Thursday, November 30, 2017

Highlights From BoHo's Talkback With Michael John LaChiusa

On November 17th, BoHo Theatre held a talkback with writer/composer Michael John LaChiusa and our artists following a performance of Marie Christine. Presented here are edited selections from that event.

Moderator: What possessed you to write this show?

Michael John LaChiusa: A series of things. One was working with Graciela Daniele. We were talking about our favorite plays of all time and we both agreed that one of the greatest plays ever written was Medea, the Greek play.

And then a young lady came to audition for me for a show I was writing at the time called Hello Again, and she was amazing, she blew my mind, but I couldn’t cast her in the show because she was too young. She had just graduated from Juliard. Her name was Audra McDonald. But at that moment, I said, “I must write a play for her one day.”

And then my brother sent me a book of myths and legends of old New Orleans, particularly of Marie Laveau. And I was sitting there reading that book and there was one line that said, “Marie Laveau had a daughter who ran away north with a white man.” And the pieces fell into place. And I wrote it.

It all just came together. I thought, I can transpose Medea into latter century New Orleans and really explore something I didn’t know a lot about. Also politically, I got to be a murderer too, theatrically, because there is the trope of the tragic mulatto, which is something that I despise, and I thought maybe with Marie Christine, I could kill the tragic mulatto stereotype. So that’s one of the reasons why I wrote it.

It’s all loaded, why I wrote the show, why it’s never really done-- its dark stuff. But it’s one of my most precious scores because it means so much.