Playwright Michael Reyes Interviewed Prior to West Coast Premiere of His Play in San Pedro, California
Michael Reyes is a writer residing in New York City. His play, Over There Over Here will have it West Coast Premiere on May 29th at San Pedro's Warner Grand Theatre which is a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
A candid conversation between the playwright of Over There/Over Here opening May 29th at Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro for its West Coast Premiere, and the Artistic Director of The Relevant Stage Theatre Company, Ray Buffer. Michael Reyes, Playwight
RB: Tell us a little about yourself. What was it like for you growing up?
MR: I was born and raised on welfare to a single mother in Park Slope Brooklyn. My father was in and out of jail for most of my youth. I wanted to become a writer since about the age of ten, but as I grew older I moved away from it and stopped going to school at fifteen. I became Crip and started selling drugs. Things became really bad and I had to leave my mom's house because things got really hot. At the age of eighteen I got my GED and joined the military so I could make my parents proud and start a new life for myself.
RB: When did you decide to become a playwright?
MR: I decided to write plays my first year back from Iraq, 2004. I had decided to take writing seriously after I had completed boot camp and deployed to Germany, but I mainly wrote short fiction and poetry. However, during my first year back I had developed an idea for a project which I felt was right for the stage. It was a short one act named Tower Five, which I've since developed into a two act play. Castillo Theatre gave the play a staged reading in 2005.
RB: What led you to write Over There/Over Here?
MR: After a staged reading of some of my short sketches in the summer of 2006, Dan Friedman and Brian Mullin of Youth Onstage approached me about the possibility of creating a play for the new season. The play was to be about Iraq and I was to develop it through workshops and classes with actors and actresses from the program. I wanted the project to be about some of my experiences in Iraq, but I didn't want the play to be about me. I also wanted to depict many different opinions about the war, not just my own. I felt the work would need some degree of objectivity. We developed it in workshop and created Over There/Over Here in early fall 2006.
RB: What other pieces have you written - or are currently writing and what are they about?
MR: I've written a two act play named K-toned, it's about drug dealers, left wing politics, gentrification and Brooklyn. Another two-act play about Iraq titled Tower Five - much darker and more personal than Over There/Over Here; a short one act satire named Restless Leg Syndrome, it's about the greed and corruption of the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries. The Stare, an absurdist one act about staring and hyper accelerated consumer capitalism and a book sized collection of short sketches called The Great Sleep and It's Clients. I've just begun working on a musical about former F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover.
RB: Is writing your main interest, or are you involved in other parts of theatre?
MR: I directed my last show at the Bowery Poetry Club. I didn't like it. I don't have the patience to work with most actors and actresses.
RB:Have you written in other formats?
MR:I've been writing short fiction and poetry but I don't feel comfortable in either format, to be honest.
RB: What do you hope to be doing 5 years from today?
MR: Five years from now? I want to start up an International Non Governmental Organization providing humanitarian aid to inhabitants of slum cities, in that time.
RB: What were the challenges in creating Over There/Over Here?
MR: The most challenging part of writing Over There/Over Here was remembering fucked up shit from my deployment so I could release it into the play. Some characters were based on people I knew in the army.
RB: What inspires you?
MR: People who have lived and died for a worthy cause inspire me. Che, Malcolm, Martin. I got no love for people who just live to eat, shit and fuck.
RB: Any favorite plays that have influenced you?
MR: Faust, Short Eyes, Rhinoceros, Zoo Story, The Homecoming, and Hamlet.
RB: What is your personal, next project?
MR: A collection of sketches at the Bower Poetry Club early summer.
RB: I wish you much success with your future plans and thank you Michael for sharing your story with us. It's clearly been a remarkable journey so far.
The Relevant Stage
600 S. Pacific Avenue #220
San Pedro, CA 90731
Press Contact: Sally Lodge
The Relevant Stage is a new, non-profit theatre company performing in residence at The Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, CA. The Warner Grand Theatre is a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. TRS' mission is to produce plays, musicals, operas, and mixed media productions that challenge hearts, engage minds and expose truths. TRS tells relevant stories about the contemporary world we share.
Proudly sponsored in part by San Pedro Magazine & Press Telegram | The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs | Warschaw Gallery | AVIDITY Entertainment | Temple Beth El of San Pedro.
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