Name: Fengar Gael
Tell us about you.
I don’t sleep well; I keep dreaming that I’m a resident alien in a plutocracy led by a miserly, mean souled, tinpot dictator who has tricked us into allowing the ethics of business to infest every aspect of life. My mother said I was born wanting to re-stage the world, but since I’ve failed miserably, I drink too much, eat too much, read too much appalling news, and because I’m a playwright, I’m also subject to bipolar-manic-depression with delusions of grandeur and multiple personality disorder. I can trace the origin of these afflictions to a childhood of constant traveling in and out of the country which may explain why I write plays that take me to unfamiliar worlds and feature characters of diverse races and ethnicities from the past and future. For the past ten years New York has become my heart’s home, a great melting pot city where going to the theatre is a way of life. I have new friends and am part of the League of Professional Theatre Women whose members have enriched my hermit’s life beyond imagining.
Tell us about your current project?
The play, Sycorax: Cyber Queen of Qamara, is a comic drama originally intended as a prequel to The Tempest. Shakespeare only mentioned that Sycorax was a witch from Algiers who was exiled to an island where she gave birth to a deformed boy named Caliban. In my play, Sycorax has waited 500 years to tell her side of the story to the widest possible audience: the World Wide Web of the Internet. She does so through her avatars, but I won’t give away the plot except to say that Sycorax feels moral outrage at the continuing gender imbalance of power in a world controlled by men who value their arsenals more than their artists. I’m thrilled that the fearless Ego Actus Theatre Company has taken on the challenge of bringing the play to vivid life by their inspired Artistic Director, Joan Kane, whose vision of the play happily resembles my own. We are blessed with a fantastic cast of actors and theater artists contributing to this production: the scenery, the costumes, the lights and projections are going to be beyond anything I had dared to imagine.
Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?
The play is being performed at HERE which has already garnered a following of brave souls who are passionate about innovative (even subversive) theatre. Both HERE and the Ego Actus Theatre Company believe in theatre as a fusion of art forms: with dialog that aspires to poetry, with music, dance and artful costumes, scenery and multi-media projections.
What’s next for you?
The Detroit Repertory Theatre is producing my play, The House on Poe Street, in January of 2019. Another play, Smile Like a Knife, is a current finalist at two theatres sponsoring contests, and I’m currently writing Passing Parades that’s turning into a louche tale of the supernatural about an idealistic woman who undergoes a radical transformation after a bomb shatters the lives of marchers gathered to celebrate the centennial of women’s suffrage. The play leaps backwards to the 1850s when the suffrage and abolitionists movements were aligned, but faced radical opposition. The play will be given a concert reading at the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Julia’s Reading Room series at the Jefferson Market Library on December 11th.
What is the name of the last show you saw?
The Winning Side by James Wallert, a post-modern collage of a play produced by the Epic Theatre about Wernher von Braun, a former Nazi rocket engineer who interacts with his French lover and the Americans who steal him away to help claim the moon and conquer the world.
Any advice for your peers?
Drink wine, read poetry, and try not to commodify yourselves in a world where everything seems quantifiable — even plays are given numerical scores. If playwriting is the literary form that best expresses your passions, then don’t wait for commissions or guaranteed productions. To quote Emily Dickinson, “Be a fire that lights itself.” Also in this age of constant surveillance and identity politics, it’s best to resist definition. If the great evolutionary triumph of our species is the imagination and capacity to reason, then to define ourselves in terms of race, age, gender or ethnicity is to be forever stranded on a smaller planet. When we allow anyone to police our imaginations, to condemn us to writing plays only about people like ourselves, then we’re doomed. The best thing about our capacity for abstract thinking is that it allows us to imagine what it’s like to be someone else (saint or sinner), so we might become more empathetic. I should add that I truly believe there’s a great future for theatre. Perhaps it’s naive, but I think people will attend plays more than ever before, if only to heal their damaged attention spans, and to focus on the perpetual wide screen of the stage where no bullying cameras are telling them precisely where to look, no soundtracks assaulting their ears, where they’re no longer isolated but in the company of other human beings, and where their presence actually matters because going to the theatre is a creative act.
DATES: November 1-18th
VENUE: HERE 145 6th Avenue one block south of Spring Street
TICKET URL: http://www.HERE.org or (212) 352-3101
More info is available at www.egoactus.com/sycorax.html