Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement – John J King

As a playwright and director, one thread runs through all of my projects: using comedy to slice into difficult subjects. Compelling strangers to laugh, together, is a powerful way to break down barriers, and lead audiences to wrestle with serious questions. Such laughter is my specialty.

I use comedy to complicate our assumptions, to unfold messy topics. In my adapted libretto of a Gothic Opera DER VAMPYR, I used humor and Twilight references to skewer rape culture. In the musical THE RISE & FALL OF OEDIPUS T REX & THE GOAT SONG OF THEBES, black comedy, satire, camp and Glam Rock send up the systemic ills that arise when crimes are committed by men in power, but responsibility is refused. My latest commission, MUSEUM PIECE dissects systemic bigotry and white supremacy in arts institutions, with farce.

In addition to comedy, I utilize collaboration to explore bold styles of theater and engage audiences in unique ways. As artist-in-residence at Beaver Country Day School, I led students through devising processes to channel their questions, fears, and joys into performative works. We created MIXTAPE, a collage of styles including silent film, original songs, and dance, exploring the anguish and fears of high school. In SUBMERGED, we created an immersive murder mystery, leading the audience on trails through the campus to gather information and determine – as a collective – the identity of the killer.

I bring this same sense of joyous exploration and deep collaboration to every project.
In our present moment, I am particularly drawn to theatre that does not expect the audience to passively observe, but to participate and even alter the direction of the drama.

For years I have considered myself a playwright. But our world increasingly calls for, and requires, collaboration. Circles, not pyramids. Teams, not leaders. I have found great joy in working with students to create work that drives them, but such teamwork also expands my own knowledge, interests, skills, and abilities. With each project, I continue to deepen this ability to collaborate and shape the stories we tell in a communal and collective way.

Mission: Creating and Spreading Delight.