Jonathan Luskin

Jonathan Luskin

My play, Kill the Wabbit, recently premiered at the University of the Pacific. It explores identity and gender through motion capture animation and live performance. The play draws on my background in both art and science, using humor and technology to explore serious themes.

PlayGround commissioned Kill the Wabbit based on my Emerging Playwright Award winning short play. They have awarded me...
My play, Kill the Wabbit, recently premiered at the University of the Pacific. It explores identity and gender through motion capture animation and live performance. The play draws on my background in both art and science, using humor and technology to explore serious themes.

PlayGround commissioned Kill the Wabbit based on my Emerging Playwright Award winning short play. They have awarded me four artist residencies, two grants to adapt short plays into short films, and presented a many of my short plays in staged readings or full productions. My full length play Perfect was selected for the PlayGround Festival of New Works.

The Sloan Foundation commissioned my short play, Early Adopter, which was staged at the Magic Theatre. My plays have been read at the Laguna Playhouse, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, PianoFight, Shotz, and the Playwrights Lab.  I am a two-time alumnus of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program

As[ As a producer and director I co-founded both a theater company and a video production company.  At the the Angst Ensemble I produced and directed dark comedies for the stage. For Flying Moose Pictures I design visual stories for performing artists and corporations.] a producer and director I co-founded both the Angst Ensemble, a theater company to stage dark comedies, and Flying Moose Pictures, a video production company where I design visual stories for performing artists and corporations.

I worked for 17 years as an animator at Industrial Light & Magic and Colossal Pictures, and taught animation and visual effects at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University.

I graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in political science and a B.S. in electrical engineering. I studied traditional animation at California Institute of the Arts and Sheridan College International School of Animation.

Plays

  • Perfect
    Perfect is a dive into the brave new world of genetic engineering. Three interwoven stories, six actors, and thirteen characters explore the boundless desire for flawless children and the impossibility of objectively defining what that means. A cell biologist and her brilliant, wheelchair-using son discover their research is being used to indiscriminately clean disabilities from the human genome. An athlete,...
    Perfect is a dive into the brave new world of genetic engineering. Three interwoven stories, six actors, and thirteen characters explore the boundless desire for flawless children and the impossibility of objectively defining what that means. A cell biologist and her brilliant, wheelchair-using son discover their research is being used to indiscriminately clean disabilities from the human genome. An athlete, genetically engineered for speed and strength, is driven by his father to be a star, despite his disinterest in athletics. And a young couple, paralyzed by the uncertainty that comes with natural conception, turns to an app to design the "perfect" child.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.