Friday, March 18, 2016
Spotlight On...Nelson Diaz-Marcano
Hometown: Gurabo, PR
Education: BFA in Cinema and Cultural Studies from Stony Brook University
Favorite Credits: Prison Song (DUTF 13, Midwinter Madness Festival), Revolucion: A Love Story (The Secret Theater), Sweating Bullets (Thespis Theater Festival, Ophelia Theater Workshop Series)
Why theater?: That has a simple answer: Some stories are better told on stage. The funny part is theater was not ever on my radar till I decided to take an acting class out of nowhere. I took the class when I was 19 because I was thinking of becoming a film director and thought I needed to know how to act. Valeri Lantz-Gefroh was my professor and she changed the course of my life. From my involvement in theater I started to write regularly, grew as an artist, and got experience in the power of many art forms. This helped me realize how they are just all tools to ultimately achieve the same goal, which is to tell these stories. I know who I am because of theater.
Tell us about Radical: Radical is a dark play, probably my darkest, because it is about the loss of hope. It is about the crumbling of a society made by its own people, created by the fact that the upper classes did not want to include anyone else. The only thing the poor have over the rich is hope for something better; on September 11, 1973, they took that away from the lower classes in Chile. Having said that, it is definitely the most intense and fast paced play I have ever written. It’s not a snorefest, the darkness is there, but you won’t be able to acknowledge it since you will be too busy catching your breath.
What inspired you to write Radical?: I wrote a play before this one, Revolucion: A Love Story, that dealt with the Cuban revolution and how families were destroyed. From my research on that play I became fascinated by communism, socialism, Operation Condor, but more importantly, Salvador Allende. I wanted to tell this story because I thought it was amazing how little Americans know about him, about 9/11/73, the United States’ involvement, and what that country went through after. But I think more importantly here is what inspired me to submit it to this festival, and that was how incredibly poignant it is now. I didn’t set to write something this relevant, but it is, and that scares the hell out of me. The class division, the gun debate, the rise of the military, an insane person with power… I mean Trump could easily become another Pinochet.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Innovation. Importance. As artists we have a responsibility, it’s not all lights and curtains. It’s about using what you have and educating when you can. We have a weapon, our talent, and we get to use it as we want in this country. Everyone nowadays is pointing fingers and accusing, screaming, assuming… we have the power to entertain them while letting them know that all of that is pointless. Through our stories we can reach whole communities. Yes not everything has to be that serious, but who says telling the truth has to be dramatic. So that kind of theater, innovative and bold theater that uses stage magic to wow us and at the same time makes us pick up a book after. I like to be rattled. And those who follow this; Spike Lee, Edward Albee, Paul Thomas Anderson, Alejandro G. Iñarritu, Neil Gaiman… they inspire me to always think outside the box but inside society.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: In an ideal world Paul Thomas Anderson would ask me to write a movie for him or I would get to have Ian McKellen do a show of mine. I would co-write with Neil Gaiman or let Ennio Morricone do the music to my show. But in a more realistic way, I would love to work with this actor who used to go to college at the same time as me, his name is Andy Lucien. He’s taking NYC by storm.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: From the festival? or in general? If it’s from the festival there are many plays I want to see, and I have different friends willing to come! I have a broken foot at the moment so we’ll see to how many I can go to in the end. If it’s around now, anything by Mind The Arts Entertainment. Also there’s two shows coming this month that peaked my interest Locust Have No Kings by J. Julian Christopher and When We Wake Up Dead by Dennis A. Allen II. These are very good writers, and if you are not following them you are missing out.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Adam Driver, hands down. Look at the picture. Tell me you don’t agree. It will be called “Those Big Old Ears and What was Between Them”
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original production of The Pillowman definitely. So many, but I always regret missing that one.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: B-movies, b-anything. I love the unaltered, craziness that comes from it, and the freedom of expression. Even if they are terrible!
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A filmmaker, journalist, or editor.
What’s up next?: Who knows, the world? Ha! I have a webseries in development at the moment with the fantastic Xavier Rodney, and a couple of projects being discussed in film. But my biggest drive right now, and it happened because of working on this play again, is to finish the Latin American trilogy of Revolucion and Radical with a play called Revolt. It will be my most personal work, since it has to do with Puerto Rico and its identity after the United States took us over. To say I’m both excited and scared is an understatement.