Jake Lipman is an artistic director, producer, writer, director, actress, festival producer, intellectual, entrepreneur … and that’s just the top of the list.
Her current play, RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS by Craig Wright with share The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios with a festival of her own creation, SPRING PLUS 1 SOLO SHOW FESTIVAL. AND she will do the same again in the fall with her next powerful piece.
Ms. Lipman’s company, Tongue in Cheek Theater, just like its founder, wears many artsistic hats, its works are designed to make you think, feel, and laugh. that last one is very important.
OPENING in MAY:
RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS by Craig Wright
The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios
244 West 54th Street. Eight performances, May 8-18 (Wed-Sat nights)
When accomplished advertising exec Waverly opens the door to her Minneapolis apartment on a warm September night, she’s aghast. How could she have forgotten her blind date, Andrew, would be picking her up? As she scrambles to get ready, a series of twists and unexpected guests waylay them on their night out. A thought-provoking comedy about a blind date with destiny.
in repertory with
SPRING PLUS 1 SOLO SHOW FESTIVAL
also at The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios
Two shows: May 12-13; (Sun & Mon nights)
Visit www.tictheater.com for more information and to buy tickets.
Jake Lipman received her Masters of Fine Arts from the Actors Studio Drama School at the New School and her Bachelor of Arts from Smith College. As an actor, she has toured nationally, appeared in New York and regional theater, TV, independent film, and voice-over work, in addition to producing, writing, and directing theater and film. In 2006, she formed Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (TIC).
It’s been a while since we spoke to Jake and things have only gotten better. We’re thrilled to have her as one of the prominent women of the arts 2019.
Tell us about yourself as an artist?
I’ve been acting since I was 7, and it’s funny, the first role I ever played was a producer in a play called The Great American Musical Disaster. I wore reflective aviator shades and a white Miami Vice-like blazer. Many years and an MFA later, I would finally learn what a producer does, mostly by doing. And that’s what the word “producer” means to me – I get involved in anything and everything a piece requires. I love collaborating with other people, on casting, in the rehearsal room, workshopping new plays, directing, and yes, still acting.
Lipman & Co. in the celebrated office comedy, Relentlessly Pleasant
Tell us about your company?
I graduated with an MFA in acting and thought: now what? The answer was to produce a play with a great role for me, and from there, I found my inner producing artistic director.
I founded Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (www.tictheater.com) in 2006 to ensure I was always working on thought-provoking comedies. I’ve now produced 40 productions, acted onstage in many, directed a dozen, and written a few. I love the many different creative challenges each aspect of a production requires of me. And I get to work with the incredibly talented people of New York. It’s a great place to make indie theater happen.
Serious matters that evoke a chuckle? Very classical and rare today. Care to elaborate?
What’s that old adage that comedy is tragedy + time? That’s certainly been true for me, from writing a solo show about scattering my mother’s ashes in Ireland (Up a River) to writing and directing Relentlessly Pleasant about the challenges women face in the workplace. But mostly, I think people want to see something that engages them and surprises them. If I can make them laugh and then think about why they laughed, I’ve engaged my audience and done my job.
What is your creative process as a writer?
To be clear, I didn’t write my latest piece, Recent Tragic Events — the very talented Craig Wright did! But I have written and produced several plays, including Relentlessly Pleasant (2018) and The Inn at Lake Devine (based on the novel by the same name).
My process is very structured – I create a master plan with deadlines for when I’ll have drafts and send them to readers for their input. This keeps me honest, and waking up early and drinking lots of coffee while I write. I love this period of getting up early and writing. I look forward to it, and frankly, I don’t even sleep particularly well, because I’m working out my next twist in my head and my brain won’t fully turn off to let me sleep.
Then, I workshop the piece and revise, and I love to hear it aloud. That really helps flush out what’s not working and helps me refine further.
But to answer the question a bit more succinctly: structure and lots of coffee.
Do you write with the intention of direction or acting – or both – in the play or is that an organic decision?
I think of myself as an actor first and foremost, so I develop works for me in a key role. With The Inn at Lake Devine, the lead character is this feisty young woman from Massachusetts, and when I first read the book, I thought, that’s me! I am her! So that was the impetus for my reaching out to the novelist to adapt her book. I wanted to fully play out that role. With Relentlessly Pleasant, I wrote one of the leads for myself but very late in the process, my director had to back out due to a change in jobs, and I had to take a deep breath and direct it instead of act in it. That was a big, hard pill to swallow. But fortunately, my cast was so incredible, and their portrayal of every character so surpassed what I had envisioned, that I was able to enjoy the play coming together as a whole new thing. That was deeply satisfying.
Who do you write for… who is your audience?
My desired audience is my dad, or people like him. He’s this jovial, funny, smart guy in his seventies who sees a lot of movies, is reasonably well-informed and well-read, but not stuffy. He’s not into things that need to be explained or that are deliberately esoteric. If he gets one of my shows, I am confident that I’ve put forth work that is accessible, entertaining, and engaging.
What’s it like being a woman in the arts in the 21st century – post #MeToo, during Trump?
Oy. I am of two minds. The first mind says, well, it’s scary and it sucks. But the second mind says, screw that, you never had to ask for permission to do the shows you do, you just did them. And you will continue to make your own work and opportunities. So I sometimes think the former, but mostly I try to live the latter.
What’s next for you?
A bunch of things! I am producing, directing, and acting in Recent Tragic Events, May 8-11 and 15-18, 2019 at The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios (tickets are on sale at www.tictheater.com). The show is set over the course of a night when a man shows up for a blind date and ends up entrenched in the life of the woman he picks up. I’m curating my 15th Plus 1 Solo Show Festival of new works, which runs for 2 nights, May 12-13, 2019 during the dark nights of Recent Tragic Events. I showcase 3 new solo shows and a musical guest, and it’s always a great night of theater.
And, I’m helping a dear friend develop her solo show, Untransmittable, which will be showcased as a staged reading on May 14.
And then, last but not least, I have adapted Relentlessly Pleasant into a TV pilot and am taking meetings to see about developing it further for a steaming service. It’s early days yet but I feel passionately about making a piece that centers around women at work and the comedy of power dynamics.