The Amoralists Want Off With Her Head
"Bring Us The Head Of Your Daughter"
Playwright/ director Derek Ahonen
PS122’s 9th Space Theater, 150 1st Avenue, New York
Opens March 31. Runs through April 24, 2011
Tickets: $40 for adults/ $20 for students. Purchase online at http://www.PS122.org or by calling 212-352-3101.
Poster of "Bring Us The Head Of Your Daughter"
Q. Cannibals, lesbians: sounds pretty wack, Derek! Tell us how you came to create this play?
A. I like to tell personal love stories through ridiculous circumstances and just play it out realistically. I also was sick of seeing so many campy avant-garde stories about things like cannibals, lesbian Nazi hookers, gay vampires… the usual downtown stuff not played out as though they were real dramas. "Bring Us The Head of Your Daughter" is about as honest, sincere, and dramatic a way one could tell a story about the lesbian mothers of an alleged cannibal.
Q. Can you describe what the play is about in your own words?
A. The play is about the hell two loving partners, Jackie and Contessa, are put through when their absent daughter, Garance turns up in the news as an alleged cannibal. It’s also a love story between two women who’ve managed to stay together in the face of alcoholism, affairs, and economic instability. And yet it’s a story about raising children without a male identity in the home. But it’s also a story about race and incest. I’m hoping audiences will find it to be a potent 90 minutes of theatre.
Q. How does it break new ground artistically?
A. I can’t remember seeing a story with such absurd circumstances played out without a hint of irony. It’s really just a personal story. In fact, through the many rewrites, it’s probably become my most personal play.
Q. What was it like working with your leads?
A. Mara, Anna, Jordan and Sarah are just fantastic in this piece. They come to work everyday with so much exuberance and honesty. I’ve been watching all of their work for a few years now and when the window opened for us to collaborate on this project I jumped at the chance to get them on our Amoralist stage!
Q. What sort of other pop culture works is it in the vein of?
A. "The Crying Game" is the closest thing I can think of, in the sense where such absurd circumstances are played out with such love and honesty.
Q. In your opinion, how's the theater scene doing nationally and internationally?
A. I wouldn’t know internationally. I’ve never left America and don’t plan on it. I’m a very American man and I write very American stories about Americans. I hear the scene is awesome in Berlin, but I’ll have to trust others, cause I’m not going. I’m the only person I know that hasn’t left the country… even to Canada. At the risk of sounding ignorant I kind of like that I’m a playwright without a desire to see the world. I feel like I can write a more honest play about two lesbian American mothers than I could ever about a boy growing up in Communist Poland. As for theatre here, I think it’s like any medium. 90% is crap. 1% of the famous stuff is fantastic. And you have to work really hard to find the other 9% that’s great. Being in New York it’s easier to find it, because it’s such a compact theatre community, but I’d go crazy as an Artistic Director in New Mexico looking for the really good shit to produce.
Q. Can you tell me a funny anecdote or nerve-racking moment from the rehearsal process?
A. I’ve been out of school ten years now and I’ve seen everything. From an actor’s superstitious process of snorting two lines of coke, doing a half shot Beam, and farting before going on stage, to the shit that was going on backstage in The Pied Pipers, to me getting kicked out of my own show at intermission for drunken mumblings about The Chicago Bears during the first act. It’s all fun and all part of making theatre. The theatre is a place where artists and audience go to celebrate and explore existence together in the moment. There’s going to be weird shit that happens leading up to and during such an exorcism of souls. I love it all.
Mara Lileas as Contessa Springs and Anna Stromberg as Jackie Goldstien are mothers of an alleged cannibal. Photo by Larry Cobra.
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