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UCSD Theatre Blog Interview

Joan Beber

alumna from UCSD’s Concurrent Enrollment Program

JOAN BEBER has worked primarily as a visual artist in her early career, experimenting with painting, performance, playwriting, installation art & poetry. While raising four daughters, she exhibited her work in San Diego County. Her one person shows included The UCSD Annex Gallery, The Jewish Community Center Gallery & The Art Institute in Balboa Park. Having graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in English Literature many years earlier, Joan spent ten years in UCSD’s Concurrent Enrollment Program to prepare for graduate school. After three years of commuting from San Diego & competing with younger students, she received her MFA at age sixty-seven from USC. Hunger: In Bed with Roy Cohn, written at seventy-three, was her first produced play in Los Angeles and a world premiere. At the risk of his career as an attorney, Joan’s father tried to exonerate Ethel in the early 50s.

Of the many plays you’ve written over three decades, which do you favor?

I prefer WE’RE LIKE TREES to my previous plays. It is more original and thoughtful.

What book are you reading currently?

I've been rereading THE WIZARD OF OZ. I saw the film with my twin, Jane, at about age fifteen. Any deep meaning completely escaped me then. Now, however, I'm intrigued by it.

In 2017 you had a production Off Broadway -DEAR JANE - that gives the journey of an artist, Julie’s divergent past. From Julie’s injured ties with her identical twin Jane, to her love affairs and parenting, and to her life as a political activist, your play utilized music and choreography. Was the play autobiographical? Why did you choose music and movement?

Oddly enough since I'm confined quite a bit to my home, I've had more chances to grow. Before this I never composed on the piano. We are hyper about many things today. I'm not sure why. I chose music and movement in the play because I've always worked with both. unlike my twin. I loved the piano.
Piano keys "float" on theatre walls as I or another pianist plays them. Ethereal images can be projected on stage or on the walls. There are no limitations. The piano or any other instrument can be use. I often watch film clips. Example: If soldiers are shown being killed as "lively music " is heard. And yet the effect is even more compelling.