Improv Master Jennifer Jasper Turns to Solo Storytelling
Jennifer Jasper first made herself known on the Seattle theater scene in the early '90s, when she and her cohorts in Kings' Elephant Theater dazzled audiences with their long-form improv pieces, which eschewed punch lines and sketches for extended, multilayered riffs on a theme (adultery, film noir); the end result felt like a play constructed by performance artists. In the later '90s, Jasper branched out with Pulp Vixens, a comedy duo known for campy adaptations of vintage lesbian pulp fiction, and carried on with one of her key Kings' Elephant creations: Maggie, the Scotch-swilling "horny housewife" character Jasper still revs up for hosting/MCing gigs.
But two years ago, Jasper tried something she'd never done before: appearing onstage as herself to tell stories about her own life. The result was the autobiographical work Middle, featured in the 2010 Seattle Solo Performance Festival at Theater Off Jackson. This weekend, Jasper returns to the TOJ stage with a new autobiographical solo work, this one evening-length and presented under the title I Can Hear You... But I'm Not Listening. Like Middle, the new show concerns itself with Jasper's big, weird, hilarious family, with stories ranging from sweet to sad to filthy. "It's not scripted, but it's structured," says Jasper, who's working on the show with director Stephen Hando. "I imagine the two nights will be pretty different. I'm a born improviser. I won't do certain things full tilt until I'm before an audience. And I never tell a story the same way twice."