by Julie Jensen
NNPN Rolling World Premiere
inspired by ROBECK in ENDING LIFE: Ethics and the Way We Die
by Margaret Pabst Battin, ©2005 Oxford University Press
October 12 - November 13, 2016
by Julie Jensen
NNPN Rolling World Premiere
inspired by ROBECK in ENDING LIFE: Ethics and the Way We Die
by Margaret Pabst Battin, ©2005 Oxford University Press
October 12 - November 13, 2016
The genius of four extraordinary Utah women combine in this alluring new play about one of the most controversial topics in America. WINTER by nationally acclaimed Utah playwright Julie Jensen, starring Anne Cullimore Decker and directed by Tracy Callahan, was inspired by distinguished author and U of U professor Margaret Pabst Battin’s story, Robeck.
A beautiful, empowering story about a woman whose once-brilliant mind is now diminishing. Her family all have different ideas about what is right for her, meanwhile she's ready to take matters into her own hands. Funny, touching and very topical.
WINTER is produced at Salt Lake Acting Company as part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere. Other partnering theaters are Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (Chicago, IL) and Central Works Theater Company (Berkeley, CA). For more information please visit www.nnpn.org.
JULIE JENSEN (Playwright) has been writing plays for over 30 years. She has won a dozen awards, among them The Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago for best new work, the LA Weekly Award for best new play, and The David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award. She has been commissioned by a dozen theatres including Kennedy Center (twice) and Actors Theatre of Louisville (twice) and Salt Lake Acting Company (twice). She has received grants from NEA, TCG, Pew Charitable Trusts, among others. Her work has been produced in NYC, London, and theatres nationwide, from Arizona to Alaska, from Michigan to Massachusetts, California to Connecticut. Her work is published by Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing, and Smith and Krause.
She has taught playwriting at five universities, directed a graduate playwriting program, and has written a book on the craft. She is currently the Resident Playwright at Salt Lake Acting Company, board member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, and the Regional Representative of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Her play MOCKINGBIRD, recently nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, will be produced by six professional theatres this season. And WINTER, part of the National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere, will open at Salt Lake Acting Company and later at theatres in Chicago and Berkeley, CA. SLAC has produced eight world premieres of her work; this is the ninth. Plan-B Theatre and Pygmalion in Salt Lake City have also produced her work.
She is gratified to have spent her life in the theatre, never to have lost interest in its potential, and counts herself lucky to have benefitted from the efforts the extraordinary people who work in it.
TRACY CALLAHAN (Director) is excited to be back at SLAC directing the world première of Playwright in Residence Julie Jensen’s script, WINTER. Past directing projects at SLAC include VENUS IN FUR, MANNING UP, COURSE 86b IN THE CATALOGUE, SIX YEARS and HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE. Tracy is a freelance director and actor in the Salt Lake area where she has had the opportunity to work with Wasatch Theatre, Process Theatre, DarkHorse Theatre, Pygmalion Theatre, Hale Center Theatre and Utah Reparatory Theatre. She has been Head of The Acting and Directing Program at Weber State for the past 21 years where she has directed over 36 productions. This is the second time Tracy and Julie have collaborated on a production. Their first collaboration was Julie Jensen’s play MOCKINGBIRD which was commissioned by the Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts in Washington DC and also performed at Weber State and Pygmalion Theatres. Tracy is a founding member of the Process Theatre Company.
DENNIS HASSAN (Set Design) is happy to be returning to SLAC after designing STREETLIGHT WOODPECKER. Dennis is the Co-Artistic Director of the Lyric Repertory Company and Professor of Scenic Design at Utah State University. He has designed over 150 productions from Hawaii to Maine. Favorites include: AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY, LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, SWEENEY TODD, PHANTOM, AIDA, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, SECRET GARDEN, OLIVER! AND AMADEUS.
NANCY HILLS (Costume Design) has been designing for SLAC since 1999. Some favorite designs include A YEAR WITH FROG & TOAD, RABBIT HOLE, I AM MY OWN WIFE, GO, DOG. GO!, CIRCLE, MIRROR, TRANSFORMATION and BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE. Recent designs for Pioneer Theatre Company include ELF-THE MUSICAL, OF MICE AND MEN, LES MISERABLES, WHITE CHRISTMAS and LAUGHING STOCK. Locally Kevin has also worked with Meat & Potato Theatre and spent 21 seasons with the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
JAMES M. CRAIG (Lighting Design) has designed the lighting for more than 50 shows at Salt Lake Acting Company since 1997, most recently for SATURDAY'S VOYEUR 2016, STUPID F*CKING BIRD, SATURDAY’S VOYEUR 2015, MR. PERFECT, RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN, I’LL EAT YOU LAST: A CHAT WITH SUE MENGERS, SATURDAY’S VOYEUR 2014, GRANT & TWAIN, GOOD PEOPLE, VENUS IN FUR, SATURDAY’S VOYEUR 2013, THE EXIT INTERVIEW and MANNING UP. He has also designed lights for Plan-B Theatre, Utah Contemporary Theatre, Utah Musical Theatre, The Egyptian Theatre Company, Peery’s Egyptian Theatre, Odyssey Dance Theatre, The Grand Theatre, Weber State University, The Emily Company, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Stage Company, The Generic Theatre, Little Theatre of the Rockies, U of U Youth Theatre, U of U Lyric Opera Ensemble and Theatre Inc. Currently Jim is the Technical Director for the Park City Institute. He holds a BS in Theatre from Weber State University, and is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.
