TRW Plays Q & A with Jones Hope Wooten!

The trio of writers share their story with TRW Plays 

by Katie Stottlemire

Jones Hope Wooten, also known as “America’s Playwrights,” is a writing trio you definitely know and love. Their hilarious comedies have had thousands of productions across the world and in all fifty states. Their amazing and popular work doesn’t stop at the theatre—it begins there. As writers of TV shows, sitcoms, and feature films, Jones Hope Wooten has lots of knowledge and excitement to share.

This brilliant trio of writers has three plays, with more to come, available for immediate licensing at TRW: BUDDY BRO BUBBA DUDE: MEN IN TWISTED SHORTS, HONEY SUGAR LADY DOLL: WOMEN IN BODACIOUS SHORTS, and LICKETY SPLIT: WOMEN AND MEN IN OUTRAGEOUS SHORTS.

Here’s a slice of their journey as a writing team and their process of working together.

Jones Hope Wooten

Our goal as playwrights has always been to bring joy to others. What has taken us by surprise is how much joy others have brought to us.”

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: Let’s start with your origin story. How did the three of you meet, and when did you know you would become a writing trio?

JESSIE JONES: Jones Hope Wooten started in Texas... well, at least that’s where the Jones Hope part began. Nick’s first play was awarded a production in Austin and he was searching high and low for his leading lady. So—

NICHOLAS HOPE: I thought it wise to start at the top and got my script to Jessie, who just happened to be the leading actress in Austin. When she finally read it, she was all in and that’s how it all began.

JESSIE: We later actually became part of the staff of a thriving community theatre in Austin, eventually deciding to move to New York to pursue theatre, of course. After that it was onward to Hollywood to try our luck in television.

NICHOLAS: Which is where we crossed paths with Jamie. Evidently, all people in show biz with Southern roots are destined to find each other.

JAMIE WOOTEN: We all had our successes—Jessie was an actress, Nick was a network casting director, and I’d been writing and producing about a kablillion sitcoms.

JESSIE: After my Off-Broadway play was turned into a movie, I decided to write full time. Nick was up for it and together with Jamie we formed a trio and sold many, many television scripts to various networks and production companies. We had a blast.

NICHOLAS: After we hit a wall when no studio would let us write anything with a Southern flavor, we had a “Eureka!” moment. It was time to leave television and return to our roots – the theatre.

JAMIE: We had lots of Southern-flavored stories to tell and we believed theatre would embrace them. And we were right.

KS: It sounds like throughout your creative endeavors, fun has always been part of your journey. Is this true for your writing room as well? Walk us through what a typical writing session looks like for the three of you.

JESSIE: We work almost every day, all in the same room with a blinky computer, massive monitor, and a cat. We write every word together which can result in some rather colorful disagreements. But happily, we share compatible senses of humor. We outline the hell out of every scene of every play before the first line of dialogue is written. Our process is: idea, then story, followed by structure, development of characters and, finally, dialogue. And then comes all that funny stuff.

KS: You’ve got your writing down to a science, which is probably why you all have worked on so much! You each have an impressive list of individual writing credits that range across seemingly all genres, projects, and networks... You name it, and one of the three of you has probably written it! Which project has been the most fun or “out there” for each of you?

NICHOLAS: Yes, we’ve all worked very hard for decades and we’ve been very fortunate. For me, “most fun?” The answer is always our most recent play. Most “out there?” A movie we wrote together titled Meaner Than Hell: A Christmas Story – God and the Devil in Manhattan, fighting for someone’s eternal soul, you get the picture.

JAMIE: “Most fun?” All the seasons I wrote and produced “The Golden Girls.” Those women were so great to laugh with every day. Most “out there?” In Hollywood, the three of us were hired to write an American adaptation of a British mini-series about reluctant women criminals. It was called “Daylight Robbery.” It was one of our favorite projects.

JESSIE: “Most fun?” Writing the short play, “Stairway to Heaven,” which is included in both “Honey Sugar Lady Doll” and “Lickety Split.” Octogenarians Della and Ennis have to be two of the most hilarious characters we’ve ever created. Most “out there?” The surreal experience of seeing my play “Dearly Departed” go almost verbatim from stage to screen as the film “Kingdom Come” starring Whoopi Goldberg.

KS: Wow! It’s amazing to learn that you all wear many different hats, both as individuals and as a team. Earlier you spoke of returning to your roots in theatre after studios weren’t keen on scripts with a Southern flavor. Although you may have focused on film for a while, you three have continued to be true champions of community theatre, and I think many people who have participated in community theatre can have very formative experiences there. I know I certainly have! Did you have a particular impactful experience in community theatre where you felt like you had found a home?

JONES HOPE WOOTEN: Participation in our hometown community theatres had a great influence on each of us and gave us a love for theatre that brought us back later in life. In our playwriting careers as Jones Hope Wooten, we have met some of the most creative, talented people we have ever known who are devoted to keeping the arts alive in their communities. Not only have we made lifelong friendships with many people we’ve met in theatres, large and small, across the country and around the world, we are constantly told about the friendships and bonds forged by cast members who perform together in our comedies. Our goal as playwrights has always been to bring joy to others. What has taken us by surprise is how much joy others have brought to us.

KS: It is a truly special part of theatre, to experience that reciprocal joy. Now, for the final words of wisdom you’ll leave us with: what advice can you offer for young theatre artists today?

JESSIE: Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. More than likely, it will support you.

NICHOLAS: If you think you’ve got a good idea, somebody else just might agree with you.

JAMIE: Dream big! We did—and we’re having the time of our lives.

Read Jones Hope Wooten's BIO HERE