Jessica Kahkoska

Jessica Kahkoska

Jessica Kahkoska is a writer, dramaturg/researcher, and performer. Other projects include AGENT 355 (with Preston Max Allen, upcoming Space Jam Residency with Roundabout Theatre/Bucks County Playhouse and New Play Workshop at Chautauqua Theater Company), UNTITLED CRYPTO-JUDAISM PROJECT (Denver Center for the Performing Arts, “Powered By Off-Center” Residency), NIA (with Sarah Wansley and Tommy Crawford, Drama...
Jessica Kahkoska is a writer, dramaturg/researcher, and performer. Other projects include AGENT 355 (with Preston Max Allen, upcoming Space Jam Residency with Roundabout Theatre/Bucks County Playhouse and New Play Workshop at Chautauqua Theater Company), UNTITLED CRYPTO-JUDAISM PROJECT (Denver Center for the Performing Arts, “Powered By Off-Center” Residency), NIA (with Sarah Wansley and Tommy Crawford, Drama League “First Stage” Residency), THE DEATH OF DESERT ROSE (with Elliah Heifetz), and LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT (with Michael Bello). Her writing has been developed and presented at Village Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Chautauqua Theater Company, the Drama League, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, Ars Nova ANT FEST, (le) Poisson Rouge, Musical Theatre Factory, and the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition. She is the recipient of the 2017 Marion International Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts, the 2019 American Antiquarian Society Fellowship for Creative and Performing Artists and Writers, a NET/TEN Exchange Grant, and creative residencies at the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University, Barn Arts Collective, Chautauqua Institution, UCROSS Foundation, and Taft-Nicholson Center for the Arts and Humanities. Dramaturgical work includes new play/musical development Off-Broadway and regionally, with the Cooper Union, Life Jacket Theatre Company, the Athena Project, Creede Repertory Theatre, as well as research for Bungalow Media and Entertainment and AMC/Sundance. She is currently Regional Vice President of the Rocky Mountain/Butte Region for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America (LMDA), and a proud member of Actors Equity Association (AEA) and the Dramatists Guild of America. Graduate of Northwestern University.

Her writing has been developed and presented at Village Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Local Theater Company, the Drama League, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, Ars Nova ANT FEST, (le) Poisson Rouge, Musical Theatre Factory, and the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition. She is the recipient of the Marion International Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts, the American Antiquarian Society Fellowship for Creative and Performing Artists and Writers, a NET/TEN Exchange Grant, and creative residencies at the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University, Barn Arts Collective, Chautauqua Institution, UCROSS Foundation, and Taft-Nicholson Center for the Arts and Humanities.

Dramaturgical work includes new play/musical development Off-Broadway and regionally, with the Cooper Union, Life Jacket Theatre Company, the Athena Project, Local Theater Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, as well as research for Bungalow Media and Entertainment and AMC/Sundance. She is currently Regional Vice President of the Rocky Mountain/Butte Region for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America (LMDA).

In New York, Jessica has performed at New York Theatre Barn, National Sawdust, (le) Poisson Rouge, Ars Nova, the Bushwick Starr, and the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), among others, and regionally at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (Colorado Henry Award Nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Musical), Theatre Aspen, American Stage Theatre Company, University at Buffalo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Lake Dillon Theatre Company and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.

She previously served as Director of Marketing for Creede Repertory Theatre, Chautauqua Theater Company, and Detroit Public Theatre. Graduate of Northwestern University.

Plays

  • In Her Bones
    When an unexpected blizzard forces Berkeley freshman Mia to wait out the storm at a rural highway gas station/ general store/ laundromat/ tow shop in Southern Colorado, she’s forced to confront a past that she is both fleeing and seeking out. As she shares family memories with store owner Moises to pass the time, another world creeps in-- one of shadows, forgotten prayers, and secrets hiding right in plain...
    When an unexpected blizzard forces Berkeley freshman Mia to wait out the storm at a rural highway gas station/ general store/ laundromat/ tow shop in Southern Colorado, she’s forced to confront a past that she is both fleeing and seeking out. As she shares family memories with store owner Moises to pass the time, another world creeps in-- one of shadows, forgotten prayers, and secrets hiding right in plain sight.

