I’ve traveled too often to claim a hometown, and since this country seems to be turning into a militaristic security obsessed police state, I’ve joined the resident aliens in permanent exile (but New York is my heart’s home).
New York City (where going to the theatre is a way of life)
Tell us about your play:
Since moving to New York five years ago, I’ve often wandered the fabric shops in the Garment District and intended The Draper’s Eye to be both a tribute and exposé of its current economic demise, but my characters took their own wayward journeys and I followed. The play became a contemporary tale of obsession which takes place in Spindles Fabric Shop where women appear to be vanishing. Penelope, a young violinist whose disabled sister lives across the street, and Siegfried, Spindle’s window draper and a former physics prodigy, attempt to unravel the mystery while falling desperately in love. An investigation ensues, involving a journalist and photographer who spread news of the mysterious shop while Siegfried attempts to prove the existence of folds in a fabric that lead through unseen dimensions to a parallel universe. The Draper’s Eye can also be perceived as a metaphorical exploration of conflicted feelings in a family where death is imminent, as well as musings on the metaphysical implications of recent theories in physics, and the effects of globalization on American industries.
What are your goals with the Newborn Festival:
The directors, actors, and audience response will help to determine A: if the episodic scenes flow with internal logic; B: if the scenes taking place at different times and locations (but presented simultaneously) are too confusing; C: if the entire play can be portrayed on a single stylized set; D: if the ending abdicates hope for the future of humanity (which was not my intention).
Another objective is to see if the script is too dogmatic since the inspiration for the play relates to the fact that we’re currently in the midst of a historic debacle: the social, political, and economic structures that governed our country seem to be breaking down. While our economy once generated widespread prosperity and enabled the rise of a broad, vibrant, well educated middle class, it now seems to be functioning for the exclusive benefit of the rich and richest, leaving most everyone else in debt. This decline as well as the globalization of the textile industry has been catastrophic for the struggling Garment District.
My ideal Newborn Festival goals are to make the play more succinctly and artfully crafted, and its characters more fully humanized, impassioned and engaging. Any response from directors, actors, dramaturges and audience members would be most appreciated since I believe that plays evolve over many drafts, that the secret to writing is rewriting. The poet, Paul Valery once wrote, “A poem is never finished; only abandoned.” The same can be said for a play.
Most interesting feedback you've received from an audience member:
After a reading and talkback of Devil Dog Six at the Penguin Repertory Theatre, a woman from their board said, “My friends and I were very disappointed in the the play. We wanted Devon (the woman jockey) to finally win and you made her lose!” I was devastated and didn’t really respond, but weeks later I returned to the script and realized that my instinctual propensity was to make the jockey a passive victim, and so I changed the tone and ending of the play, and it finally found brave theatres willing to produced it. I’d somehow forgotten that I was socialized in a culture in which women are rarely seen as heroic or triumphing, and if they do triumph, they often tend to pay dearly by losing their lovers, their fortunes, or their lives.
How would you like to be remembered?
Life is for the living, so I don’t want people wasting their precious time remembering me. I would much prefer the miracle of some actors infusing their personalities into the characters of my plays. Then perhaps I’ll be watching, gazing down from the balcony of the Gate of Paradise Theatre, or looking up from the other direction which is far more likely (unless we’re doomed to utter oblivion).
Don't miss the free reading this year's MTWorks Board of Director's Excellence in Playwriting Award winner, The Draper's Eye, part of the 2014 Newborn Festival.
WED, FEB 5 @ 7:30 PM
The City College of New York - North Academic Center
Excellence in Playwriting Award Winner:
THE DRAPER'S EYE
By Fengar Gael
Directed by Dev Bondarin
Penelope and her dying sister Portia live in NYC across the street from a fabric store. When Portia notices that women enter the shop and never return, she investigates herself and vanishes.
- Talk-Back hosted by MTWorks' Board Chair, Dr. Ann Marie Yali
- Monologue from finalist Mama's Gonna Buy You by Chisa Hutchinson