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The Playwrights' Playlist: Jeff Augustin

Playwrights’ Corner

Jeff Augustin
In 1999, I was 13 years old and had just started 8th grade. And life was about to get real deep. After all, I wrote my first love poem to Ricky Martin, Shakespeare in Love had just won the Oscar, and we were on the brink of Y2K. And then, Lauryn Hill’s debut album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" came out and made me realize everything up until that moment had been bullshit.  

Musically it was soaring and daring. Each song lived within a world of its own creation. The lyrics, laced with raw striking images that possessed a controlled emotional depth. And then the interludes. The interludes! Woven throughout the album, was this premise that the resplendent Ms. Hill had missed a day of high school in which the students discussed the nature of love with their teacher. In those interludes, I discovered the true depth of emotion I had been seeking. The totality of that expression, by a singular, undeniable voice, made me a writer.

Without that album I never would’ve learned the vulnerability I’d need to do spoken word. Spoken word would eventually lead me to theater. Theater brought more of the music I heard in my house, onto the stage. My earliest scenes would ‘lights up’ with someone humming, someone singing a jazz standard. The stage directions describing movement as a Billie Holiday song. Which, to be clear, I understand is absurdly self-indulgent.

But, those early practices with music and language would teach me to start every play, with a playlist. Something for the moments when I’m stuck or need to clear my head or dance my distraction away. My list is a combination of those early hummings and toe tappings, lifelong inspirations, and songs that just make me want to dance.

The Playwrights' Playlist

  1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (The Entire Album) – Lauryn Hill
  2. Lady Sings the Blues – Billie Holiday
  3. You Know – Laura Marling
  4. Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
  5. Between Me, You and Liberation – Common
  6. On & On – Erykah Badu
  7. Dancing On My Own – Robyn
  8. Retrospect for Life – Common feat Lauryn Hill
  9. Comin’ From Where I’m From – Anthony Hamilton
  10. Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
  11. Green & Gold – Lianne La Havas
  12. No More Rain (In This Cloud) – Angie Stone
  13. Feeling Good – Nina Simone
  14. Ready Or Not – The Fugees
  15. In a Sentimental Mood – John Coltrane & Duke Ellington