We are thrilled to promote this award-winning play which opens January 15th at 12th Avenue Arts.
Previews begin January 13th at 7:30 pm.
Click here for more info
We begin with a series of interviews with the actors.
A: The idea that love is an addiction. It is something that I have been thinking a lot about in my own life and have been exploring in my own solo show, The Oxy Complex, which I began writing during my time at UW. All of the characters in this play are addicts and they choose their cocktail of drugs to help numb or ease the pain of living. But love is also a chemical addiction. It is just endorphins and oxytocin being released into your body, which creates bonds with people that sometimes you have no business being in a relationship with. The scary part to me is that, to some extent, I have a choice in doing coke or taking a shot of tequila… but I can't stop my body from producing these chemicals and releasing them into my body. I'm an unwilling participant sometimes and that's terrifying. How do you let go of people in your life when you have to detox from them first?
Q: There is so much said lately in Seattle and nationally about stereotype roles for people of color. How do you feel about the way Latinos are portrayed in this play?
A: I think some people may look at this play on the surface and think that Latinos being drug addicts on stage is an old stereotype that we don't need to perpetuate but, in my opinion, I don't find that to be true. This is a testament to Stephen's writing. I define stereotypes as being one-dimensional and these characters are anything but that. They are complex, contradictory, striving to become better versions of themselves with the cards they've been dealt and the only way they know how to do it. Their tools are sometimes blunt and fucked up-- but that's real life. I know people in these circumstances. I grew up with some of them. They deserve to have their stories told.
Q: Stephen Adly Guirgis (Egyptian/Irish) has written other Latino characters such as Mrs. Reyes and Demaris in In Arabia We'd All Be Kings. Do you think writers of color have an insight into writing about other ethnic communities besides their own?
A: This question is really hard for me to answer as a generalization because I don't think that it is possible to attribute the rights of who gets to tell what story based solely the label of "being a writer of color"-- to me that label has its own problems which I don't think I'm qualified to speak about-- but Branden Jacobs-Jenkins touches upon this issue in the beginning of his play, An Octoroon.
I can only answer this question based on the individual artist and their work. How insightful are they? How observant? How do they pick up and use the nuances of language in different communities? I discovered Stephen's work at EST (a theater in NY) almost 8 years ago. It was a one-act called "Dominica: The Fat, Ugly ‘Ho." If I can try to describe it now, it was like Cyrano de Bergerac in the hood. I was astounded. I had never heard people on a stage speak that way. I didn't think they were allowed. Spanglish on the stage-- that was like wrong, right? But then, it was like seeing my cousins up there arguing over how to talk to a girl and I felt like I was home. Before then, I might have said no. That it was impossible for a writer who is not Latino to speak about the Latino experience. I was shocked when I found out Stephen was Egyptian/Irish. And I learned a big lesson that day. Stephen can see the humanity in a class that most dismiss and use their language to make their experience universal. To cut through the prejudice and the judgment. Chad Beckim is a white playwright and he has the same insight and care that Stephen has in the characters of color that he writes, such as his play, After, whose main character is Latino. I can't attribute that type of nuanced storytelling to being an "artist of color"-- that is just being an artist.
Q: As an actor, how do you feel about the roles available to you in Seattle and nationally?
A: Oh... we can talk about this topic forever. All I will say is this: Are things getting better? Sure. Can we do more? Absolutely.
Q: At this moment there are 3 Latino plays/plays with roles for Latinos in production in Seattle: Mariela In The Desert (Karen Zacarías) by Latino Theatre Projects, In Arabia We'd All Be Kings (Guirgis) by Theatre Schmeater, and MF with a Hat. Also in May is eSe Teatro's next mainstage production (official announcement soon to come), with roles for 6 women. Do you think things are changing in Seattle for Latino actors?
A: I can't speak about the climate for Latino actors in the Seattle community. My time in Seattle was mostly spent in the halls of Hutchinson Hall and I now reside in LA.
Q: Do your future plans include staying in Seattle? Why or why not?
A: I may return to Seattle. In some distant future. I would definitely return to work on a project. There is a very vibrant theater community and the city feels supportive to me. People come out to see the shows and they are enthusiastic about getting lost in the world of the story. But maybe next time, I would like to come in the Spring or the Summer :)