    In Her Bones explores the complicated legacy of crypto-Judaism in the Southwest, illuminating an unlikely, alpine tale of secrecy, faith, fear and how we pass on culture when written records are too dangerous to keep. Driven by a community-engaged, Colorado-based research process, this piece explores if our identities and rituals rise from earth and mountains where we spend our days, are inherited in the ancient stories of our blood, or are learned in the motions of mothers at sunset and overheard songs of grandparents.
  • Nia
    Nia reimagines Euripides’ flawed, iconic myth in a near future, rural Appalachian town governed by fundamental religious rules and a blue collar military tradition.

    When apocalyptic squalls ground the US Air Guard fleet in Aulis, North Carolina, an overwhelmed Colonel Agamemnon makes the unthinkable choice to offer his daughter to a local Pentecostal ritual for the return of calm skies. As his...
    Nia reimagines Euripides’ flawed, iconic myth in a near future, rural Appalachian town governed by fundamental religious rules and a blue collar military tradition.

    When apocalyptic squalls ground the US Air Guard fleet in Aulis, North Carolina, an overwhelmed Colonel Agamemnon makes the unthinkable choice to offer his daughter to a local Pentecostal ritual for the return of calm skies. As his wife, an influential congresswoman, passionately fights for her daughter’s life and choice in the matter, Nia shocks the town by volunteering for the snake-handling ceremony.

    Using the bones of the Euripides story, Nia delves into a dark, coastal world of military ferver, Pentecostal snake handling, kudzu vine, porch gossip, coastal squalls, and sweet tea. Featuring Achilles as a confused former golden boy, Menelaos as a grief-stricken, bitter veteran, and a Greek chorus of aging church women on the neighborhood porch, Nia grounds this epic Greek myth close to home, all with an ancient, mythic violence lurking beneath the surface.

    How fine is the line between loyalty, autonomy, and radicalization? Was there indeed a miracle at Aulis, or just hysteria and violence? What story will we choose to believe?
  • Wild Home: An American Odyssey
    Wild Home: An American Odyssey is a new theatre project created by Jessica Kahkoska and Notch Theatre Company that brings to the stage the hopes, struggles, and experiences of local communities in areas under serious threat from extractive industries.

    As our country faces the greatest threat to public lands in its history, Wild Home takes an odyssey across rural America by traveling to fifteen...
    Wild Home: An American Odyssey is a new theatre project created by Jessica Kahkoska and Notch Theatre Company that brings to the stage the hopes, struggles, and experiences of local communities in areas under serious threat from extractive industries.

    As our country faces the greatest threat to public lands in its history, Wild Home takes an odyssey across rural America by traveling to fifteen wilderness areas significantly pressured by oil and gas development. In each town, Notch Theatre Company and playwright Jessica Kahkoska partner with community at every level of the process, beginning with public story-sharing events. Topics include community members’ experiences on public lands, their concerns for their community’s wildlands and wilderness areas, the challenges they are facing, and their hopes and dreams for the future of their community and these spaces. Kahkoska then crafts plays based on shared testimony and community feedback, which are performed by community and professional actors in outdoor spaces, interspersed with facilitated dialogue about wildland preservation efforts.

    Wild Home: An American Odyssey aims to magnify stories about American wildlands under threat and the people who depend on them, specifically at this crucial moment in time—when the North Fork Valley faces more oil and gas development under the Trump administration, which threatens the area’s clean air and water, agricultural heritage and outdoor recreation opportunities. Wild Home performances also provide audience members a chance to be in conversation with one another, and deepen the conversation around protecting public lands and wild places both at a grassroots level and on a national scale.

    Wild Home is designed so the plays can travel from rural areas to urban city centers, deepening the conversation on both a grassroots level and a national, policymaker scale.