FEATURE: Jennifer Joplin Talks “Other Desert Cities”

Jen Joplin HeadshotJennifer Joplin, who will star in OTHER DESERT CITIES at the Human Race Theatre in Dayton, Ohio starting on March 27th took time to answer a few questions.

Hi there.  Thanks so much for giving us a few minutes of your time. Can you tell our readers some of your history in theatre?

Joneal Joplin, Jennifer's father, will star in WAITING FOR GODOT at Cincinnati Shakespare Company next season
Joneal Joplin, Jennifer’s father, will star in WAITING FOR GODOT at Cincinnati Shakespare Company next season

I’ve been around theatre all my life as my childhood was spent one block from the St. Louis Reparatory Company where my father, Joneal Joplin, was a member of their core company.  I acted throughout high school and then graduated from Wright State’s Professional Actor Training Program in 1994.  My very first professional acting job was in “The Elephant Man” at The Human Race, directed by Marsha Hanna in their 1992-93 season.  I’ve been coming back to work with them ever since!  I’ve lived in Chicago, Cleveland and New York am now very happy to call Cincinnati home and enjoy all of the regional theatre opportunities this area has to offer – there are MANY!  I live there with my husband Jason of jsheldonphoto.com, my 6 yr old, Max and our dog the size of Montana, Superdog.

Your home base is Cincinnati Shakespeare Company where I believe you do more than perform.  What are your duties there?

This is my third year as their Development Associate.  Primarily I work with corporate sponsors and serve as a sponsor liaison.  I’m also in charge of Special Events and Fundraisers including our very first “Revel & Feast” this April 23rd which will celebrate our 20th season, our completion of Shakespeare’s 38-play canon (1 of only 5 US theatres to do so!) AND the Bard’s 450th birthday all in one night.  It’s a huge undertaking but I’m absolutely thrilled with how all of the elements are falling into place.  It’s going to be fabulous!!

I saw OTHER DESERT CITIES when Ensemble produced it last year, but many of my readers may not be familiar with the story.  Can you tell us a little about the show?

I play Brooke Wyeth, a blocked writer who has recently battled severe depression.  She is returning to her parents home in Palm Springs for Christmas.  Joined by her brother, Trip, and her aunt, Silda, she spends a really intense day with her family as she reveals that her newest book is not a novel but a memoir about this very guarded family and their lives in Hollywood, the Republican Party and their role in horrible past event.  Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to cover it!  It’s very funny and bright and heartbreaking.  Truly about love, secrets and what you are willing to do – and not do – for family.

OTHER DESERT CITIES is above all else a play about family dynamics.  How are you approaching your role in this show?   

I will say, I’ve had a whole season of dysfunctional families:  “Rapture, Blister, Burn” and “Tribes” at Ensemble and now this.  It is a crystal clear reminder of how blessed I am to have a VERY functional family!

Kate Young, Scott Stoney, Sherman Fracher, Aaron Vega, and Jennifer Joplin star in OTHER DESERT CITIES / Photo by Scott J. Kimmins
Kate Young, Scott Stoney, Sherman Fracher, Aaron Vega, and Jennifer Joplin star in OTHER DESERT CITIES / Photo by Scott J. Kimmins

What’s it like to work with such a strong cast, including Aaron Vega, Sherman Fracher, Kate Young, and Scott Stoney?

The cast is so strong and as I’ve said more than once to them, we’ve created a sense of safety in the rehearsal process that allows us to make “dangerous”, bold choices.  We know we’re there for each other.  Scott Stoney was actually in “Elephant Man” with me years ago so it’s amazing to play with him again!  I’m very lucky to have worked with Margarett Perry (our director) before on “God of Carnage.”  I love her process and her dedication to simply telling the story and telling the truth.  The clearest and most memorable moments come from that.

We look forward to seeing the show, Jennifer.  Thanks again for spending some time with us.  Break a leg!

OTHER DESERT CITIES runs 3/27 – 4/13 at the Human Race Theatre in Dayton.  Tickets are available here.  Also, make sure you get your ticket for the gigantic celebration of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s completion of the Shakespearean canon on April 23rd.  REVEL AND FEAST will be a great night and Jennifer Joplin is at the helm of this event! 

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