Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Playwright Interview #7 – Jenni Miller January 5, 2011

NAME: Jenni Miller

PROJECT: Hello, My Name Is

Hello, My Name Is is presented by PDX Playwrights and plays at 7 pm on Sunday, January 30 at Hipbone Studio (1847 E. Burnside).  Tickets are Pay-What-You-Will at the door. More info here.



Jenni Miller is a local actress, playwright, storyteller, community advocate.  She’s performed locally with Sowelu Theater Company, Curious Comedy, Artists Rep, Lakewood, Brainwaves, Hart, and the Magdeline Theater Company.  She’s a current member of Playback Theater Company and PDX Playwrights.


1. A Writer I Admire Is . . . Gertrude Stein

2. My Writing Style Can Be Described As . . . Ionesco Meets Salinger

3. The Portland Theatre Company I’d Most Love To See This Show Produced By Is . . . Defunkt

4. The Celebrity I Would Most Like To See Star In This Play On Broadway Is . . . ???

5. A Portland Theatre Artist I Admire Is . . . Chris Harder

6. I Am Terrified Of . . . Having my picture taken

7. I Am Obsessed With . . . Finding a job

8. The Book Currently On My Nightstand Is . . . The Working Poor by David Shipler

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Play Are . . . Sad, Wild, Scary Real

10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . . Some unknown actress that makes an awe-inspiring, award-winning performance, catching everyone’s eye, then slowly fades back into obscurity.  You know, that girl that was in that show about you know and there was the and that thing and she wore a blue dress and was in a Sprint commercial once . . .


1. Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival play.

It’s a story about a Man and a Woman.  It’s about the heartbreaking circumstances that change her life.  It’s about how she cannot amend her circumstances and her struggle to regain her innocence in an institutionalized world. It’s about time, the reality of time, time without hope, without revolt.  It’s about forgetfulness and passing into nothingness.  It’s about loss, it’s about rape and it’s a wild ride . . .

“All rape is an exercise in power, but some rapists have an edge that is more than physical.  They operate within an institutionalized setting that works to their advantage and in which a victim has little chance to redress her grievance.” —Against Our Will: Men, Women & Rape by Susan Brownmiller

2. How did this story come about?  What inspired it?

I started writing this story several years ago in a playwriting class taught at PSU by Karen Magaldi (one of my favorite local dramaturgs and directors).  I had 10-15 pages and put it to rest for several years, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the main character and what her journey was supposed to be.  Then I read Susan Brownmiller’s book Against Our Will and realized what the play was about.  Brownmiller’s book both intrigued and angered me but most of all what I heard between the lines was this woman’s story.  This play has had many lives and I’m hoping to find a place for it to either rest or be sent off . . . I’m extremely curious to hear what people think.

3. Talk about your writing process.  (How do you write?  When do you write?  What gets you writing?)

Deadlines get me writing.  I write whenever the inspiration hits and suffer through the moments when it doesn’t.  I find that the most interesting stuff comes when I’m running or driving in my car far away from my computer, then a blank mind as soon as I put finger tips to the keyboard.  I wonder sometimes what it’s all worth but can’t stop thinking about storylines in my head.  I have a difficult time leaving these characters be, and an even more difficult time reacquainting myself with them.   I feel they deserve some type of redemption or the satisfaction of moving on but I know they have to live in the pages of the play and because of this I struggle with endings.  I write Wednesday nights with Portland Women Writers and find the prompts and feedback so beneficial.  I write early mornings and late evenings and like to bake when I write.

4. What is the most exciting/inspiring piece of theatre you’ve seen in Portland?

Years ago I saw Defunkt’s production of the Charles Mee play The Investigation of the Murder in El Salvador. Still probably one of the best pieces of theater I’ve ever seen – the timing and delivery was amazing.  Also, Artists Rep’s How I Learned to Drive – Bruce Burkhartsmeier’s performance . . . WOW!

5. What are you up to these days when you’re not writing?

I’m trying to find a job.  I’m a mom.  I perform with the Portland Playwright Group.


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