Jennie M. Jadow is a popular and respected professional Berkshire area actor and theatre educator. Born and raised in Stockbridge, her parents took her as a newborn to see Shakespeare & Company’s very first performance at The Mount, which was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She ended up being in the cast of Midsummer when the company performed it for the last time outdoors at The Mount. Jennie earned her BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. After some time living and working in Manhattan, she moved back home to work at the BTG and realized that she could have a really rich artistic life in the Berkshires.

Since then Jennie has worked with many of the major Berkshire arts organizations. In between stints in the Education Department at Shakespeare & Company, where she currently works, Jennie ran the Education Department at Barrington Stage Company. To enhance with her work with Shakespeare & Company’s Shakespeare in the Courts program, Jennie earned a Masters in Clinical Psychology and Dance & Movement Therapy.

She joins WAM this season as co-producer of and performer in our June 4 Fresh Takes play reading of The Droll by Meg Miroshnik.

WAM THEATRE: The Droll is a fascinating play. When did you first encounter it?

JENNIE M. JADOW: I was invited to take part in a table read of The Droll at Shakespeare & Company after Kristen van Ginhoven, and others, recommended it to them. In subsequent conversation with Kristen we discovered that it was a piece we both believed in strongly.

WAM: The Droll is set in 17th Century Puritan England, when theatre was outlawed. The story centers on a young man who joins an underground theatrical troupe who are striving to perform one last Hamlet. That is an adventurous concept. How did you initially connect with the piece?

JENNIE: It took me a couple of reads to really get connected – there’s so much happening! – but after we did the table read, I got it. You can’t just read the play, you need to hear it. Meg Miroshnik’s work holds much that is fascinating to me – an innovation with language, rich and complex characters, and an engaging structure that allows for the audience’s imagination to have ample space to create the surrounding circumstances of the play.

WAM: Two of our recent Fresh Takes plays have used a modern take on the English language of an earlier time – Silence by Moira Buffini, which is set in the Dark Ages, and The Last Wife by Kate Hennig, which will be our fall MainStage production, set in Tudor England. How does Miroshnik’s language in The Droll compare in terms of accessibility?

JENNIE: The play is written in “Drollspeak,” a language Miroshnik created for this play. It’s very much in English, you won’t need a translator to understand it, but you will need to allow your ear to adjust a little bit. The language that she’s crafted and uses has a very particular texture to it. It doesn’t feel exclusionary, it is of a piece with the world she has created for the play.

WAM: Today the arts in America are threatened with budget cuts that would defund the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and public television and radio. These cuts are proposals only at this stage, but The Droll is set in a time when the Puritan government in England had ordered that all the theatres be closed and razed, all actors be whipped, and anyone caught attending a play be fined five shillings!

JENNIE: I don’t want to make it all about the politics, because it isn’t, but between the time I first read the play and now the story has become more and more timely. The Droll really explores what it means for a people and for their culture to be deprived of the arts.

As I re-read the play this winter I was most struck by two lines:
James: All we need, Nim, is one child. To hear the play.
Nim: And wrap it up in paper and put it in his heart.

This idea of awakening a child to the power of theatre, so that a future generation can carry forth an awareness of culture and art, even in the darkest of times, and, potentially, at great personal cost, highlights for me the active role of the artist in our society. When the world seems dark, we have often looked to the arts to be a reflection of our better selves, and I think The Droll allows us to explore what risks we are willing to take in order to keep our artistic light shining.

WAM: You joined our 2016 Fresh Takes season reading the leading role in Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. This time out you are co-producing as well as reading a role. What do you see as your role as co-producer? Is this your first time working in that capacity?

JENNIE: At Barrington Stage I produced their Youth Theatre productions, and at Shakespeare & Company we are all working artists, so I have worn the producer’s hat there too. For me producing is about doing everything that helps a show arrive at its final destination – fund-raising, casting, advertising, selecting a performance venue, etc. I produce to make sure I am engaged with art I believe in, and to move that art forward. I wanted this reading to happen and I was willing to do whatever it took to make the art come to life.

WAM: You and the WAM Team have assembled a really exciting cast for this reading.

JENNIE: Yes, there is only one gentleman in the cast who I don’t know personally, but I have seen him on stage. Some are colleagues from Shakespeare & Company who I enjoy playing with. Everyone is really beautifully suited to their roles and will bring a lot of heart and soul to the piece. I am excited to get into the rehearsal room with everyone on June 3!

WAM: And what’s ahead for you and The Droll?

JENNIE: I am working in the Shakespeare & Company education program this summer; and looking forward to spending time enjoying the Berkshires with my husband and our 4-year-old daughter. As for the play, I would love to see a full production of The Droll in this region soon. It was workshopped at the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep in 2014, and had a successful production at the Undermain Theatre in Dallas, TX, in 2015. I just know Berkshire audiences will love it, and I hope lots of folks come to this Fresh Takes reading to get an idea of what’s in store!

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