Playwrights Who Matter: JT Rogers

JT’s writing came to my attention by way of an unsolicited submission from his agent – John Buzzetti – who sent me a copy of White People . The writing immediately appealed to me: politically-charged, muscular, straightforward and ruthlessly honest. In spite of the difficult structure of the play: three separate monologues by three characters using direct-address interconnecting thematically but almost never dramatically, the play and its characters fly off the page, begging to be staged. The character of the woman achieves tragic stature as a victim-come-to-collect from her victimizers. The men – one an unredeemed racist, the other an East Coast liberal college professor – are equally-memorable creations: tragically flawed, conflicted, contradictory.

In Madagascar, oblique intimations of incest and familial betrayal coexist with elegant talk about Roman antiquity and travel, all couched in a dense, complex, uncannily theatrical language. In The Overwhelming, the theme of the Holocaust of an African nation is taken on unflinchingly, along with an insightful examination of our American culpability and the cruel, clueless crass attitude towards the debacle of the contemporary third world that permeating our think tanks.

JT has the courage to write about the unpalatable. His courage pays off in the long run, as witness his Madagascar, which won the coveted Osborne Prize from the American Theatre Critics Association, and his The Overwhelming, picked up for a production and a tour of Great Britain by the National Theatre, no less.

Most recently, JT won the Tony Award for Best Play for Oslo, which has gone on to pre-production and casting at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain.

JT’s day is here, finally. With a young family to support, this could not happen to a more deserving, more valiant man of the theatre.

Rafael de Acha

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