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Meet the Moxie Commission: Jessica Wu

Last week, we announced The Moxie Commission, a new program commissioning three women+ playwrights to each create three brand new plays over the next nine months, written exclusively for virtual performance. The team at Moxie could not be more excited about this reimagined season four, and we'll be giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the process here on the Moxie blog throughout the Commission.

This week, we're introducing you to our three stellar playwrights. First up is Jessica Wu, multi-hyphenate extraordinaire! Check out her bio and read on for a Q&A with Jess about D&D, Arena Stage, Asian-American representation, and more.

Want to support the Moxie Commission and new work written by, staffed by, and spotlighting the stories of women+? You can donate here!

Jessica Wu is an award-winning NYC-based playwright, director, songwriter, dramaturg, and actor-in-a-past-life. Her performance credits include the Broadway Revivals of Miss Saigon and A Chorus Line and she has crossed the US in a half-dozen National Tours, performed at Shakespeare in the Park, Radio City Music Hall, NYC Opera, Lincoln Center, with numerous Regional theatres, and in late-night sketches with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. Jessica has written a number of short-films and theatrical works, including two full-length musicals. You, Me, I, We has won several development awards (including The National Asian Artists Project’s Discover: New Musicals Series) and was a Finalist for Live & In Color’s Development Retreat, as well as a semi-finalist for The National Alliance of Musical Theatre’s O’Neill Conference.

Upcoming is Poupelle of Chimney Town, a new-musical based upon the best-selling Japanese picture book of the same name. Currently in development, it’s slated to debut next season Off-Broadway. Jessica is an adjunct Theatre Professor at American University and has also spent the last several years in Non-Profit Arts Leadership as an Associate Artistic Director. She is the founder of Inspirate Creative Consulting and Development, a practice dedicated to providing clients with purposeful creative coaching and open-hearted, collaborative development sessions for works in-process.

What drives you to work in theatre?

Asian-American representation in theatre, the arts, and in American entertainment is incredibly important to me and is the issue that most strongly drives my writing and my work. I feel that what little work that exists featuring Asians and Asian-Americans (especially in commercial theatre) are often stories of 'other-ing' and almost always lean into historical trauma. The goal of my work is to normalize and celebrate the modern Asian-American experience and contribute positively to the Asian-American musical theatre canon.

Who is a woman+ artist who inspires you?

Molly Smith's work at Arena Stage in Washington DC has been a huge inspiration to me. Her leadership and pioneering in non-profit arts is a shining example of how to pave the way with strength and humility.

What excites you about virtual theatre?

Virtual theatre excites me on so many levels. It's a brand new medium that definitely presents challenges as we collectively trudge up the learning curve, but it has so much possibility for innovative storytelling. And don't even get me started on the new access that has been afforded to otherwise overlooked and underserved audiences. These are doors that we cannot and should not close.

What have you been reading, watching, or playing this year that you would recommend?

I am a huge fan of D&D and RPGs. Using new online platforms to interact virtually with friends and to communally build worlds and stories has been a true life-saver during this pandemic.

What makes you feel hopeful right now?

I'm feeling perhaps a naive optimism that our western world is currently experiencing a metamorphosis. Self-centered conservatism is slowly giving way to progressive ideals and I have hope these are its death throes. I am making work for that world.

Check back on Wednesday and Friday to meet our other two commissioned playwrights!

Want to support our work? You can donate here!

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