Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

First Concerts: Young Jean Lee

First Concerts: Young Jean Lee

Photograph by Blaine Davis

In First Concerts, authors discuss their first live music experience and the impact it might have had on their work overall. As we’ve talked to dozens of novelists, playwrights, and poets, we’ve discovered amazing stories of unhinged live performances or forgotten B-sides that have inspired their work and kept them writing.

Young Jean Lee is a playwright and director who has been called “the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation” by the New York Times and “one of the best experimental playwrights in America” by Time Out New York.

Riffraf: What was the first concert you ever attended? How old were you?

Young Jean Lee: Bon Jovi. I was twelve.

Riffraf: What do you remember about the performance?

Young Jean Lee: For some reason, I remember Jon Bon Jovi flying through the air over the audience saying that he was Superman. Not sure if this actually happened or not, but I have a vivid memory of it.

Riffraf: How do you think that experience affected you as an artist?

Young Jean Lee: I had a pretty big unrequited crush on Jon Bon Jovi, which might explain why I’m so tortured. But actually, as a director I do have a kind of obsession with rock stars and the idea of rock stars. I’m constantly telling my performers to think of themselves as rock stars, and I use the words “rock star” as a verb. For example, when my actors have to do a really rough stumble-through of something and have no idea what they’re doing, I tell them to “rock star their way through it.”