Voices of BTM XIX: Jeni Mahoney


Tell us a little bit about your play.

Well, the title of the play is Diversity and Inclusion: (A Report for Mrs. Abernathy’s 5th Grade Class), which is actually a pretty accurate description of the play—or at least of what the characters (the students presenting the report) hope the play will be. The question is: can they, despite their differences, pull it off?

What made you want to tell this story?

I suppose you could say it’s a not-in-the-least veiled looked at the tenor of the current national dialogue. What I was initially interested in was not so much the content of that dialogue, or the relative “truthiness” of the positions being presented; what I was really fascinated with was the shape of it. How do we listen? What are we listening for? How to we turn the conversation? How do we dismiss, embolden, ignore, selectively hear, accuse, twist, give up, give away?

Of course, you can’t take on subjects like Diversity and Inclusion without becoming invested in the content. Within the context of this report the students find themselves struggling with their own ability to define and come to terms with these concepts. What do these terms mean? How do they apply to me? Why do they matter? To whom do they matter, and who gets to decide? Who speaks? Why? Do you really have to include everyone, even people who are acting like stupid buttheads? These are all questions I’m interested in.

What’s next for you as a playwright?

The next big event for me is Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in Idaho in June. I’m there as Artistic Director not as a playwright but, I count it as a new play event that I’m excited about. After that my goal is to find some time to just write! I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had a very busy year, but it hasn’t left me nearly enough time to just sit in my work-cave and write. I’m really hungry for that right now.

What are you most looking forward to on Boston Theater Marathon day?

The plays! I try my best to be there for the whole thing: start to finish. It’s my Mother’s Day gift to myself. The range of plays is amazing, I’m always wonderfully surprised and entertained. I laugh, I cry, I think. Really, it’s everything great theater should be and, perhaps best of all, I get to be part of an audience that is eagerly and enthusiastically leaning forward, and always ready to go on the next great adventure. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of new plays and I plan on leaving the table full-to-bursting!


Don’t miss Diversity and Inclusion: (A Report for Mrs. Abernathy’s 5th Grade Class)—and 49 other amazing ten-minute plays—in Boston Theater Marathon XIX on May 14! Tickets