In First Concert, authors discuss their first live music experience and the impact it might have had on their work overall. As we've talked to dozens of novelists, playwrights, and poets, we've discovered amazing stories of unhinged live performances or forgotten B-sides that have inspired their work and kept them writing.
Young Jean Lee is a playwright and director who has been called "the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation" by the New York Times and "one of the best experimental playwrights in America" by Time Out New York.
What was the first concert you ever attended? How old were you?
Bon Jovi. I was twelve.
What do you remember about the performance?
For some reason, I remember Jon Bon Jovi flying through the air over the audience saying that he was Superman. Not sure if this actually happened or not, but I have a vivid memory of it.
How do you think that experience affected you as an artist?
I had a pretty big unrequited crush on Jon Bon Jovi, which might explain why I’m so tortured. But actually, as a director I do have a kind of obsession with rock stars and the idea of rock stars. I’m constantly telling my performers to think of themselves as rock stars, and I use the words “rock star” as a verb. For example, when my actors have to do a really rough stumble-through of something and have no idea what they’re doing, I tell them to “rock star their way through it."
(Young Jean Lee has written and directed nine shows in New York with Young Jean Lee's Theater Company and toured her work to over thirty cities around the world. Her plays have been published by Theatre Communications Group (Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Other Plays, The Shipment and Lear) and by Samuel French (Three Plays by Young Jean Lee). She is currently under commission from Plan B/Paramount Pictures, Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is a member of New Dramatists and 13P and has an MFA from Mac Wellman's playwriting program at Brooklyn College. She has received grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Creative Capital, NYFA, NEA, NYSCA, the Jerome Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Rockefeller MAP Foundation. She is also the recipient of two OBIE awards, the Festival Prize of the Zuercher Theater Spektakel, a 2010 Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award.)