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Dramaturgical Resources


The Grown-Up

By Jordan Harrison

Over the course of the season, our assistant directors and student dramaturgs will be compiling dramaturgical resources relating to each production as it develops. Below are some links to websites which relate to the history of the play, the biography of the playwright, and sites that contextualize and, we hope, shed light on the directorial approach to the dramatic material.

We hope you find these resources of interest.

Jordan Harrison

Jordan Harrison (b. 1977)

About the Playwright

Jordan Harrison is from Bainbridge Island, Washington. He attended Stanford and received his M.F.A. from Brown University in 2003.  He has had several plays produced at the Actor’s Theater of Louisville and Off-Broadway, as well as multiple other venues.  In addition to his plays, he has written a children's musical, The Flea and The Professor, as well as for the Netflix Series, Orange is the New Black.  As of 2019, 15 of his works have been produced.  He has won multiple awards and fellowships including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009.

His 2014 play Marjorie Prime was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was later adapted into a film by Michael Almereyda starring Tim Robbins, Jon Ham, Geena Davis, and Lois Smith. It premiered in 2017 and won the Sloan Feature Film Prize.

His works usually involve ‘a bizarre premise’ happening in strange worlds.  Harrison cites Tom Stoppard (or here) as an influence.  He has been inspired by everything from yard sale kickbacks to events and activities from his childhood.  Design plays a large role in his plays.  He says that he uses it to say what his characters can’t, and that his plays can usually be divided into two types, those with furniture and those without.

He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his husband.

Read more: here and here.

About the Play

This play was written for the 2014 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville and was originally directed by Ken Rus Schmoll.  The story focuses on the life of a boy, Kai Sheerwater. He discovers a magical door knob which has the power to transport him uncontrollably through time and space.  Interwoven with this narrative are excerpts and scenes by other characters who touch Kai’s life in some way.  Fantastical and non-linear, all of the scenes still resolve in the final magical moments of the play.  The work explores growing up and the power of telling stories. 

Many of the actors play more than one role, including unnamed narrators who add context and further emotion to the scenes, reinforcing the story-telling motif.  Kai himself is named after character in a fairytale, The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Anderson.  In the story, Kai is stolen away by the Snow Queen after his heart is turned to ice.  His childhood friend sets out to rescue him, enduring many trials and hardships before breaking the Snow Queen’s hold with the power of love. 

The Grown-Up is amorphously set in many times and places, from the high pressure world of Hollywood TV production to the world of tall sailing ships of the 1800s.  Although set in many locations, this is probably a Harrison play ‘without furniture’ as he notes in the script that “[he] suspects that there is very little on stage.” 

About this Production

This production will feature original, recorded sea shanties.  In some scenes, the assigned narration roles have been changed from what was originally set out in the play.

Directed by Kate Eminger.