Nicole Pandolfo — Women in NJ Theatre
Continuing the celebratration of Women's History Month and the impact of women's contributions to society, New Jersey Theatre Alliance would like to spotlight Nicole Pandolfo. Nicole is one of the five phenomenal NJ female playwrights to participate in NJ Stage Exchange. We asked Ms. Pandolfo about her opinion on why women must continue to tell their stories.
About Ms. Pandolfo:
Nicole Pandolfo is currently a 2016-17 Dramatist Guild Fellow and was recently selected for a 2017 commission with Premiere Stages at Kean University as part of the NJPAC Stage Exchange. Her work has been developed through the Jerome Foundation, The Actors Studio, the Lark, and NJ Rep among others, and she was a finalist for the Stanley Drama Award, the Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship, and the Leah Ryan Fund for Emerging Women Writers. She is a member of The Actors Studio in the Playwright/Director Unit directed by Lyle Kessler and received her MFA at Hunter College. She is a staff writer for Whersky and has written for American Theatre Magazine. Her plays appear in numerous publications and have been produced on four continents.
Q: Why did you become a playwright?
Nicole: I grew up in New Jersey and my first experience working in theatre was taking acting classes across the river at the Walnut Street Theatre School in Philadelphia. At my high school in Jersey we didn't have dramatic or creative writing classes, but there was the annual spring musical, which I always participated in and which was the best part about high school for me. It was during this time that I tapped into the kind of electricity that theatre brought to my life. Working in theatre gives me a similar feeling to when I’m lounging on a beautiful beach or dining at a fantastic restaurant or riding horses. My childhood and adolescence in New Jersey would provide the inspiration for many of my plays. I write a lot about the working class and people who are longing for something just beyond their grasp and hopefully these stories bring something meaningful to the audience.
I went to college at NYU and did some creative writing and screenwriting there, but not writing for the stage. After NYU I took an improv class at HB Studio where I met one of my dearest friends, the great comic book artist Kevin Maguire, and he suggested we take a playwriting class together, though he never did end up enrolling. It was lucky anyway because it was in Julie McKee’s amazing class at HB Studio where I learned the basics of playwriting. Kevin did go on to direct my first 10-minute play and I remember being at the bar with my family and friends after a really great show and it was just the best feeling I’d ever had. Writing is mostly really hard and lonely. You’re forced to be alone with yourself and face yourself over and over, which is daunting. But after, when you get to work with a bunch of dedicated, talented, and kind people to bring the story to the stage it's incredibly fulfilling.
Q: Why do you believe women must continue to tell their stories?
Nicole: Women are not heard in most places around the world and so it is important for us along with other marginalized voices to seize our opportunities to contribute to the narrative. The day after our election I literally had to be pulled out of bed. Women in the United States and across the world were reminded that we can be 100 percent more suited for the job and still be passed over because of our gender—something we’ve all suspected in our hearts, but hoped wasn’t true. But now we know it is true and so we have the hard work of dismantling it, and other prejudices, brick by brick. Women and their stories deserve space. Our experiences are unique. They mean something. They touch people. So we have to tell them. If they don’t want to listen then we have to grab the megaphone and get the giant speakers from Best Buy and the fancy gaffer tape and in the words of the great Bob Dylan, “play it f@3%ing loud.”
A reading of Nicole's latest play Brick City for NJPAC Stage Exchange in will be held on Friday, May 5, 2017, 7:00 pm at NJPAC. Tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased here. Visit www.nicolepandolfo.com to stay updated on her lastest ventures. And follow NJTA on Facebook and Twitter for news on next week's blog as we continue to celebrate Women's History Month and NJPAC Stage Exchange news. Click here to learn more about our Women's History Month project.