Jenna Zark

Art Form(s)



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Little Canada

Artist Statement

I began writing plays as an acting exercise. What layers could I explore in the human psyche that I did not see on the page? As I continued writing, my thoughts on the work broadened and changed. Though I don’t write exclusively on Jewish culture, I have concentrated a portion of my work looking at how Jews have assimilated (and what happens when they don’t) in a post-Holocaust world. America offers assimilation and the ability to forget one’s heritage. What does this mean for us? What have we lost by trying to be like everyone else? Being a playwright allows me to ask these questions and search for clues. I believe the years I spent acting gave me excellent training in how to create lines that work onstage. In terms of subject matter. I look for what haunts me. A thought, a moment, an hour takes on shape, color, time of day, like a painting. Sounds, light, and smells filter in, becoming a scene with characters, movement, dialogue. In the end it is a matter of progression. How do people (characters) progress, and change? If they don’t change, why not? Why does life drive some people to movement and others to hold fast to what they know? Is there a whole – a cohesive central plan – that we are all part of? These are things I am trying to discern in the roundabout journeys of characters and invented lives.

Jenna Zark’s plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, and in regional theaters around the country. A Body of Water was published by Dramatists Play Service and produced regionally after its debut at Circle Repertory in New York. The play was also selected by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture on the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America as a play that “breaks new ground.”

Zark’s adaptations of two Eric Kimmel books. The Magic Dreidels and The Chanukah Guest) were commissioned and produced by the Minnesota Jewish Theatre, which also produced A Body of Water. Zark has also written a number of children’s plays for Steppingstone Theatre.

Other plays include If You Don’t Weaken (Freshwater Theatre), Alyeska, (Blank Slate Theatre), A Great Miracle Happened Here (Fresh Ink Series, Illusion Theatre), and I Wouldn’t Be Here and In Coya’s House (History Theatre).

Zark’s play The World to Come was originally commissioned and produced as a one-act by the Jewish Women’s Theater Project in Los Angeles. The play was then expanded to a full length and received a reading at Playwrights Horizons and workshop production at the Producer’s Club in New York.

Zark is currently working on several projects including a new musical. She is a two-time winner of the McKnight Advancement Artists Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship winner. She is also a core alumni member of The Playwrights Center and a member of The Dramatists Guild.

Work Samples

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