Friday, May 13, 2016

Behind the Scenes at the Opera House: Michael Gorman

Hello all! We are very excited to close out our week with a visit from playwright Michael Gorman to our blog. You may remember Michael's work from the production of Biffing Mussels in 2009. We're thrilled to be showcasing another one of his plays, UltraLight, as the final Community Staged Reading of the spring season. Dates for the show are below, but first, spend a little time getting to know Mike!

1) Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small rural central Massachsetts town called Warren located in southwestern Worcester county. My mother came from a farm family that grew up in Warren. My father came from Boston to take a job teaching history in the local high school. There were six of us kids, born within eight years -- Irish Catholic! Our greatest joys were  playing and working in the woods and fields, athletics (my dad was also a coach), and reading. (Only 3 television channels) Hard work and education were always at the center of our lives.

2). How would your elementary school classmates remember you?

My elementary school classmates would probably remember me as quiet but smart. The quiet part probably playing into the appearance of being smart! I was always writing as well as reading, taking my notebook down into the woods or to bed with me at night, determined to express something profound or poetic about the world. Nature was my obsession. They probably also remember me as being kind, I believe. Being an artist, I have always been sensitive to the situations of others. And being a middle child, I have always tried to include others. As an adult, I have embraced the fact that I am an "extroverted introvert"-- a reality that has probably naturally inclined me toward both the writing and performance of plays.

3) Name four fictional characters with whom you'd be okay being stuck in an elevator. Why them?

Muley Graves from The Grapes of Wrath because he would just crouch in the corner and wouldn't say anything.

Bartleby the Scrivener from Herman Melville's story because he would be as silent as old Muley unless you asked him to do something, and then he would just say "I'd prefer not".

Carolyn Chute, the great Maine novelist, because I could just talk with her and her husband Michael for days about everything.

Michael Chute, Carolyn's husband, because we have our own silent non-literary communication and both like to smoke the occasional cheap cigar.

Whoops! Carolyn and Michael aren't fictional, but they are kind of mythical. Does that count? :)

4) If you were a cartoon character, which character would you be?

I don't know who I'd be. I did play a cynical and somewhat cavalier rabbit once in a play my brother and I wrote for a Halloween event, so maybe I could be Bugs Bunny in an episode that the Coen Bros. wrote.

5) When did you fall in love with theatre?

I fell in love with theatre through my studies in Landscape Architecture before I finished my degree in literature and through reading plays. I was always trying to put people into my landscape designs, rural or urban, and raise their interaction to the level of some kind of poetic performance. When I transferred to Clark University to pursue my degree in Literature, I took a class in theatre and started reading plays and said WOW, I can do this. Writing plays allowed me to find my natural voice which was as much that of a visual artist as that of a writer. In theatre, you can make a lot of things happen at once. I liked that. The plays that interested me most, other than the absurdists, (Beckett, Pinter, Ionesco) were the plays coming out of the downtown theater scene in NYC. One theatre, in particular, kept coming up--La MaMa e.t.c.--and I knew one day soon I would have to knock on that door.

Don't miss Gorman's stunning UltraLight on Wednesday, May 18 at 7pm and Saturday, May 21 at 2pm at the Stonington Opera House! Directed by Dave Bennett. Suggested donation: $10.