Jonathan Luskin

Jonathan Luskin

My plays have been staged at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, PlayGround, PianoFight, Shotz, and the Playwrights Lab. My full-length play Kill the Wabbit was recently produced at the University of the Pacific. It explores identity and gender through motion capture animation and live performance.
I have been awarded commissions from PlayGround, Shotz, and the Sloan Foundation, which staged my short...
My plays have been staged at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, PlayGround, PianoFight, Shotz, and the Playwrights Lab. My full-length play Kill the Wabbit was recently produced at the University of the Pacific. It explores identity and gender through motion capture animation and live performance.
I have been awarded commissions from PlayGround, Shotz, and the Sloan Foundation, which staged my short play, Early Adopter, at the Magic Theatre. I’m a two-time alumnus of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and a resident playwright at PlayGround. I co-founded The Angst Ensemble, where I produced and directed dark comedies. I am a partner at Flying Moose Pictures, where I write and direct films for performing artists, non-profits, and corporations.

Plays

  • Perfect
    Perfect interleaves three stories that explore the nature of disability and genetic enhancement, and what parents will do to give their children the very best advantages in life. The play is inspired by the recent discovery of CRISPR-Cas9, a faster, less expensive, more accurate DNA editing technology.
  • Kill the Wabbit (formerly, Ecce Homo)
    A romantic comedy. Troy Steel is an aspiring action movie hero, fired from a reality television show for his inability to lie, and left publicly humiliated but internationally famous. Annabella is a talented actress, too big-boned and brusque for a career on screen, she can only find work performing behind the mask of computer animated characters. When Troy is hired to animate a heroic warrior using a motion-...
    A romantic comedy. Troy Steel is an aspiring action movie hero, fired from a reality television show for his inability to lie, and left publicly humiliated but internationally famous. Annabella is a talented actress, too big-boned and brusque for a career on screen, she can only find work performing behind the mask of computer animated characters. When Troy is hired to animate a heroic warrior using a motion-capture suit, he is unable to perform even the simplest of scenes without suffering a crisis of confidence. The producer coerces Annabella to act Troy’s part for him. The animated pilot is a wild success and Troy and Annabella are bound together by her secret work on his behalf and his unknowing collaboration. Their journey together is perilously guided by therapy sessions with Oona, a plush-toy orca whale, and Troy’s grandparents, famous vaudeville actors who return from the past.
  • n of 1
    Will is a lawyer whose slide into dementia is accompanied by a sudden talent for painting dazzling works of art. Even as Will loses his ability to speak and understand language, his creative skills flourish. Julia, his partner, is tormented by Will's increasingly aberrant and violent behavior. She and Gabe, a neurologist, are challenged to control Will's outbursts without quashing his newly discovered...
    Will is a lawyer whose slide into dementia is accompanied by a sudden talent for painting dazzling works of art. Even as Will loses his ability to speak and understand language, his creative skills flourish. Julia, his partner, is tormented by Will's increasingly aberrant and violent behavior. She and Gabe, a neurologist, are challenged to control Will's outbursts without quashing his newly discovered creative abilities--the last expression of his undaunted human spirit.

    Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a progressive brain disorder that causes dramatic changes in behavior and language. Individuals with FTD may begin swearing in public, overeating, drinking, shoplifting, and making inappropriate sexual comments. Not all patients with FTD lose cognitive abilities in a predictable fashion; some develop a new interest in painting or music and produce remarkable works of art. Thus the juxtaposition of a debilitating change in personality with the emergence of artistic creativity. FTD is thought to be the second most common form of dementia, after Alzheimer's Disease.

    n of 1 explores how the human spirit tenaciously survives, even flourishes, despite extraordinary challenges. The rise of new, creative skills in patients with dementia has forced neurologists to rethink fundamental beliefs about dementing conditions and the care of their patients. Doctors must reimagine their patients as whole people with both strengths and weaknesses and help them cope with their diseases by using art and music. The focus of the play is not a medical condition, but rather how the condition joins artistic expression and neuroscience, what it tells us about the brain, and what it means to be human.

    n is the name of the arithmetic variable used to symbolize a total number of data samples- -the number of patients in a study or the number of brains examined. n is always too small, too few patients or brains. And yet, when confronted by an anomaly, a neurologist must take a leap of faith, despite a sample size of only one. The play juxtaposes the science of neurology with a personal belief that we are more than just neurons and brain matter, the faith, based on our own personal data point, our "n of 1," in the existence of the human soul.
  • Seder
    1968. Connecticut. Manny and his family sit down to a peaceful Passover dinner and celebrate not only the Jewish holiday, but an impending deal to sell the family business. But when the door is opened for Elijah, it's brother Willie, a former bootlegger and convict, who walks in and threatens the family. Manny must take decisive action, even if it means revealing secrets that may alienate his son, end his...
    1968. Connecticut. Manny and his family sit down to a peaceful Passover dinner and celebrate not only the Jewish holiday, but an impending deal to sell the family business. But when the door is opened for Elijah, it's brother Willie, a former bootlegger and convict, who walks in and threatens the family. Manny must take decisive action, even if it means revealing secrets that may alienate his son, end his marriage, and destroy the family business.
  • Inner Monkey
    A troubled couple, Lou and Leslie, are prescribed a camping trip by their marriage counselor. Goaded by insights gained in the fresh mountain air, they confront each other through brutal drama therapy games. Leslie, who has always depended on men for happiness, falls for the affections of a lusty Forest Ranger while Lou, burdened by angst, speaks therapeutically to the trout. Leslie must choose between her...
    A troubled couple, Lou and Leslie, are prescribed a camping trip by their marriage counselor. Goaded by insights gained in the fresh mountain air, they confront each other through brutal drama therapy games. Leslie, who has always depended on men for happiness, falls for the affections of a lusty Forest Ranger while Lou, burdened by angst, speaks therapeutically to the trout. Leslie must choose between her marriage, the Ranger, or the strange new discovery of her own animal nature.
  • The Long Arc
    The Long Arc follows a political wife who wrestles with her own ambitions as she grapples with a philandering spouse.
    The play features double casting for the central characters: Mark, a charismatic Connecticut congressman, and Anna, his highly intelligent but publicly disliked wife. One set of actors plays Anna and Mark as they appear in public, while a complementary set portrays their private personas...
    The Long Arc follows a political wife who wrestles with her own ambitions as she grapples with a philandering spouse.
    The play features double casting for the central characters: Mark, a charismatic Connecticut congressman, and Anna, his highly intelligent but publicly disliked wife. One set of actors plays Anna and Mark as they appear in public, while a complementary set portrays their private personas.
    The action unfolds in three acts. Each reimagines the story along a different arc, with a different outcome that corresponds to choices made by Anna in response to her husband's betrayal.
    In Act I, Anna submits to public humiliation, supporting her husband unconditionally to safeguard her children and family.
    In Act II, Anna sacrifices her family, and her ambitions, for the pleasure of revenge.
    In Act III, Anna plays the aggrieved wife to gain public empathy, force Mark's resignation, and usurp his seat in Congress.