Julia Jarcho is a playwright and director from New York City with the company Minor Theater. Her play Grimly Handsome (Incubator Arts Project 2013, JACK 2015) won a 2013 Obie Award for Best New American Play. Other plays include The Terrifying (Abrons Arts Center 2017), Every Angel is Brutal (Clubbed Thumb Summerworks 2016), Nomads (Incubator 2014), Dreamless Land (New York City Players/Abrons 2011), American Treasure (13P 2009), The Highwayman(NTUSA performance space 2004), and Delmar, which the visual artist Meredith James made into a movie installation (Jack Hanley Gallery 2014). She has received a Doris Duke Impact Award (2014), a Sarah Verdone Writing Award (2016), and grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Venturous Fund. She is an LCT New Writer in Residence at Lincoln Center and has been a MacDowell fellow, an Advisory Board member at Young Playwrights Inc., and a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation and the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference. She has a PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and teaches in the English Department at NYU. Her book Minor Theater: Three Plays is available from 53rd State Press and her first critical book, Writing and the Modern Stage: Theater Beyond Drama, is published by Cambridge University Press.
EVERY ANGEL IS BRUTAL
In this darkly comic spy-action thriller, three American college girls are recruited to serve their country undercover in Berlin. Years later, they learn something really bad about what they did, and they reunite to take thirtysomething revenge on the man who exploited them.
Premiere with Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks (June 2016).
“Ms. Jarcho specializes in letting the air out of traditional pop genres and then poking at their deflated remains.” – The New York Times
“Julia Jarcho is one of our more compelling playwrights.” – Time Out New York
a new show about fear, from Minor Theater (currently in-progress)
Experimenting with soundscapes and tableaux, textures of darkness and silence, THE TERRIFYING searches for a visceral scariness specific to live theater. The experience takes shape around the story of two kids in a village on the cusp of modernity, terrorized by a ravening monster. Twisting the tropes of the horror genre into something strange and lyrical, we explore the question of how you can live every day with forces that want to destroy you-- including the urge to destroy yourself.
In the late 1930s, two American women drift free of their social ties, meet dangerous strangers, and circulate irresponsibly through other people's landscapes. Will their darker desires claim them forever? Probably. Inspired by the writings of Jane Bowles.
Premiered at Incubator Arts Project (June 2014).
A pair of sinister Christmas tree salesmen have come to wreak havoc on our fair city. A pair of detectives are bent on catching the killer. A young woman finds herself drawn into their cat-and-mouse games and transformed in ways she could never have imagined. Meanwhile, wild animals have been sighted in the vacant lot across the street. Are they dogs? Raccoons? Or something more ferocious?
Premiered at Incubator Arts Project Other Forces Festival (2013). OBIE winner for Best New American Play (2013). UK Premiere at The Royal Court (2017).
“Richard Maxwell described the experience of reading a script by Julia Jarcho: “It has density and yet it still feels ephemeral.” He wasn’t talking about GRIMLY HANDSOME but he easily could have been…(a) poetic and often very funny script.” – The New York Times (Critics Pick)
(5 out of 5 stars) It is wrong to tell you too much about GRIMLY HANDSOME, Julia Jarcho’s superbly wicked caprice…It’s much better to awaken slowly to the creepiness of Jarcho’s deep, dark woods, to go blithely into her Grimm landscape, which rustles with talking animals, smiling predators and language gone elliptical and awry…Jarcho, directing her own work, pulls off miracles. – Time Out New York
"disconcerting and gripping...a nightmarish evening of Lynchian strangeness...It’s very neatly done, the fine trio of actors rising to the technical challenges of a piece that worms its way into the brain and send you scurrying out into the city blinking – and more attuned to what might lurk behind the bright, seductive lights." - The Guardian
"It’s baffling. It’s borderline barmy. But it’s also kind of brilliant." - The Stage
Haley’s best friend Morton is about to go meet his estranged father in Las Vegas. As Haley imagines Morton’s experience, she pieces together her own version of her friend’s “broken home.” Ten years later, Haley seems to be living a grown-up life, but the fantasies of her teen years slowly start interrupting reality again.
Premiered with New York City Players (2011). Developed through the Resident Playwrights Initiative at the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco
“…what hasn’t been said matters more than what has been said, and naturalistic banality evolves into something like philosophy. DREAMLESS LAND maps this strange linguistic territory, particularly the tricky places where we mishear, misspeak and let assumptions substitute for meaning. Here, in fact, implication and suggestion supplant plot itself…the brilliant Jarcho’s tonal froideur penetrates our bones too well, and our attention, loosened by something so tonally homogenous—drifts in the Antarctic chill.” – Time Out New York
Fracture, dislocation, and fear define every aspect of this dystopian American nightmare.Ms. Jarcho…is a master of (modernism)…DREAMLESS LAND is a must-see for anyone who enjoys the method and craftsmanship of Modernist theater – and for anyone who enjoys peering into the fractured mirror of modern life. – Cultural Capitol
One night, a Real History Detective meets a gumptious young vagabond with a harrowing past. Together, they’ll follow a paper trail of blood and tears that goes all the way back to this nation’s beginning. Or somewhere else.
Premiered with 13P (2009). Developed at the 2009 Bay Area Playwrights Festival
“AMERICAN TREASURE is an odd, dense, oblique but haunting work..(Jarcho is) a remarkably clever, bewitching writer and a master of stylized behavior.” – The New York Times
2 or 3F, 4 or 3M (6 total)
Bess keeps finding herself in another world: The Inn, a haven for wanderers and vagabonds in a landscape plagued by death and bad weather. There, she awaits the man she’s meant for. He’s definitely coming –- unless something terrible happens. A play about reading, riding, and going wild, inspired by Alfred Noyes’s ballad.
Workshop production: NTUSA performance space, 2004
Developed at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, 2002
Published in The Best American Short Plays 2005-2006 (Applause)
3 or 2F, 1 or 2M (4 total)
A little girl runs away from her broken home and moves in with a pair of royal exiles, hoping to find new meaning in their mysterious ways. Meanwhile, her mother and brother become involved in a dangerous plan to change the world. A one-act play in English and Spanish.
Workshop production: Prenzlkasper, Berlin, Germany, 2005