It's time to announce the final playwright in The Moxie Commission! Joining Jessica and Marissa is Uma Paranjpe, who will be writing three plays over the next nine months that are specifically created for virtual performance. Moxie fans may remember Uma from our shortened season three, when we planned to produce her play 14th Street. We were in the audition room with Uma in March when we first heard the news of the Broadway shutdown, and while we've had to postpone that production until in-person performance is safe again, we are so thrilled to be able to continue to support her work through the Commission!
Check out her bio and pictures of her past work below, and read on for a Q&A with Uma about the intersection of theatre and film, Marvel, the privilege of creating art in challenging times, 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!
Uma Paranjpe is an Indian-American playwright and actor originally from the East Bay, San Francisco. Uma's work has been seen onstage at the Furnace Festival at the Center at West Park, and will be seen next fall in collaboration with Moxie Arts. She has been a Sewanee Writing Conference Playwriting contributor as well as a part of the New Perspectives Theatre Company's Women's Work Lab. She also works with Peacoat Productions' Short Films division as a screenwriter and actor. Uma's ultimate goal is to tell stories that make people feel less lonely. She loves to write about mothers and children, young people in love, and immigrant families. She holds the belief that no story is universal, but every good story inspires empathy. Uma currently lives in Brooklyn with her cat. BFA University of Miami. umaparanjpe.com
What drives you to work in theatre?
Theatre is this idea that showing an audience a particular experience, live, will change them profoundly. If I can be a part of that in any way, I'm going to try to.
I think about how movie theaters really prospered during the Great Depression. People needed to take their minds off their surroundings, and they went to the movies to do so: young, old, rich, poor (because movies were actually affordable back then, I'll save that rant for another day). Theatre does that, too, and it's needed more than ever in 2020.
Who is a woman+ artist who inspires you?
Sujata Day is someone I've followed on Twitter since I joined in 2009. She was a new Indian actor on TV at the time and I wanted to know everything about her, to be like her and to learn from her. Since then, I've watched as she joined one of my favorite shows of all time -- Insecure -- and went on to writing for film. Her newest film, Definition, Please, is about mental health struggles in Indian families and is something that has never been written about before. She's the definition (lol) of groundbreaking and I hope to follow in her footsteps, creating work that has never been seen before.
What excites you about virtual theatre?
I'm most interested in the technology virtual theatre allows us. Virtual theatre is the connection point between film and theatre, two mediums that I absolutely love. Before the pandemic, we were starting to get to a place in mainstream theatre where technology was a part of the conversation -- social media interaction, projection and video design, etc. I think it can only enhance theatrical work and help us place our plays firmly in the 21st century.
What have you been reading, watching, or playing this year that you would recommend?
I just finished Normal People on Hulu, while simultaneously reading the book it's based on. Amazing. Heartbreaking. And Sally Rooney is only 29! What?! I also just finished watching all the Marvel movies in order, and it's something I'd highly recommend, especially if you're like me and all of them blend together. The story these seemingly pointless action movies tell is beautiful, and so nuanced. It's like watching a limited TV series, except all the episodes are 2 hours long.
What makes you feel hopeful right now?
Not a lot. But the idea that I can still make art and get paid for my art places me in a position of privilege I have to acknowledge. I'm grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to what we can create together!
Stay tuned for more announcement's about the Moxie Commission, including our directors cohort and performance dates, coming soon!
Want to support our work? You can donate here!