Mackenzie Jahnke

Author of The Last Dance [Cupcake Reading Series, October 2011]

Mackenzie Jahnke graduated from Cornish College of the Arts this past May.  She originally went to Cornish for acting, and only realized her passion for writing two years ago, when on a whim she applied for their Original Works program.  She’s been crazy about writing ever since.  Right after graduation she travelled to New York to work as the Admissions Intern at New Dramatists, an organization dedicated to supporting amazing playwrights and helping them develop their plays.  She has just returned to Seattle and is overjoyed and incredibly grateful to be making her writing debut with Live Girls!

Where did the idea for The Last Dance come from?

I actually have no idea. I was outside one night talking to my partner and all of a sudden I felt a huge desire to write and when I did, this came out. So I suppose I could probably credit my partner as my inspiration.

What is your favorite moment in the play?
My favorite moment in the play is the last few seconds before the lights go out. I like the tranquil feeling that I believe is both a mixture of happiness and sadness.

Who is your current playwright crush?
I currently have two playwright crushes one is on Sarah Hammond and the other is on Sibyl Kempson. I find I am constantly thinking about their plays, wondering how I can make my own more like theirs. Sarah’s plays have this haunting beauty to them, a warm sentimentality that is addictive. Sibyl’s plays are out of this world; she knows no boundaries and is absolutely fearless as a writer. If you haven’t read their work, I highly recommend it.

What advice would you give to aspiring playwrights?
I am an aspiring playwright, please give me your advice!!!

What kind of theater do you love?
I love theater that is unpredictable, that keeps me guessing, completely un-formulaic. I always crave plays that speak to current issues without making me feel like I’m being preached too. I think it is amazing when plays can be written about social issues while remaining universal and timeless. I know however this is an incredibly difficult task and something I constantly struggle with myself.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on two plays right now one about our current political climate (well see if it ever gets finished) and one about the stigma that surrounds suicide in our society.

Outside of theater, what are you really into?
I’m enjoying being out of school more than I can possibly say. I’m about to start the prison outreach program with Freehold Theater where we aid inmates with writing and producing their own play. I love gardening, hiking, and am very excited for the arrival of my nephew in November!

Do you have a least and favorite word?
I grew up being hard of hearing so I could never hear the “s” sound after the consonants t, p, and k. Now that I can I love words like Ghosts, Tasks, etc. My favorite one of these words would be the word “Masks” I love how the “m” sound melts into the sharp “k” sound and ends with the sizzling “s”. I can’t think of a word I hate right now, but I don’t enjoy the word “twice” as I always feel it sounds weird coming out of my mouth… does anyone else feel this way?

Is there a question you would like to see posed to other playwrights?
As we all know writing is a very solitary art, I would like to know how other playwrights manage their writing schedules. Tricks they’ve learned to make sure they are getting enough writing in.