Marcus Gualberto Interview by Jen Bush
Marcus Gualberto serves as the director for Joe Moe’s exciting new play, Deny we Were. He has strong positive feelings about the people he works with. “I am only as good as the people I am surrounded with. I love working with smart, intelligent, passionate, talented, empathetic actors, and I am lucky to be continually surrounded by them whenever I work on a project.” He strives to bring out the best in people. ’I’m merely a conduit who uplifts their best selves and ultimately share their limitless range of talents with the world.”
DENY WE WERE premieres as part of the Fresh Fruit “Return to Live Theatre” Festival
“Deny We Were,” directed by Marcus Gualberto and produced by Jay Michaels in association with Fresh Fruit Festival, with Ida Nau-DeLuke as executive producer features a production design by John Gross and lighting design by Maarten Cornelis with Adam Hamdy. The limited run is Wednesday 5/11 at 6:00 pm; Friday 5/13 at 8:00 pm; Saturday 5/14 at 5:00 pm at The WILD PROJECT, 195 East 3rd Street, NYC. For further info: freshfruitfestival.com
It’s all LA sunshine and fun until a handsome teenage inquisitor shows up with a chip on his shoulder. When precocious 17-year old Jonah McCabe bunks with adopted “Guncle” Dean Vela, raging hormones take a backseat to burning resentment of his controlling, ex-model dad, Jimmy, and a sneaking suspicion Uncle Dean and dad have been “more than just friends.” Dean deflects. Jonah’s mom, Carrie, vents her issues with partner Jimmy, who she supports financially and who, in return, enjoys it. Who is this gorgeous villain that has everyone eating off of his abs? When Jimmy finally appears in the charismatic flesh, thirsty secrets unravel in the narcissistic centrifuge that spins around an unsqueezable love-sponge. Desire and deceit, all suspended in a soap bubble of wicked humor.
I had the chance to talk with Marcus Gualberto about his directing career, this play and what’s on the horizon for him.
What attracted you to this play?
What’s not to love about a queer, POC-led play featuring queer POC characters who are not defined by their ethnicity and culture, written by a queer POC playwright!
What is your creative process? How do you run a rehearsal period?
Before we get on our feet for first rehearsal, I like to conduct what I call “Character Therapy.” I like to take the character out of the world of the play and ask the actor to put them in current mundane situations so we can learn more about them. And thus begins a series of questions and as we go through the rehearsal journey, it’s either these questions get answered or more questions arise. The most important thing for me during the rehearsal process is to ensure it is a safe space – to explore, to think, to process. Everyone has a personal process and I have to know how to work with each individual actor so that I can bring us all together to tell this important story we have been charged to tell. Throughout the process, I constantly ask: Are you having fun? Because if they are not having fun, that tells me I am not doing a good job. We are lucky to be in a field where we can actually have fun in what we are doing and sharing with the audience. We started out doing theatre because it was fun, and I try and remind them that it can still be fun.
Give us your thoughts on the growth of the LGBTQ culture and community.
In so short of time, we have made great strides because of the passion and anger that fueled us to want more because we deserve more. But there is still a lot to do because we never stop growing. If we take up space, we must also remember to take a step aside and make room to empower someone to take up space. And we will be there beside them. We must always look around the table and ask: Who else do we need to invite to the table? Every single one of us deserves a seat.
What do you hope your audience takes away from this production?
This is a deeply human play. There is no archetype or a neat little bow. We are all heroes and villains at one point in our lives, and will continue to play these roles unscripted. In a larger scheme, it shouldn’t have to take a queer, POC-led team to direct a queer POC-led cast in a queer POC-centered play. The responsibility to tell our own stories shouldn’t be left up to us. But, here we are and this is what we have to do to if we want to see theatre that look like us and think like us. As queer POC artists, must actively cultivate and foster playwrights’ voices they can continue tell our stories.
What’s next for you?
As Co-Founder of Regeneration Theatre, we are in planning stages to regroup and return to public performances. Throughout the pandemic, we rallied and engaged artists through private virtual readings and we are looking at translating some of these readings back on stage as part of our second stage programming.
I have directed two one acts for Wayne L. Firestone for a few festivals, and we are now working on shaping them (along with new material) towards a full length piece. We are organizing a staged reading sometime this summer.