An Interview with Sharon Jepson
By Kera Jewett, Interim Director of Development
What attracts you to new work?
I love that playwriting is alive and continues to evolve. While there are certainly plays that stand the test of time and continue to speak to us as audience members, there is something important in connecting with today's challenges. I feel any given playwright is almost certainly drawing from personal experience, either literally or abstractly, so their work is a window into how they view our world today and how people react emotionally to our current world setting.
Do you have a favorite type of play or playwright?
Not specifically. I like plays that speak to me, but it is important to note that I also appreciate the plays that don't speak to me because I know they are speaking to someone else. That is just as valuable in my eyes, so I am glad those plays also have a voice.
What is your favorite part of seeing a new play at Hartford Stage?
The whole production! When you see a world premiere at Hartford Stage you know it has been fully realized. It is easier as the audience member to decide whether you like the content of the play because the production elements supporting the words—the costumes, the lighting, the first-rate acting—are always superb. I never walk away wishing Hartford Stage had committed more of itself to the play. Having no distractions helps me focus on what the play itself is saying and how it is relevant to me.
What should other people know about new work at Hartford Stage?
It is available to us! As an audience member, you are taking part about a communal dialogue in what is happening in our community today. Often, Hartford Stage will ask for feedback from audience members, so you are actively participating in the new play process. Even if I don't choose to outwardly express my opinion, I feel my voice is heard when I choose to be a part of a new play's audience, that I am actively supporting the culture we are going to leave behind for tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, what should Hartford Stage focus on in regard to new work in the future?
I am so excited about the Write On program in the Education Department, which links a commissioned Hartford Stage playwright to high school students interested in the field. I hope this program continues well into the future because it's impacting our future. Write On provides first steps to our next playwrights whose voices will be speaking to us tomorrow. I love that young people get the choice to be involved in new work, since so much of it has the opportunity to speak to their generation regarding the issues that matter to them but might not have a platform to be openly expressed. We are cultivating the next generation of voices contributing their own new thoughts and ideas.
Sharon and her husband, David Jepson, are donors and subscribers, and recently made a generous pledge to the final renovations of our 50 Church Street theatre.