CYNTHIA L. KEHR REES (Sound Design) is thrilled to be returning to Salt Lake Acting Company to design sound for WINTER. Previous design credits for Salt Lake Acting Company include Julie Jensen's WAIT!, DUST EATERS, and BILLION DOLLAR BABY. Ms. Rees' most recent collaborations with Salt Lake Acting Company include their productions of COURSE 86B IN THE CATALOGUE, THE PERSIAN QUARTER, CHARM, ANGELS IN AMERICA, PART 1: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES, and THE OVERWHELMING. Other theatres where you may have heard Ms. Rees' work locally include Utah Musical Theatre, Park City Egyptian Theatre Company, and The Grand Theatre. Her regional design credits include designs for Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The National Theatre in Washington D.C., and Seaside Music Theatre. Cynthia received a BFA in Theatrical Design and Technology from Otterbein College, and an MFA in Sound Design from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Ms. Rees is a member of USA local 829 designers union.
JUSTIN IVIE (AEA Stage Manager) is a proud member of Actors’ Equity. He is thrilled be a part of SLAC’s 46th season! Justin stage-managed last season’s production of STREETLIGHT WOODPECKER, and SLAC audiences may recognize him from his acting work as Dev in STUPID FUCKING BIRD, Jones in TOO MUCH MEMORY, and a member of eight different casts of SATURDAY’S VOYEUR (including a turn as Heavenly Father this past summer.) His many other acting credits include appearances with Pioneer Theatre Company, Utah Musical Theatre, Egyptian Theatre Company, Old Lyric Repertory Theatre and many other others - both locally and in Chicago. Justin recently directed SLAC’s readings of GRANT & TWAIN and BANG-BANG (PAUSE) BANG. As a director, he has staged DRIVING MISS DAISY and many seasons of THE SENIOR THEATRE PROJECT and SENIOR STAGES for Walk-Ons, Inc. He has also directed Arthur Miller’s THE PRICE for The OtherSide Players and JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL for OurSpace Theatre Company. A Weber State alumnus, Justin earned his MFA in Acting at Northern Illinois University. He has taught theatre and communications at LDS Business College, NIU, Triton College, and Weber State. Justin also designs scenery, props and theatrical masks, writes an occasional play, and sometimes even plays his banjo (when he's pretty sure no one is listening).
Margaret Pabst Battin (Distinguished U of U professor, Author of Ending Life: Ethics and the Way We Die), nicknamed Peggy, is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Medical Ethics, at the University of Utah. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, and holds an M.F.A. in fiction-writing and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Irvine. The author of prize-winning short stories and recipient of the University of Utah’s Distinguished Research Award, she has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited some twenty books, among them a study of philosophical issues in suicide; a scholarly edition of John Donne’s Biathanatos; a collection on age-rationing of medical care; Puzzles About Art, a volume of case-puzzles in aesthetics; a text on professional ethics; Ethics in the Sanctuary, a study of ethical issues in organized religion; and a collection of her essays on end-of-life issues, The Least Worst Death. She has also been engaged in research on active euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Netherlands. She has also published Ethical Issues in Suicide, trade-titled The Death Debate, as well as several co-edited or co-authored collections, including Drug Use in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide; Physician-Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate; Praying for a Cure, a jointly authored volume on the ethics of religious refusal of medical treatment; and Medicine and Social Justice. In 1997 she received the University of Utah’s Distinguished Research award, and in 2000, she received the Rosenblatt Prize, the University of Utah’s most prestigious award. She was named Distinguished Honors Professor in 2002-03. A second collection of her essays (and fiction) on end-of-life issues, entitled Ending Life, was published in spring 2005 by Oxford University Press. She is the lead author of two multiauthored projects, Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, Comprehensive View (Oxford, 2008) and The Patient as Victim and Vector: Ethics and Infectious Disease (Oxford, 2009). She is currently at work on an historical sourcebook on ethical issues in suicide, The Ethics of Suicide: Historical Sources (Oxford University Press, to appear by October 2015), a book on world population growth and reproductive rights, provisionally titled Sex and Consequences: And Puzzles about Disability, a jointly authored volume involving two other members of the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities, and several projects on spinal cord injury. She has been named one of the "Mothers of Bioethics."
