Sarah Brown is an actor, published playwright, songwriter, Fulbright Scholar & professor of performance at The University of Memphis. Appearing in New York & regional theatre, as well as film & television, since she was 7 years old, she has also authored two plays with music that have been published by Samuel French, Inc. & along with other works, have been performed or work-shopped, at the NY Theatre Workshop, The Public Theatre, American Place Theatre, American Jewish Theatre & the Miranda Theatre Company. She’s been honored to perform her one-person shows in both the regional United States & at International venues, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, London & Israel. Her satirical play about artistic censorship during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I was produced in London at Theatre 503 by the Practicum Theatre Company. Sarah received her M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama. Sarah comes from a theatrical family. Her late mother, Patricia Brown, was a theatre director & actress who was the Founding Director of Theatre Communications Group & the Executive Artistic Director of the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas & a winner of the Burns Mantle Award for her production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Seasons Greetings" in the late 80’s at the Joyce Theatre in New York.
Sarah's latest show, "Shooting Stars in Jordan" directed by Karen Carpenter ("Love, Loss, & What I Wore"), will be part of the 2012 NYC International Fringe Festival from August 12-22.
"Shooting Stars in Jordan" is the tale of An American Jewish woman who gets lost on her tour to Jordan during an emotional collapse & seeks the advice of a mysterious shopkeeper who sets her on a wild, funny & cathartic journey through her own psychic wilderness. This one-woman tour-de-force had its World Premiere at The International Teatronetto Festival in Tel Aviv, one of the major Solo Show Festivals in the World, in 2011.
"Shooting Stars in Jordan" plays at the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher Street, between Greenwhich and Washington Street). For tickets, click on the date you want to see the show: Sunday, August 12, at 2:15pm, Thursday, August 16 at 9:15pm, Friday, August 17 at 7:15pm, Sunday, August 19 at 2:45pm, Wednesday, August 22 at 3:45pm.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? I was in an acting workshop in New York and was assigned a scene partner that no one else wanted. He wasn’t really an actor and I couldn’t imagine what scene we could possibly do together. So my solution was to write a scene with a character that he could play well….so I did! And it went over great! People commented that it was funny and moving and it occurred to me I should also be playwriting. I also found it very empowering over acting, something I could do without necessarily relying on other people, especially if I could write for myself. I went on to write short plays as a company member at the Pulse Ensemble Theatre, which were produced by Alexa Kelly and then subsequently published by Samuel French. From then on I decided, "I’m an actress, playwright." I still use the word "actress" by the way. I like it.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? It would be easier for me to answer "who I’d like to work with again?!" Paul Giammatti. He makes it easy. He also insists that I’m not a pain in the ass with my relentless ideas about how to get laughs. We played opposite each other in a commedia-style "The Love of Three Oranges" by Carlo Gozzi….and we had a lot of freedom to play in that production and come up with our own schtick. Everyday I was in Paul’s face with something else I wanted to try…and unlike some actors who might get pretty annoyed or think that I should leave well enough alone – Paul was always right there with me. He is absolutely hilarious and 'gets it' of course. One of the few co-actors whose made me feel like I’m perfectly sane!
3. What made you want to write "Shooting Stars in Jordan"? I was in Israel on a Fulbright Scholarship teaching Commedia del 'Arte and Solo Performance at the University of Haifa in 2010-2011. I received the Fulbright through the University of Memphis where I decided to teach in 2007. It was because of the decision to leave New York and move to Memphis, TN to teach theatre that I ended up in Israel for a year on that Fulbright. I had so much material to draw from in my own life – lots of tragedy and miracles. I pitched my show BEFORE I’D WRITTEN IT, to one of the producers of the International Teatroneto Festical in Tel Aviv, a very distinguished solo show festival, and he gave me a slot! I couldn’t believe it. So I had 6 weeks to write and produce a show. I did it and it was a wonderful success!
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing "Shooting Stars in Jordan"? I hope that they come away believing that going through hell can yield amazing psychic gifts and renewal!
5. What excites you most about having Karen Carpenter direct "Shooting Stars in Jordan"? Karen Carpenter has been my friend since Yale School of Drama where she was production manager (and at that time burgeoning genius of a director) and I was an MFA student of acting. This is really like a friendship…and creative connection come full circle. I’m thrilled! And I’m so proud of her great success directing Nora and Delia Ephron’s "Love, Loss, and What I Wore." This show I’ve written, "Shooting Stars in Jordan" is perfect for her to direct. I’m in GREAT hands with Karen!
6. What are you looking forward to most about having "Shooting Stars in Jordan" in the NYC Fringe Festival? Fame, awards, new fake opportunistic friends, Facebook people who don’t know me but want to friend me for their own superficial advancement, tons of money, agents, producers, having to wear sunglasses and weekends in the Hamptons!!!….or how about the chance to enjoy a creative performance venue in New York City, old friends coming to see me after so many years of separation…and all my relatives who are still talking to me coming from all over the east coast to see me perform…and my wonderful amazingly talented boyfriend (who also made a gorgeous puppet that appears in my show) coming to New York from Jerusalem for the first time – to see me perform my New York premiere of this piece. Life is so good right now.
7. What is your favorite part of the creative process in writing a show? The actual writing for me is rarely fun unless the creative muse is just sitting on my shoulder drunk and free as she rarely is. Otherwise….My favorite part of writing is after I’ve finished and I read it back to myself and think…"hey, that’s not bad! Now I can have some fun and get this thing on its feet!"
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright? I have learned that I need to let it flow and not overthink it as I often do. I’ve also learned from writing this show that I am a good collaborator! I thought I was a creative despot! But I’m not! I met a man named, David Kaye while in Israel (he was a fellow Fulbrighter) who is the Chairman of the theatre department at University of New Hampshire. A brilliant creative theatre director and developer, David’s creative guidance was infinitely valuable in realizing this one-woman show. I feel very lucky to have met him.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Add a little salt.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My dad. Having a nice dinner with my dad and telling him about all my adventures with this show and managing the family business and how wonderful his nieces have been to me through so many difficulties.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? In nature breathing deep and slowly!
12. Favorite skin care product? Anything that hydrates.
13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Cooking.