I think these days that’s pretty universal, and it’s hard for me to see that changing in the future. 

James Christy

2. You were part of the 2010 PlayPenn’s annual conference. What were some of the best lessons you learned by participating in this conference? It was the first experience I had where I was put on a par with serious professional playwrights. The first weekend the entire staff gathers to do table readings of all the scripts. Directors, designers, and playwrights read the parts, it was very loose and fun. And it was a great springboard for two weeks of intensive work. The entire experience was a big boost in confidence for me. I generally take a lot of time to write plays, but in that atmosphere I was able to bring in a lot of work in a short period of time. It was a lot of fun.

3. Your play NEVER TELL premiered at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival and had an extended, sold-out run. It had an LA premiere in May 2005 at Elephant Stageworks which also had an extended run. What is it about this play that you think resonates with so many audience members? This one doubles back a bit to the first question. The play is about young people increasingly interfacing with one another on their computers. With NEVER TELL, it was via the art world and Information Technology. But I think it hit some pretty universal themes as well. It was, as most first plays probably are, a very personal one.

4. Premiere Stages commissioned your play AT LIBERTY HALL as part of their Liberty Live program, a unique partnership between Premiere Stages and Liberty Hall Museums that celebrates New Jersey history. Where did you get the idea for this play? This has been a huge amount of fun. They asked that the play reference the history of Elizabeth New Jersey. Not knowing much about the town (besides its IKEA), I wikipedia’d it. I learned that Alexander Hamilton lived there for six months when he first came to America. I fell in love with the story of his life, particularly his (extremely difficult) upbringing. I think he’s the original self-made American immigrant.

5. Back in 2011, as part of our 5 Question interview, we asked you what new gadget you had recently tried. You told us “Playwrights can’t afford new gadgets. We buy other people’s 2nd hand gadgets on Craigslist.”  So……we’re just wondering what “new” 2nd hand gadget you’ve recently acquired on Craigslist?  Ha, good one! Is a piano a gadget? We just bought one of those on Craigslist (for my daughter who’s taking lessons).  I actually just bought a first-hand gadget, my first proper smart phone (previously just had a work blackberry). I’m still not a gadget guy but it’s nice to have something where you can take decent pictures. I understand it has a voice recorder so maybe I can start writing dialogue talking out loud in my car. One step at a time…

Playwrights Theatre will present these readings free of charge, with an optional donation of $10

♦ A $25 dollar donation will get you a FORUM pass that covers all of the readings.
♦ A $250 donation will get you a rehearsal pass that allows access to all reading rehearsals.
♦ Reservations can be made online at or call (973) 514-1787 X10

Click here to reserve your seat to see DISSENT.

You can also find additional information on our website about the entire FORUM reading series.