Jean Ciampi is a playwright, columnist, Dramatists Guild of America member, scuba diver, actress, baseball fan, director, Texan, humorist, Jesus lover and cilantro hater. She also plans to play roller derby and use her passport more. Her first play, “Potato Gumbo,” written while living in Saudi Arabia, won a Robert J. Pickering Award for Playwriting Excellence but did not win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. She still has sour grapes with “Hamilton” about that. Her comedy “The Bold and Bob” won the Michigan's 2022 ArtSpeaks Festival and was a Finalist for the 2022 New Comedy Festival at B Street Theatre in Sacramento. Other works are scheduled for production in 2023 in Toronto and Houston. She is part of the Kennedy Center’s Playwriting Intensive 2022 and uses her superpowers for conjugating verbs to write magazine features and corporate communications.
It’s August in Atlanta but Holly Anderson, with a deep passion for the holidays that could put Hallmark to shame, is convinced she can transform a movie set into a wooded, mountain Christmas masterpiece. With the blessed assistance of a scotch-drinking retired nun and a resourceful Bear, she has to navigate the crotchety host of her AirBnB, an unexpected case of salmonella, and a Scrooge of a boss. If she could only convince her new husband and find her phone! Joy is not where you find it, but where you create it – even unconventionally – in this high energy, off-season holiday comedy.
Touchingly honest and, sometimes, zany look at the challenges of aging, "Potato Gumbo" tells the poignant story of Gretchen and Thomas, her dream, ill-gotten handcuffs, a diagnosis, and adult children who must parent parents. Gretchen could create the ideal recipe if she could get to the New Orleans School of Cooking. Her whimsical and light-fingered ways draw Thomas into her schemes, but an impromptu road trip ends with return under police escort. Darkly serious issues begin bubbling up: Is Gretchen’s “whimsy” declining mental faculties or worse? How much can one old heart endure? When must elder care end and control begin?
“Bob-O”, a high school teacher with the spine of a jellyfish, returns to Normal, Illinois to find that nothing is normal after the sudden passing of his mother, Mariam O’Kineski. Forced to face the responsibilities of planning her funeral, he must navigate the Vietnam vet angling for Mariam’s corner apartment and the building manager angling for a wedding ring. The aging flower child across the hall is hell-bent to steamroll the funeral plans (which may or may not include the funeral director’s taco truck, the Rolly Guacamole), but when Mariam’s boss arrives, everything Bob-O thought he knew about his mother quickly unravels.