Interview: Nathan Yungerberg

In anticipation of JAGFest 2.0, we're delighted to publish interviews with some of the participating playwrights.

This week's interview is with Nathan Yungerberg, whose play, Esai's Table, will be presented on Friday, February 9, at 7:30 pm at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, Vermont. For more information about the play and to purchase tickets, please visit the JAGFest website.


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Literary North: What led you to becoming a playwright?

Nathan Yungerberg: After many years of working as a photographer, I felt a desire to take my creativity to another level. I wanted to be able to sit in a room with my creative visions and watch them speak, move and interact rather than just seeing them expressed in a still photograph.

LN: What inspired you to write this play?

NY: The killing of Michael Brown was the impetus for this play. I was tired of seeing the menacing images the media would display of young Black men who had been shot and killed by the police. The fact that those images were the sole representation of the life of someone's child, brother, friend, and son was an insult to the entirety of their existence.  I wanted to create a space where the intricate layers, talents, and humanity of young Black men could be expressed and appreciated.

LN: Why did you want to bring this play to JAGFest?

NY: I met Jarvis last summer through a mutual connection, and I immediately sensed that we had shared values on many levels. I was inspired and impressed by what he was doing in VT, and as a Black writer the mission of JAG Productions is congruent with my aesthetic and artistic voice. 

LN: What do you want the audience to take away from seeing your play?

NY: I want their hearts to be filled with the beauty and humanity of the three young Black men in my story.


Nathan Yungerberg is a Brooklyn-based playwright. His plays include Esai’s Table, The Son of Dawn, Pousada Azul, Orchids and Polka Dots, Golden Gate, Brush Strokes and Isosceles. Nathan’s work has been developed or featured  by The Cherry Lane Theatre (2017 Mentor Project with Stephen Adly Guirgis), The Playwrights’ Center,  Crowded Fire Theater, The Brooklyn Museum, The Nuyorican Poets Café , The Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Brava Theater, The Lark, The Fire This Time Festival, 48 Hours in Harlem, The National Black Theatre, The Hansberry Project, The National Black Theatre Festival, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Blackboard Reading Series, T. Schreiber Studio, The Dramatist Guild,  Flashpoint Theater, The August Wilson Red Door Project, New Venture Theater, The Brooklyn Generator, Multistages theater and BBC Radio Afternoon Drama. Nathan is one of seven black playwrights commissioned by The New Black Fest for HANDS UP: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments. Awards and honors: The 2016 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (Semifinalist), Ken Davenport 10-Minute Play Festival (Winner), 11th Annual InspiraTO Festival (Finalist), and the Blue Ink Playwriting Award (Semifinalist).