AMK: Your play "Wink" is about "the thin line between savagery and civilization." What inspired this exploration and what have you learned or discovered in the process?
JS: Our post-9/11 world is saturated in paranoia. The media sells us fear and distrust. Fear is in some ways eroticized - nobody wants to read a story about a nice person who did something great, but we'll put the 19-year old Boston Marathon bomber on the cover of Rolling Stone. Some people have told me that they see “Wink” as an "absurdist" play - I think we live in an absurd culture and an absurd moment. I become more and more intrigued by the experiment of treating strange, tilted, askew stories like pieces of absolute naturalism.
AMK: What do you hope to achieve with this work? What do you want audiences to take away from it?
JS: I want to put under a lens the ideas our culture has of civilization and savagery, and explore how the first contains so much of the second. I want to interrogate the relationship American culture has to violence, sexuality, and repression.
AMK: What is your favorite part of the playwriting process?
JS: I love sitting down to write the first draft of a play, in that space of being completely thrillingly alone in a new world. I also love being in a room with directors, actors, designers. I live for the moment when our various passions and aesthetic convictions combine in a way that's combustible and dynamic.
AMK: What is the most difficult/challenging part of the process?
JS: The business side, actually. Navigating what it is to be a working artist. Nobody ever really tells you how to do that, maybe because there are so many different ways. Eventually you just end up having to figure it out by trial and error.
AMK: What's next for your career?
JS: My play “The Moors” is being produced at Yale Repertory Theatre in the winter (director Jackson Gay) and my play “Still” is being produced in rep at Juilliard around the same time (director Oliver Butler.) I'm currently working on commissions for South Coast Rep, Ars Nova, and Partial Comfort.