From PlayFest: Len Jenkin on ‘Time in Kafka’

Here’s a Q&A with playwright Len Jenkin, followed by a little biographical info:

What’s your play about, in a couple of sentences?

The play is about an assistant professor at a small American college, idealistic, passionate,  and then fired — who has a dream that Kafka left the manuscript of an unknown novel he wrote at a sanatorium on Lake Garda in Italy. He follows that mad dream, goes there to find it, and in the process, slips back in time into a familiar yet very different world  … His wife pursues him, trying to find him … It’s play about love, literature, dreams/obsessions, and Kafka …

What was the impetus that made you want to write it?

My deep and abiding interest in Kafka,  his work and his life — to explore the idea of travel in time –the idea of writing something with a largely European setting (which I’ve never done before) — and to write a love story — the story of an obsession — and a mystery …

Has it been produced anywhere else?

No.

What do you hope to get out of its inclusion in PlayFest?

I hope to learn from what the wonderful director, David Lee (who has done great productions of my work in the past) will bring to the play and discover in it — to learn from the work of the actors — and to learn from the response of the audience. And I’m looking forward to simply hearing the play hit the air for the first time — to see for myself how it works and what it feels like off the page.

Len Jenkin’s plays include Margo Veil, Dark Ride, Pilgrims of The Night, Careless Love, My Uncle Sam, Limbo Tales and Like I Say. His works for the stage, often directed by him, have been produced throughout the United States, as well as in England, France, Germany and Japan.  His films include Blame It on the Night, Welcome to Oblivion, and American Notes. His novel N Judah is currently available in bookstores and on the web at lenjenkin.com.

His adaptations for the stage include Voltaire’s Candide (Guthrie Theater, Minn.), Aristophanes’ The Birds (Yale Repertory Theater, New Haven), and Kafka’s A Country Doctor (Classic Stage Company, NY).

He has received many honors and awards, including three Obie awards for Directing and Playwriting, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Award, a nomination for an Emmy Award, and four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Mr. Jenkin holds a PhD in American Literature from Columbia University. He’s a professor in the dramatic writing department, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

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