Cast size: 2M, 2W
Premiered at: Playwrights Horizons (2003)
Directed by: David Petrarca

Published by Playscripts, Inc.
P.O. Box 237060
New York, NY 10023
tel 1-866-NEW-PLAY (639-7529) ext. 82

The story

Bored of frat parties and second-run movies, a group of college friends challenge each other to have a 3-way with the Christian who lives next door ("it could be the new SURVIVOR"). In this undergraduate world of irony and internet porn, sex is commonplace but love is the thing that dares not speak its name.


"With the possible exception of politicians, college students are the most self-regarding creatures on earth. Wendy MacLeod nails that narcissism with a wry vengeance in this comic drama about two smart-ass seniors, stuck in the dorm on a Friday night writing term papers, who decide to alleviate their boredom by coaxing the virtuous coed next door into a friendly game of group sex. Cleverly written, shrewdly directed and smartly cast, the show is less brittle than it sounds, especially once the kids drop their ironic detachment and reveal the quivering anxiety behind their cooler-than-cool facade." --Variety

"Its swift reversals...keep the characters from becoming...cliches. It's the playwright's way with language that does the trick, her understanding of the versatile uses these sharp kids find for the idiomatic speech of their generation. Speaking in the intricate dialectics of "cool," they brandish their brainy, irony-laced wit as both weapon of war and shield of defense." --Variety

Author's note

Usually one writes a play and then titles it. JUVENILIA began with the title, with that one word scribbled in the writer's notebook. And then one happy day I discovered that I had written the play that went with it. It was like a sock finding its mate after spending months in separate bureaus.

Having done an informal poll, I can tell you that very few people know what "juvenilia" is, and nobody can agree on how to spell it. "Juvenilia" refers to early writings, early attempts at writing that a writer eventually outgrows and dismisses. In my play, the 20-something characters aren't writers, but are instead making early attempts to figure out how to live. What they lack in craft they make up for in passion.

The play grew out of a writing exercise that I gave my students. I asked them to describe a place they knew well and to then swap descriptions with another student. I asked them to explore what this place suggested about the people who lived there and to write a short play. Because we had an uneven number in class that day, I ended up with one of the descriptions--a description of a wealthy teenager's bedroom, a young man's bedroom. From that description I kept three things-a laptop, an exercise bike and an iguana-and began to write. From the laptop came the idea of internet porn, which seems to be a big part of my students' lives. When the college students in the play try to live out a porn fantasy by having a three-way with the girl down the hall, they bump up against their own insecurities, jealousies, and what do you know...morality.

My students were curious about how a forty-something writer had managed to capture the way they speak. Well for one thing, I'm a college professor. I'm surrounded by loquacious college students. And of course I was a college student, and despite our need to believe in generational uniqueness, things don't really change all that much from decade to decade. A college student bantering has always been like a peacock unfurling its tail; it's a show of wit and newfound knowledge, the primary purpose of which is to attract a mate.

The college students in JUVENILIA are trying so hard to be hard, to be hip, to be ironic, that they can't admit to traditional human emotions, lest they seem boring or sentimental. The lovers, Brodie and Meredith, actually want to stop their ongoing game of sexual chicken. It is on this one night, the night they set out to have a threesome, that they discover that language can be used to connect with each other as well as to impress each other. They take a step towards maturity, and away from juvenilia.


Production Photos
Photos: Joan Marcus
(click to enlarge)

Pictured, left to right: Luke MacFarlane, Ian Brennan, Aubrey Dollar, Erica Tazel