Choreographer Michael Mizerany Turns To Playwriting
‘Wally and His Lover Boys’ serves up sex farce about an older gay man
Friday, November 29, 2019
Michael Mizerany is best known in San Diego as a choreographer but now he is staging a new play he has written called "Wally and His Lover Boys" at Diversionary's Black Box Theatre.
Mizerany left Malashock Dance in 2013 and had a summer off so he took a writing workshop at the Old Globe Theatre and emerged with a short play called "20 Minutes." This leads him to working with two other playwrights to create a show for San Diego International Fringe Festival where it won a writing award. That was all Mizerany needed to prompt him to pursue more writing while still producing dance shows and choreographing for shows around town.
His new play, "Wally and His Lover Boys," is based on his experiences as an older gay man dealing with younger gay men.
"Dealing with younger gay men who come up and say things like, 'Oh, you're a silver fox.' I'm like, 'So I'm old?' I don't mind being old but to have it pointed out to me is not very nice," Mizerany said. "So it's based on my experiences being an older gay man and just dealing with life now with lots of younger gay men thinking I'm a silver fox or my grey is distinguished."
Jake Bevill plays one of those younger gay men.
"I play the antagonist Mayfield," Bevill said. "My character is the first young man that Wally decides to date after his divorce. So he's been married twice, had two failed marriages. One to a woman and then a marriage of 19 years that he ended in divorce and I'm the first date coming back onto the dating scene for him and I end up being a really bad mistake because I end up cheating on him and doing all these bad things and I'm a bad guy."
Mizerany likes to push boundaries in his work be it dance or playwriting. He likes to look as social and sexual morays and to use nudity on stage.
"I try to make all the nudity in my pieces be about the storytelling and not about just I'm naked enjoy it," Mizerany explained. "So I did a piece last year called 'Tryst' where I felt the nudity was a big part of it because one character was a prostitute and he was trying to pull in this other one. And finally he just stripped naked and that was his power. That's the power he had over that person. And so in this play, Mayfield's power is in his nudity because he feels like he doesn't have anything else."
Bevill played the prostitute in "Tryst" so he has worked with Mizerany before and with doing nudity onstage. Although we may think we live in an anything-goes atmosphere for the mainstream media such as film, network TV and the stage still remain rather prudish. Film in the 1960s and '70s, when I was growing up, seemed to have a lot more sexuality and nudity than today's films and the same seems true for stage plays.
"I actually think the nudity is necessary because as you said we do exist in a prudish time and I think that pushing people outside of their comfort zone they've discovered something about themselves," Bevill said. "Also, I feel like we're discovering something about the way we can perform. But I think that people realize where their boundaries are and they learn more about themselves going out of the theater than they did coming in with what they were comfortable saying or what they weren't comfortable saying. I think it's fun to see how people react. When we did 'Tryst' I heard all the 'oooohs' when I took off my underwear like the reaction was interesting."
"Wally and His Lover Boys" is being performed on the very intimate and small space of Diversionary's Black Box Theatre. And Bevill said he's excited about working in that venue.
"Because every scene is so intimate," Bevill said. "I mean, we're like right up and close with these moments with these characters I feel like the fact that the audience is so close to what's happening they're gonna feel just how intimate we're getting because there's a lot of things that the characters say that it's hard to admit to. Yeah, it's a very raw feeling."
Mizerany said Wally reveals his vulnerabilities when he considers his failed relationships: "At one point [Wally] says he had two marriages that failed and Mayfield's gonna fail and if he can't fix it that's three, and he thinks, you know, no one wants me. He feels like he's not needed or wanted anymore, which I think comes into play in general when we get older that we feel like we're not worth anything anymore."
Now before you think the play is serious and somber let me point out that Mayfield is a stripping paleontologist and Mizerany likes to find humor in inappropriate things so you will be laughing at times when you feel you really shouldn't. But that's Mizerany's style.
"Wally and His Lover Boys" opens on Dec. 7 and runs through Dec. 15. The production is not part of Diversionary's mainstage season.
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