Jennifer Childs on paying her phone bill. And buying a house. | Theatre Philadelphia
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Jennifer Childs on paying her phone bill. And buying a house.

Feb 9, 2017

As we get ready to celebrate over two decades of the Haas Award at our Haas Happy Hour on February 27, we’re sharing reflections from past recipients in this series.

Jennifer Childs received the Emerging Artist award in 1999, six and a half years into her time living and working professionally in Philadelphia. .

“I was mostly an actor when I won the Haas award - I did some teaching, some voiceovers, some directing, I had just started 1812 Productions but I was mostly a freelance actor.  Now, 1812 is in its 20th season and I serve as the Producing Artistic Director.  I still act and direct but the center of my artistic life is making original work for 1812.”

From the night of the Barrymore Awards, Jen says:  “I remember the dress I was wearing and telling my husband that we could finally pay the phone bill.” Beyond that evening, “After I won the Haas Award, Scott [Greer, my husband and 2002 Haas Recipient,] and I started looking for houses.  I remember I had just received the check for $10,000 in the mail when we were meeting with our real estate person.  They asked if we had any money to put towards a downpayment - I held up the Haas check and said, ‘I have this.’  I think we knew we wanted to stay in Philadelphia but all of a sudden there were all these new possibilities for us.  We could not only stay here but LIVE here, have a house here, have a life here and have a family here.”

Jen on the Philadelphia theatre scene:   “I think there is a real dedication in Philadelphia not only to theater companies but to theater artists.  Individual artists are valued here - the Haas award is just one example of that, there is no other award like it in the country.  Similarly there are individual artist grants available here that enable further study or creation of new work, residency and performance opportunities outside of the traditional theater company model.  It makes for a unique and exciting artistic landscape.”

We asked Jen who has supported her as an artist:  “Oh my goodness, so many people.  My husband, my peers, my friends, my family, the artists I've worked with in Philly, my staff at 1812, the 1812 board, philanthropists and funders in Philly, Philadelphia audiences!”

As for current emerging artists inspiring Jen, she says: “Alex Bechtel amazes me.  Justin Jain fills my heart with inexpressible joy.  Becky Wright is so damned smart it makes me jealous.  Rachel Camp is this incredible explosion of talent and love.  And there are so many many more I cannot list them all...Daniel Fredrick, Tabitha Allen, Sean Close, Christina May, Nia Benjamin, Jill Keys…”

Join Theatre Philadelphia in celebration of the artists and supporters that comprise our community at the Haas Happy Hour on February 27.

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