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FIVE MINUTES WITH... Next Up Director Jess McLeod

by Anna D. Shapiro

Anna D. Shapiro: why is this an important story to tell? Jess Mcleod: Because we live in a country that struggles with the race of its president. as: what themes are you exploring in this production? jm: How our experiences form our perceptions and projections of each other. The impact of those perceptions and projections on a woman whose job was to be looked at, perceived, projected onto. Our struggle now to fill in history’s plentiful, power-driven gaps. as: what do you hope people will take away from your show? jm: More awareness of the subjectivity of our eyes. as: what do you think is your greatest challenge in approaching this piece? jm: It’s a beast of a play with a lot of layers, dense language, 200 years of action, abstracted time and space—the design team and I are striving to set the whole thing up strongly so that we can just stand back and let the play go, go, go. as: how is this production connected to your work over the last three years? jm: My parents are from South Korea and the Philippines and my great-grandfather was a Scotsman. I don’t look like a McLeod, but I am one (and I’ve got the kidneys to prove it!). My other shows at NU have been my way of putting onstage my own history and consequent feelings about family (Mourning Becomes Electra). I’ve been interested in making theatre about the struggle to connect our (okay, MY) inner and outer lives (In trousers), without the subject of race as a part of the direct conversation. Venus adds it into the mix.