Jen is endlessly fascinated by human capacity.
From devised to experimental to scripted to indie to premiere to regional her life has been anchored by her work in the arts.
Jen is an Artist who has accomplished a lot in her career by paving her own path. She graduated from Portland State University and was honored with the Burnam award in recognition of her "outstanding service to the program and fellow students". During her time at PSU, she revamped the Theater Arts Student Organization by producing student shows in professional venues creating a student-to-professional pipeline. One month after graduating from PSU, she was cast in Speech and Debate, Gracie and the Atom, and Distracted in Artists Repertory Theatre's 2008-2009 season which began her relationship with Actors Equity.
Instead of moving to New York like everyone told her to, she stayed in Portland and worked as a company member of Our Shoes Are Red / The Performance Lab doing experimental works ranging from Richard Foreman to Will Eno to Howard Barker. In 2010 she founded her first theater company titled The Quick and Dirty Art Project and proceeded to produce and direct site specific shows including works by Brecht, Craig Wright, Philip Ridley, Matthew Zrebski, and Ethan Coen.
Jen spent 5 years working at Portland Playhouse as an actor starring in After the Revolution, Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, A Christmas Carol (Scrooge), and originating the "All Ghosts" track in A Christmas Carol for the first 3 years of production. She also contributed to the Playhouse's offerings by directing How We Got On, Phaedra's Love, Subject to Change (8 devised solo shows), as well as assistant directing The Huntsmen under Kathleen Dimmick and King Hedley II under Jade King Carroll.
During her time in Portland, she has performed with Third Rail Repertory in Middletown, Teatro Milagro in Labyrinth of Desire, Profile Theatre in Baltimore Waltz, Independence, and The Secretaries. She has performed with Boomarts, been the understudy for the live production of Alicia Jo Robbin's A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff, acted in the premiere of The Sweatermakers with Playwrights West, and performed at CoHo Theatre in This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing.
As a director, Jen's production of Tender Napalm with Dancing Brain Productions swept the Drammy Awards in Portland. Jen decided to self-produce the same script in Chicago with a different team and received high praise in the Chicago Reader for her production which took place on the fourth floor of an old sewing factory in Ravenswood, this time under the newly formed Quick + Dirty Productions.
After being called in for 10 years at Portland Center Stage and not getting cast, Jen was frustrated that her goal of performing on the main stage was seemingly attainable for everyone in her peer group but herself so she wrote a letter to Rose Riordan asking to not be called in again for future roles. Rose gracefully replied and Jen ended up assistant directing 4 shows under Rose for her 2018-2019 season both at Portland Center Stage (A Life, Buyer and Cellar, Tiny Beautiful Things) and Denver Center Theater (Sweat @ DCPA). When one cast member had to call in an understudy in A Life by Adam Bock, Jen stepped in. Although it wasn't a main stage and although it was only 2 performances, it was satisfying for the moment. She is proud of the 5 years she performed in the JAW festival at Portland Center Stage which was founded and run by Rose Riordan until 2019. At JAW, she was fortunate to collaborate with local and nationally known playwrights - smoking a cigarette and talking with one of her heros at the time, Will Eno, and getting to work with achievers like Matt Smart and Jamie Casteñada.
She continues to audition and submit to PCS in hopes of being cast on the main stage. It's probably just Sehnsucht.
On a fourth grade feild trip, Jen performed a sketch in front of her school group and fell in love with comedy. She has both performed and written in sketch shows: The Big Combo, Shirts and Skins and made appearances in the variety-show version of Livewire Radio.
In 2019, Jen founded her second company titled The Theatre Company as a way to challenge her own critiques of the nonprofit theater model and to create an artistic home that allowed for the expansion of her skill set. The Theatre Company partners with local businesses to create crafted stories in their spaces by embracing the technical, architectural and visual elements inherent to each venue, always in service of the story. It is imperative for Jen to find an alchemy between what an existing space has to offer and what a story needs. Low production cost, highly curated artistic value, and best of all: audiences falling in love with businesses they may have never discovered through the communal act of live theatre.
The Theatre Company's inaugural production never opened. During tech week, in March of 2020, national lockdown measures were issued. Jen pivoted quickly to commissioning playwrights to write for film. She has since produced and released 4 of those commissions from 2021 - 2023: The Broken Heart Spread by Claire Willett, Capax Infiniti by DeLanna Studi (which Jen also directed), The Cut-Up by Yussef El Guindi, and Improvements by Emily Gregory. These films are all proudly created under SAG agreements and are part of a commissioning series Jen launched called The Playwright Initiative: Solo Works which asks playwrights to create a script under 40 minutes with one actor and one location.
Through The Theatre Company, Jen has produced The Moors and Vinegar Tom as limited release Podcasts after being given permission from Jen Silverman and Caryl Churchill. She has also produced a series of shorts called The Pickle Factory Series which was a one week event where the first 12 people who signed up were given space to devise their own short film, crewed up and produced by The Theatre Company at The Pickle Factory in North Portland. Jen then created an event bringing together Fused Creative to host a makers market, Untapped Trivia to host a game of Trivia and the friends and family of the participants to watch their shorts on the big screen at The Village Ballroom in 2022.
TTC returned to live productions in 2022. Jen has produced and performed in The Thin Place and directed the west coast premiere of California by Trish Harnetiaux. Both productions had remounts and all shows sold out before opening.
Jen has been seen on NBC's Grimm, TNT's The Librarians and Discovery's The Satchel. She has appeared in films Go Missing, Moral's Inc, Road to Bob and Kate. She has directed at Luna stage in New Jersey, been seen developing an ongoing docu-devised piece titled Ground Stability about America's relationship to women's health and gender since 2016, studied intensive Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and performed a solo show in Los Angeles under the guidance of Lauren Weedman.
While continuing her work in Portland with TTC as an artistic home within which to explore and create, she is always hungry to work with like-minded creatives outside her bubble who value rigor, thought, consideration, honor writers, and harbor an intrinsic wonder about the world. And so, she compulsively takes off to various places to study, work and be inspired. Reach out.