Julie Jensen (Playwright) has been writing plays for over 30 years. She has won a dozen awards, among them The Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago for best new work, the LA Weekly Award for best new play, and The David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award. She has been commissioned by a dozen theatres including Kennedy Center (twice) and Actors Theatre of Louisville (twice) and Salt Lake Acting Company (twice). She has received grants from NEA, TCG, Pew Charitable Trusts, among others. Her work has been produced in NYC, London, and theatres nationwide, from Arizona to Alaska, from Michigan to Massachusetts, California to Connecticut. Her work is published by Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing, and Smith and Krause. She has taught playwriting at five universities, directed a graduate playwriting program, and has written a book on the craft. She is currently the Resident Playwright at Salt Lake Acting Company, board member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, and the Regional Representative of the Dramatists Guild of America. Her play MOCKINGBIRD, recently nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, will be produced by six professional theatres this season. And WINTER, part of the National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere, will open at Salt Lake Acting Company and later at theatres in Chicago and Berkeley, CA. SLAC has produced eight world premieres of her work; this is the ninth. Plan-B Theatre and Pygmalion in Salt Lake City have also produced her work. She is gratified to have spent her life in the theatre, never to have lost interest in its potential, and counts herself lucky to have benefitted from the efforts the extraordinary people who work in it.
Liana Teteberg (League of Woman Voters Salt Lake Member and Hospice Representative) enjoyed nearly forty years working in various health care settings, ranging from bedside nursing, caring for patients as a nurse practitioner and physician assistant, to executive management in large health care enterprises and finally as a consultant to health care organizations. Throughout her career, hospice care has been her most meaningful and rewarding experience, and has served as the inspiration to establish Yarrow Hospice – giving her and other health care professionals the opportunity to do what they love.
Rebecca Chavez-Houck (Utah State Legislature, Chief sponsor of the END OF LIFE OPTIONS ACT) , a Utah native, holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Master of Public Administration (MPA), both from the University of Utah.Rebecca has represented the constituents of Utah House District 24 since 2008. She serves as co-chair of the House Ethics Standing Committee. Other committee assignments include the House Health & Human Services and Government Operations Standing Committees; HHS and Revenue and Taxation Interim Committees, and Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee. Rebecca’s 25 years of professional experience in non-profit administration and public affairs includes positions with Centro de la Familia de Utah, Utah Public Employees’ Association, Girl Scouts of Utah, Hal Gardiner Public Relations and the Utah Museum of Natural History. She began her career as a reporter/photographer for the Uinta County Herald in Evanston, Wyoming, where she covered the Uinta County Court System, Evanston City Police, and Uinta County Social Services. Rebecca has also cultivated another career as an activist and volunteer for myriad local nonprofit groups including: Intermountain Healthcare, Envision Utah, YWCA, KRCL Community Radio, Planned Parenthood Action Council, Utah State Democratic Party, ACLU, Plan-B Theatre Company, Utah AIDS Foundation, HEAL Utah, and the United Way of Salt Lake.
Terry Gildea (Moderator and KUER News Director) is originally from San Antonio where he spent four years as a reporter and host at Texas Public Radio. While at KSTX, he created, produced and hosted the station's first local talk show, The Source; he covered San Antonio's military community for the station and for NPR's Impact of War Project. Terry's features on wounded warriors, families on the home front and veterans navigating life after war have aired on Morning Edition, Weekend Edition and All Things Considered. His half-hour radio documentary exploring the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center was honored by the Houston Press and the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters. Prior to his position in San Antonio, Terry covered Congress for two years with Capitol News Connection and Public Radio International. He holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Washington and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. He moderated several SLAC panel discussions, most recently in 2016, the panel discussion in conjunction with STREETLIGHT WOODPECKER, displaying a remarkable ability to engage both audience and panelists together, and we are thrilled to have him back for this event.
This panel has received funding from Utah Humanities. Utah Humanities empowers Utahns to improve their communities through active engagement in the humanities.
E (Erika Ahlin): Tell me how your relationship with SLAC began.
