'Tatjana in Color'

July 07, 1999

'Tatjana in Color'By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The fine line between innocence and adult awareness is a scary and exciting one on which to balance.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Julia Jordan remembers that period of adolescence well and has used it in some of her plays, including "Tatjana in Color," which makes its world premiere at the 1999 Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown.

The play imagines the story of Tatjana von Mossig, a preteen model with whom 22-year-old artist Egon Schiele was accused of having a sexual relationship.


Jordan can relate to her 12-year-old lead female character because when she was on that delicate edge between childhood and adulthood, she fell in love with a cook at a diner in Minneapolis who was 10 years her senior.

Girls Tatjana's age often are "biologically doing exactly what they should be doing," but adults try to stall them, Jordan says.

"The whole play is about this girl who discovers that she has sexuality," Jordan said during a recent interview in the auditorium at Frank Center for the Creative Arts in Shepherdstown.

Getting the play produced has been difficult, she says, because many of the men who run theaters feared the play was too risque for their stages. In stage readings, however, she discovered that retirement-age audiences - whom theater managers feared the script would offend - loved it, she says.

"They were just very warm," Jordan says.

"It would be fun for men to see it," Jordan says, not to mention women in general.

Movies and television programs about boys' coming of age abound but little has been done about female adolescence, she says.

Jordan also is participating in the festival's Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Theater Project, which aims to use theater to lower adolescent pregnancy rates. She has been commissioned to write a play based on interviews she did in April with young parents in various parts of West Virginia, including Charleston, Wheeling and Welch.

"I just fell in love with those girls. Some of them look at you with those big eyes," Jordan says.

Public presentations of Jordan's work-in-progress will be given on the last three Fridays in July.

Producing Director Ed Herendeen hopes Jordan's play, which he expects won't be longer than an hour, will tour West Virginia high schools and churches. She says she also would like to write a full-length version.

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