“If Martyna Majok’s talent weren’t so impressive and her subject so imperative, it would be easy to leave her in peace with her Pulitzer. But the American theatre needs her sensibility right now.”
Martyna Majok – whose Sanctuary City is currently playing at Arena Stage – is a playwright you’ll want to say you saw before she became a household name.
The Polish-born American emigrated to the United States at 5 years old and grew up in New Jersey. She discovered her love of theater when she was 17, when she saw John Stamos in Sam Mendes’s revival of Cabaret.
“I had no idea what the hell Cabaret was or really what the theater was. But I knew Full House. Legit, up until that point, I thought plays were movies people just couldn’t afford to make so they did it in one room. Or something Shakespeare did a long time ago. So I took my $45 and I went and saw this beautiful, dark, funny, generous story in Studio 54 about something completely devastating. With music! Something happened in my soul that night.” – An interview with Martyna Majok
From there, Majok discovered her passion for telling stories through playwriting, which she studied at the Yale School of Drama and the Juilliard School.
Currently, Majok has published three plays: Cost of Living, Sanctuary City, and Ironbound. Each play centers “the other” – the characters you would expect to play a supporting role – from those living with disabilities to teenage DREAMers looking for a semblance of normalcy.
On her plays’ themes, Majok says, “My theatre plays are usually about… the immigrants, workers and single mothers… In most theatrical stories, such figures are considered secondary; in my plays, they occupy a central position. I have always had a feeling of being ‘in the middle’. Technically speaking, I am an immigrant, even though I came here as a child and even though it had not been my own decision but one made by my mother.” – Vogue Poland
Majok is currently working on a musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby with Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) and Thomas Bartlett. Her play Queens has been put in development as a drama series at HBO. And her Pulitzer-winning play Cost of Living just made its Broadway debut at Manhattan Theatre Club.