J (Julie Jensen): I was at a conference and I ran into Ed Gryska. He was from Salt Lake Acting Company and he said to me, “You haven’t sent us any work.” So I sent him STRAY DOGS, which is a play set in Utah that had won a big prize at Arena Stage, and had been produced there, and my mother hated it. She said, “Don’t you ever bring me to another play like that.” So I didn’t. Al Nevins was the Literary Manager at that point, and Nancy Borgenicht and Ed were running the theatre. They read STRAY DOGS and said, “Oh yeah this person writes.” After that we were kind of in touch, particularly Nancy and me. Then SLAC produced WHITE MONEY, which I tried to rewrite this summer. It’s a play about politics; it’s very exaggerated. Then I realized in this climate you cannot make a satire about American politics, because the reality is far worse than anything you can think of.
WHITE MONEY was a weird, weird play and it won this big ass award. It was with Salt Lake Acting Company so they did the World Premiere and it’s been on a few times since then but it’s really hard to do. So anyway, that was the beginning of it.
E: How many plays have you written?
J: I don’t really know. It’s something over 35. I always said I would write as many as Shakespeare, not to compare myself, of course.
C (Cynthia Fleming): Tell me how you and Tracy met and how did you know that you two could team up?
J: She called up four or five years ago. I knew who she was but I didn’t really know her and hadn’t worked with her. I knew her work and I had certainly seen things here that she directed, but had never seen anything at Weber. She said that their department was going to do nothing but new plays next year. (And by the way they are going to do it again next year, following this year, nothing but new plays.) She said, “You got anything you would be interested in working with me on?” And I said, “Sure.” I told her I was working on a play about Christmas called CHRISTMAS WITH MISFITS, and also that I had received a commission from the Kennedy Center to adapt this novel called MOCKINGBIRD, which is about an autistic girl. And she said, “My son has autism. I would really be interested in that.” So I said, “Ok, read MOCKINGBIRD. See what you think.” She called me in March and said it would be in the following year that she would want to start working on it. So by January I had a draft. And the deal was she was going to work on it 3 times a week for 3 hours a day for 3 ½ MONTHS! The Kennedy Center came out and saw the production and I said, “I really want to work with her.”
C: So did she really help in the developing of it?
C: It was a great production.
J: It was. It was a wonderful production. I just loved it. It was so fun. I went up there once a week and watched them do whatever they were doing that day. And Tracy would feel a little nervous about saying, “I don’t think this scene works” or “What’s this doing?” but now we both take each other’s places. I mean I feel absolutely fine saying “She doesn’t giggle through that.” “You start the beat here not here.” Even though that’s a director’s thing and I wouldn’t dream of saying shit like that to actors directly without going through a director, but we both do it. She says things like “Could you do something with that part right there?” And I do. So we trust one another.
C: So after MOCKINGBIRD did you say let’s do it again?
J: She did the production of MOCKINGBIRD in Washington and then she did the production at Pygmalion. And I said, “Ok this is what I am going to do in the summer. I’m going to write this play.” I was writing it for Anne Decker because she brought me the material. Anne said, “There is this person I know who wrote a book about this woman’s right to die.” I said, “I’ll read it.” And then we went to lunch with Peggy. I kept saying that this could work. I met with Peggy and Anne every couple of weeks or so. We would have little meetings about being old, what we were afraid of, how we would die if we chose to, what we would tell people. You know, just ideas of what we thought about that subject.
E: The story is so relatable.
J: I want it to be. I really love the subject. My mother died of Alzheimer’s. I promised I would think about it every day. Not Alzheimer’s, particularly, but getting the fuck out. I haven’t done that exactly. It’s been 20 years. But that is a tragedy when people outlive the love other people have for them. They become a burden and they lose their dignity. My mother had gone from this dignified woman to this crazy, weird, strange acting woman. So it’s important. I think we have to do something about this. There is a line in the play: “Nursing homes are full of mindless people who have all said, ‘I will not live like that. I will not be one of them,’ and yet they are.” We have to do it ourselves or we lose the chance. Because nobody else is going to say, “Well would you like me to kill you now?” No that is not the way it’s going to be done and nobody is going to do it. We have to do it ourselves. And we have to go before the last possible minute, because if we go right up to the edge, we will fall in there and we will lose our brains and be unable to do it.
E: What are you most excited and/or scared about with this production?
J: I have lived with it for a really long time. Plays usually take a couple years, but this one, because I had the actor and stuff, it was fast. Cynthia came in and said yes early. So it’s faster than usual, but you live with it in your head. It has never been on its feet, so it was very exciting to see the run through last night.
I’m not exactly afraid. That’s one of the things about having a really good director. She is incredible with actors. They understand completely what she is saying. She is there, focused, trying to help it, take it to the next level. She can do crap with it I can’t even imagine. At last night’s rehearsal she said, “Ok now see, starting here the style shifts a little bit so that we are going to go into a weirder world.” And then I look at the play; I didn’t write it like that. I didn’t do that. She’s seeing something I didn’t see. And I’d say she’s right.