La MaMa Blogs: 6 QUESTIONS: Mike Gorman

Sunday, November 23, 2014

6 QUESTIONS: Mike Gorman

Mike Gorman's IF COLORADO HAD AN OCEAN... (the final play in his trilogy The Honor and Glory of Whaling) will play La MaMa's First Floor Theatre from December 4th through 21, 2014. We got to talk to Mike about the play, Lou Reed and working at La MaMa:

1. What was in initial inspiration in writing If Colorado Had An Ocean...?
My initial inspiration for writing "If Colorado had an Ocean … " was to capture the beauty and drama of a commercial construction site. The seed for Colorado was planted a long time ago. I was working on a hotel renovation one year while I was in college and I began to write a stream of consciousness story as a means of capturing my experiences on the job site and trying to communicate them to an audience. A construction site is actually a very dynamic place scenically. It is also a great place for dialogue. Not long afterward, I was working on another renovation for the summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts with my oldest brother who was a Master Tradesman with the local Finish-Workers Union (painting and plastering) and who was also an aspiring commercial fisherman. This period of time was a very difficult one for both the construction industry and the commercial fishing industry. The economy had collapsed, drugs filled the vacuum and I witnessed many people, including my brother, begin to fall prey to the lure of heroin. I became a witness to a growing epidemic of addiction amongst working people that has continued to this day. Perhaps the most captivating experience on a job site for an artist is the play of light, both natural and artificial; constantly changing and shifting, streaming, reflecting, casting crazy shadows on the walls. Along with the light, moods shift, and there is always a hint of darkness as well. In other words, there is plenty of room on a job site for the expression of both the mania and depression that underlies addiction. Colorado is my "job-site" play at long last, tied with my love for fishing and the Romantic escape that a commercial fishing boat represents.

2. If Colorado Had An Ocean... is part of a trilogy of plays entitled, The Honor and Glory of Whaling. How does this new play fit into the trilogy?
If Colorado had an Ocean … is the third play to be produced at La MaMa from my trilogy "The Honor and Glory of Whaling" that deals with the issue of opiate addiction in the commercial fishing industry—namely, the rise and fall of a young commercial fisherman through the intrusion of heroin. Colorado is actually the first play in the trilogy chronologically. So Colorado not only has to stand alone as a play, it has to set the stage for and help launch the trilogy. This was the challenge I faced but also the excitement I experienced while writing the play. Colorado was by far the most enjoyable play to write of the three. It's the start of an incredible journey and the anticipation of what lies ahead is always the most delicious moment.

3. What is the connection between commercial fishing and addiction?
There is a strong connection between commercial fishing and addiction for many reasons. For one, it is hard work that often results in injuries that require pain management through drugs. This reality can lead to an addiction which needs to be fed following cessation of treatment if the fisherman is genetically prone to addiction. Pain management, and its mismanagement, by doctors and the pharmaceutical industry is a major issue currently, and has been for a long time. 2) Fishermen tend to be both somewhat fearless and romantic. Part of the appeal of fishing is the pursuit of a high that is hard to find in many other occupations. There is an obsession with many fishermen of living close to the edge. a yearning for intense experience. Heroin can be seen as a way to pique that experience. 3) Fishing ports are obviously a natural entry point for illicit drugs.

4. Who has influenced you as a playwright?
The two playwright's who influenced me early on were the Irish playwrights J.M. Synge and Samuel Beckett. I was really drawn to the intensely vernacular culture and language in Synge's plays, having lived, myself, for several years on a remote Island off the coast of Maine that had similarities to the isolated cultures of Synge's Aran Islands and western counties. Beckett floored me with his absurdity and his characters. I had never read anybody so bleakly funny. Eventually, I read all of the absurdists and soon fell under the spell of Sam Shepard who was the closest thing to an American Beckett as there was. A little less bleak but just as funny. These were the playwrights that made me want to write plays. I am influenced as much by literature and music as by theater and two major inspirations to me have always been the novels of Maine writer Carolyn Chute and the music and words of rock and roll poet Lou Reed. I count Carolyn as a dear friend while regretting that I never got the chance to meet Lou.

5. If stranded on a desert island, what three albums/cds would you want to have with you?
If stranded on a desert island I would actually much rather have three great books than albums/cds, but if I had to choose, I would probably take Lou Reed's "New York", "Tim" by The Replacements and "Fishermen's Blues" by The Waterboys.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
For me, working at La MaMa means having a home to pursue my creative work to its fullest potential. It also means having an artistic family and being directly connected to an amazing culture and community. Writing and producing plays in the heart of the East Village of NYC? Who could ask for anything more? I have always viewed La MaMa as a cooperative venture, starting with my relationship with Ellen. "One hand washes the other" and "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" are two sayings that my father always used to use. There's a responsibility that goes both ways in building and maintaining a home and I pride myself as much in the contributions that I have made to both the buildings and the people of La MaMa as I do in the plays that I have put on stage.

La MaMa presents

If Colorado
Had An Ocean...

by Mike Gorman
directed by David Bennett

December 4th -21st, 2014

The First Floor Theater
74A East 4th Street
(Between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $18 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors; ten tickets are available (in advance only) as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 Ticketing Initiative.  These tickets are available to anyone, first come - first served, via web, phone or at the box office - but they are not available day of show!

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE 

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