Philadelphia Theater Artists Don’t Have to Move to NYC

Local playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger makes the case.

Playwriting in Philadelphia has long been a man’s world, with Michael Hollinger (Opus) and Bruce Graham (The Philly Fan) among the more prominent male scribes. Both men are holdovers from the old days of the Philly arts scene, when most folks serious about careers in theater fled to our metropolitan neighbor to the north.

But the theater world here continues to grow, now boasting some 70 actively producing companies, and it’s made room for Jacqueline Goldfinger, a brainy 33-year-old relocated Southerner who has no intention of fleeing.

“People still say, ‘You should move to New York,’” says the Tallahassee-via-San Diego native, who came here in 2008 when her biologist husband landed a job at Temple. “But I love it here. New York is so oversaturated, and Philadelphia has created some great programs that support new work.”

Goldfinger has penned more than 11 full-length pieces, from a series of darkly comic Southern gothics, including her sinisterly witty Terrible Girls, to adaptations like Little Women, which UArts stages next month. Last season, Azuka Theatre Company’s production of Terrible Girls earned impressive reviews, but more importantly, the show was picked up by Playscripts, one of the major theatrical publishers, making producers around the country aware of her work. It’s a huge milestone in the career she’s chosen, and it’s how a small play starts off at a small theater, winds its way through regionals, and eventually, with a lot of luck, makes it to Broadway. Or at least off-Broadway.

This month, Goldfinger’s latest play, Slip/Shot, gets a world premiere from up-and-coming noisemaker Flashpoint Theatre. The heart-wrenching two-act centers on a seemingly accidental­ shooting and its grave consequences for all, and, in the playwright’s words, “how the ghosts and choices of our ancestors live on in us.” But the thematic summation on Flashpoint’s website makes it clear Goldfinger has figured Philadelphia out pretty well: “It’s about violence, fear, and our need to move forward.”

Slip/Shot opens April 11th at the Adrienne.