and then one feels great anxiety / dann wird man von großer unruhe ergriffen- 2018

Jenna Kuerzi

and then one feels great anxiety

Dinah from Starlight Express defects to East Germany in 1987.


Jenna Kuerzi

and then one feels great anxiety started from a conversation with an actor over the summer of 2018. she was in the pig iron mfa program and was interested in doing something outside her comfort zone. i asked her a bunch of questions and she mentioned she spoke german and had family in germany. in addition, i was speaking to another actor who was interested in something having to do with being russian but not playing a gangster moll or whatever. i was doing research on germany and came across the story of a woman who defected to east germany for political reasons and later had to run once the berlin wall fell. i started with idea of a sister going to try to find clues of the life of her sister who defected to east germany. i wrote 15 page start and sent it to the two actors. the pig iron one never responded to me and the other one said what i wrote was exactly the type of character she didnt want to play. i tried to explain i like to start with something and figure out what it wasnt. clearly, she wasnt interested.

i liked the idea of someone defecting to east germany but not for clear political reasons. i knew i couldnt write AN ESPIONAGE PLAY.I then got in touch with jennifer summerrfield, an actor i worked with before. she readily agreed to the project and we were shooting for november

i was grousing to chris munden it was hard to find actors interested and he pointed me in the direction of jenna kuerzi who quickly agreed to do whatever. so, by the end of may, i had a cast and an idea and show date.

i did research on west berlin in the 70s and 80s and learned about david bowie and grace jones spending formative years performing and soaking up the culture. moreso david bowie. i was interested in the fact he lived there in the 70s, spent a ton of time with starving artists and then basically took their act and made a ton of money off of it and then
moved on.

i became interested in idea of a world weary mentor urging her protege to defect to the east to become a true star and not become bitter and disillusioned like her. the play was going to be their last hour together before the young one defected to east berlin. dramatic goodbyes and declarations of whatever plus they were high and drunk. at the end, the young one leaves to go and then comes back 10 minutes later because the border was closed. the end.

i listened to the grace jones album nightclubbing that summer a ton.

i remembered an actor i used to work with did a tour of starlight express in germany and created idea of an actor stuck in a touring company show and being bitter and disillusioned.

at the end of september, the actors still hadnt sent me their availability for november. at this point, jennifer dropped out due to her commitment to playing medea at hedgerow. instead of recasting her part, i decided to move the play from the anticipation of defecting to the young actor actually in the process of defecting to east germany and what we see is her declaring her allegiance to her new country and explaining who she is and the life she left behind. So, i basically wrote a 28 page monologue for jenna.

at first, she was super excited to do a one woman show. i think then the reality of the work set in and she also had booked a few other shows for november sho she was quite busy and now committed to doing a one woman show that was as she referred to it, ’30 pages of blabber.’ we rehearsed for two weeks and put the show up.

I think it is pretty impressive what we created out of 30 pages of blabber.