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This Is a Play About Being Gay

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Teddy Nicholas
June 9, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright/Director/Producer.

What is your show about?
THIS IS A PLAY ABOUT BEING GAY is an experimental comedic three-act play that explores the ways gay males identity and function in our modern world.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
When I was going to elementary school in Queens, my mother and grandmother would take me to Wings Theater in the West Village (which is now The New Ohio Theater) to see various children's stories performed as plays. The one I remember distinctly was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I don't know if that's when I fell in love with theater or not, but I still think about it to this day, so it must have been pretty formative. I think what I was most drawn to was the mood of the piece and how drawn in to the world being formed right in front of me. From then on, I started writing creatively, but I was mostly writing comic books then poems then short stories, and it wasn't until high school when I started writing plays and screenplays. It wasn't until I entered Purchase College that I had really decided to make theater my career. I had gotten into Purchase and was asked to choose a major, and my friend Natalie asked me a series of questions about things I loved and why, and we both discovered that I loved directors and their various ways of approaching and experimenting with storytelling; so I declared myself a Drama Studies student.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I have been trying to find an easy way to answer this question for years and I still haven't quite figured it out. I co-wrote a play with Leah Nanako Winkler called Flying Snakes in 3D which premiered at Ars Nova's ANT Fest in 2011, then had a three week run at The Brick Theater in early 2012 and then a short and bittersweet final run at the 2012 Ice Factory Festival at The New Ohio Theater. We created it with our company Everywhere Theatre Group as a play that explored why we still make theater even though it is insanely difficult for us to do so since we had all come from lower-middle class families with no money and we were all struggling just to pay rent on time. We spliced our brutally honest upbringing stories together with a crazy science fiction narrative about flying mutant snakes. The mere fact that we were able to smash together these two contrasting worlds and develop it and live in it for as long as we did and then to have that work explode into a conversation about class warfare in theater that continued past the final performance at The New Ohio is part of the reason I do theater. It's a way I can be honest and engage honestly with the world around me in ways that would probably never work in film or TV or in real life, although that's not to say I wouldn't work in film or TV because I totally would.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I started writing the play two years ago as a way to explore my complicated relationship to the gay community which I can best describe as intense love-hate. Since then, I've gone through about seven different versions of the play, two readings, two developmental workshops and now a world premiere at The Fresh Fruit Festival in July and all the while, I'm constantly challenging myself to present a play that captures that intense love-hate feeling for every audience member no matter what they identify as. Overall, I hope that the play will allow audiences to see gay male relationships in different ways, and talk about their own feelings about us.

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Probably Marge Simpson. She's a very human character, a strong-principled woman who will do anything for her family, filled with love but also self-doubt, and very much a product of our society. She's also hilarious.

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
It is the most important thing to me. Theater should reflect the society we live in which includes the non-wealthy, non-white, non-hetero and it should speak to everyone and be accessible for everyone, not just those who can afford it, or live close by. It should be for everyone everywhere and be about them as well.