Picture of Jasmine Lee-Jones

Credit: Helen Murray

What are the themes of your play?

Thematically it’s about friendship particularly between womxn.  It’s about growing up, coming of age, and that place between being a girl and a womxn and if that’s a thing. It’s about the big -isms and -cisms and structures, and what they mean on a personal level.  It’s also about communication literally within friendships and also our communication, how those characters as twenty-first century young womxn are being reflected through the internet and Twitter; and the way it’s impacted how we live and how we communicate information and process politics.  The other big thing I’ll say is it’s about the past and our understanding of the past.  There are two types of pasts – there’s historical past and there’s present day past and it’s about how the two interlink and how to have a relationship with the past going forward.  The thing that resonates with me is two young black womxn deciding to go on a journey of self-discovery, self-realisation, and self-actualisation; and how it’s different when you are living dual identities, when you’re a womxn and you’re black or all of the other different identities.

Why did you write it and why now?

I wanted to write a play that was accurate about how me and the young black wxmen I’ve grown up with are living now.  Down to the way we speak, behave, the mistakes we make: everything.  Growing up I watched a lot of American TV – particularly the show Girlfriends – and it was the only place I saw images and experiences that resembled my own.  I wanted to write something that would hold a mirror up to the young Black-British wxmen I know now because it’s something I rarely ever see especially in theatre.

Which playwrights are you influenced by and why?

debbie tucker green has been a huge inspiration to me personally and professionally. Her fearlessness with form, decision-making and staying true to her artistry has really been a thing to look to when I doubt myself as an artist.  Lorraine Hansberry introduced me to playwriting when I read.  Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury blew my mind – I’m still in shock – it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read and definitely my favourite play at the moment.  I love the mutability of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins voice – you can watch or read two things by him and not tell it’s the same person who authored it – it’s incredible. I’m also in love with Trevor Rhone’s play Two Can Play – I did an impromptu reading of it in my room with my Mum once, so it’s very special to me.  I’m looking forward to engaging with Caribbean theatre-makers and playwrights more in the future.

What do you want to achieve as a playwright?

I want to keep committed to challenging myself as an artist – I think it can be very easy to stay in your comfort zone and the confines of what people expect you to do or write. I want to keep telling stories of things that matter to me and at the moment those stories centre black wxmen and non-binary people – I’m committed to telling our stories truthfully and fearlessly.  Also, this might be a controversial thing to say, but I want to achieve stability.  I think we need to destigmatise the conversation around finance and financial stability in the arts.  The starving artist archetype really frustrates me at times.  I work hard and I deserve to be paid well and fairly for doing so.  I’m also interested in empowering young people particularly queer and non-binary people of colour to pursue a career in the arts if they so desire and make it seem possible for them.