Meet the Playwright: Jamie Maletz
The weather is getting warmer, which means Moxie's spring season is just around the corner! We're excited to introduce the first of our three playwrights this spring: Jamie Maletz, the composer, lyricist, and book-writer of Wishful Thinking! Before the developmental reading in May, get to know Jamie in our Q&A!
(Want to support? You can donate on our Fractured Atlas, or on Venmo @moxiearts)
Jamie Elizabeth Maletz is a composer/lyricist, bookwriter, and producer of new works of musical theater. In New York, her works have been featured at Lincoln Center, Feinstein's/54 Below, NYU, Dixon Place, Under St Marks Theater, and Broadway Night at Prohibition. She received her MFA from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU Tisch. Maletz has written 12 full-length original musicals, and she runs a choir for new works of musical theater (New Work City) with writing partner Eric Fegan. As a composer/lyricist, Jamie has studied with Mindi Dickstein, William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin, Michael John LaChiusa, Steven Lutvak and Sybille Pearson. Jamie is the Administrative Assistant for Maestra Music Organization, and she writes the Women Who Wow Us series for the Maestra blog. She has also worked as an intern with Feinstein’s/54 Below, Tom Viertel/The Commercial Theater Institute, and Ken Davenport. www.jamiemaletzmusicals.com | @jamiemaletzmusicals
Read on for our Q&A with Jamie!
Q: Tell us about the writing process for Wishful Thinking.
A: I had a very weird summer in 2017. I was kind of in between lives. I was about to move from Arizona to New York, leaving behind all my friends and family, a stable teaching job, and a bad marriage. And I was heading to New York to finally pursue musical theater writing as a career, about to start the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU Tisch. So that summer in between my old life and my new one, I had the idea and wrote the first draft of this show (while essentially living on my best friend's couch with all my stuff in boxes). I kind of wrote nonstop and wrote the whole thing in about two months. Since then, I have had table reads with friends and reworked/edited it, and I'm excited to see what the future holds for the writing process. I probably need to visit Packwood, Washington.
Q: What inspires you to work as an artist, and what drives you to work in the theatre?
A: I'm inspired by adventure and people coming together to achieve something that seems insurmountable. Maybe that sounds vague or cliche. But I just love the thought of our connection to others being the thing that ends up being enough to get us out of an impossible shitstorm. For some reason. If you want a more literal answer, I'm very inspired by monsters, mythology, and folklore. I eat that up for breakfast. As for what inspires me to work in theater...see above, I guess. It's a medium where your connection to others is the whole point. Whether you're writing theater or producing it or performing it or teching it or watching it, you're all people coming together to do the theater thing because you love it. And I think that's beautiful. And I can't see myself being a truly passionate worker in any other field. My bank account really wants me to, but I just can't.
Q: Who is a woman+ artist you admire and why?
A: I'm going to cheat, because I have two big ones and you did ask so you get both. You should hear about both. They are both so wonderful. 1. Mindi Dickstein. She was my thesis advisor at NYU and remains a mentor and friend and I honestly have no idea how she does all the work she does AND looks out for all her students AND develops beautiful shows at the same time but she is such an incredible teacher and advocate and writer and person. She should get a medal or something. 2. Georgia Stitt. Who, also, I have no idea how she does all the work she does. Because in addition to being an incredible writer and music director, she started a whole nonprofit organization to support other women+ in the musical theater industry. Which, by the way, any women+ musical theater musicians/writers reading this should check out (https://maestramusic.org/). I just have so much admiration and respect for talented people who COULD just focus on themselves but choose to lift others up as well.
Q: What is your favorite thing about living in NYC?
A: This is so VERY predictable and boring for an answer. But my favorite thing about living in New York City is how close I am to Broadway. And how (RELATIVELY) easy it is to see a Broadway show. I say relatively. Because it is still not EASY.
Q: Why did you want to work with Moxie Arts NY?
A: I wanted to work with Moxie because can we talk for a second about how AMAZING women are? The thought of a company run by women+ artists, producing my work with core values centered on collaboration of women+ artists and community...that's so exciting to me. That's the future. It's a dream and hope of mine to be a part of showing NYC what we can do when you put good shows in the hands of smart women+ teams. Also, any theater company that values audacity, doesn't care about being "normal", and goes with the name "moxie" is gonna be right up my alley.
Q: Why is Wishful Thinking an important play for right now?
I feel that representation is so crucial. And there is a lot represented in Wishful Thinking that I think is important. For example, as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I have gotten very tired of the fact that if I ever see depression onstage or in TV/film, the character tends to be a sad sack and they suck and they ruin everything. And when I see anxiety, I only tend to see it one way. So the mental health representation in Wishful Thinking gives you a protagonist with depression who is also strong, with a sense of humor, and fun to watch. And you get to see it in an interesting way, because her depression and anxiety are personified by a wish, so they follow her around and you get to hear what they say to her. There are also two LGBTQ characters in the show who have a cute little love story. And spoiler alert: they don't get killed. (What? She lets her gays just...be happy??) Also, the protagonist is a divorcee in her 20s (because that happens). Finally, the themes in the show are good conversation starters for these days & times we're facing. Things like: How to stand up to problems that can't ever fully be fixed. What happens when you try to strip a woman of her power. And how people can make a difference even when they're struggling. What could be more important for folks to think about right now than that?
How great is Jamie? We're so excited to be presenting her work this May. Support her show and all of Moxie's spring season by donating today!