Promising Playwright, May 2017
"I was treated like a creative equal.”
We were so excited to sit down with 2017 New Play Festival Featured playwright Jasmina Tang shortly before the premiere of her play at the last night of the New Play Festival. Jasmina is currently a freshman at H-B Woodlawn High School, and her play A Yellow Line wrestled with racial and cultural diversity in the world of acting. She introduced two characters, one Chinese American and the other white American, who share a love for acting and the arts, but due to their cultural differences have very different experiences as they pursue budding careers in theater.
For Jasmina, the idea for this story came from some of her own life experiences as an Asian American student interested in theater.
“I’ve always been into acting,” says Jasmina. “Pretty early on, I realized that there were disadvantages that I experienced that my other friends didn’t experience. I thought it would be interesting to explore that.”
Jasmina expressed that the hardest part of the playwriting process was allowing the idea to unfold. She never talked about race, disadvantage and privilege in the performing arts with her peers before. “The most challenging part, I think, was putting that idea out there in the first place because I was kind of afraid that it would be taken the wrong way.”
But Jasmina found that her peers were incredibly supportive. In fact, when she first heard the news that her play had been selected to be featured in the 2017 New Play Festival, she was in theater class and shared the news. Fellow theater students cheered her on!
From that moment on, Jasmina enjoyed her experience as a New Play Festival featured playwright. For her, the process was very rewarding and pleasantly surprised her in many ways. “[My dramaturge] Audrey was wonderful!” exclaimed Jasmina. “She made sure that I was never forcing myself to change things. She always made sure that whatever suggestions she made were just suggestions. At the end of the day, it was my work, and I appreciated that.”
Jasmina also enjoyed the production process too. She attended at least two rehearsals of her play before the premiere and was surprised at how much she got to be involved in the artistic process.
“My director was Farah, and she was so cooperative with me. We definitely worked together. I felt like an equal. Even though everyone in the room was at least ten years older than me, they didn’t treat me like a kid… I was treated like a creative equal.”
Jasmina’s experience with YPT and the New Play Festival boosted her with the confidence to keep writing. She always considered herself a writer, ever since she was five years old, creating handmade books with her mom. She is also a voracious reader and currently finds herself enthralled in Jay Kristoff’s Japanese steampunk fantasy novel Kinslayer.
Overall, Jasmina really appreciated her time with YPT. She says to those who are interested in playwriting: “Read plays or go see plays and get a feel for the format and how plays differ from books or other literature.”
And to future young playwrights in YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program, Jasmina says to go with the flow and don’t be nervous. “Embrace it with open arms and be happy. Think of it as another step on your way to making it to the top!”
We wish Jasmina and all of the 2017 New Play Festival Featured and Finalist playwrights the best of luck in their writing and future endeavors!
You can read Jasmina’s play in the 2017 New Play Festival book available now!