"Our First Times" premiers in NYC
Carbondale—SIU Playwright Jacob Juntunen has been on a veritable tear in 2016 with a book release, a fellowship, and now the premier of a newly commissioned play in New York City.
Juntunen (pictured, right) was included in a group of playwrights invited by the Core Artist Ensemble, a New York City theater company, to take inspiration from a thought-provoking podcast episode of their own choosing. For Juntunen, the result was “Our First Times,” commissioned and performed by the company, which was a creative reaction to National Public Radio’s “The Takeaway: Disappointed, not surprised; Stanford and American rape culture.”
Rachel Casparian, director of the New York premier, had worked with Juntunen before on an earlier play he had written for the Core Artist Ensemble, and says she found him to be “a generous collaborator in the rehearsal room” in addition to his ability to “transcend”, in his plays, “the potentially isolating experience of his characters with vivid dialogue and an artfully devised structure that puts his audience in his protagonist’s shoes.”
Casparian says she especially admires Juntunen’s ability to lead an audience through a spectrum of emotion to a place of greater empathy: “I've been lucky to witness this effect several times now with Jacob's plays, and our company looks forward to more opportunities to bring his work to our stage.”
In addition to the recent dramatization, Dr. Juntunen is the recipient of the James Fisher Fellowship, awarded by American Theatre and Drama Society, and the author of “Mainstream AIDS Theatre, the Media, and Gay Civil Rights: Making the Radical Palatable,” published by Routledge.