“Sometimes in life you have to walk the bridge.” This enigmatic idea is at the center of the play “Jump,” by playwright and poet Charly Evon Simpson. City Lights’ host Lois Reitzes spoke with Simpson and with director Lydia Fort about the play.
The story follows Fay, a woman in her twenties who recently lost her mother to cancer. She goes to a bridge to find solace and vape through her feelings. The play allows you to be inside Fay’s head during her shifting states of consciousness. This play is both whimsical, gutsy and raw in how it approaches themes of anxiety, depression and suicide.
Simpson was inspired to write the play from The New Yorker article about “Jumpers.” The article looked at the stories of those who attempted to [or did] end their life by leaping off the Golden Gate Bridge. After months of keeping the article open on her laptop, she decided to put those words into a play.
“It [the article] stuck with me. There was something about the sense of there being this place that these people go to in order to attempt suicide or succeed in suicide. The article talked with survivors and how so many of them who had jumped immediately regretted it,” said Simpson.
It was also important to Simpson to show the story from a person of color’s perspective because she is African-American.
“It felt really important to me to put a play up and allow for people like myself and my family to see themselves represented on stage and begin that discussion on grief,” Simpson said.
The script is very poetic and told in a non-linear format. “That’s what I try to do, is to look for [the poetry] in three-dimensional spaces that encompass people and sound and light. That’s where I’m looking for poetry to happen,” said Fort on her approach to directing a non-linear, dream-like play.