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Choreographer Michael Mizerany Turns To Playwriting

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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.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Thanksgiving is behind us and the winter holidays are in full swing with plenty of arts events to choose from. The Grinch and a Christmas Carol make their annual appearances. But if you want something a little less traditional, you can check out diversionary theater's production of David's [inaudible] Santa land diaries. And if you want to stray even further off course from routine Christmas cheer diversion, Aries, Blackbox will host Wally and his lover, boys written and directed by Michael misery. Rainey KPBS arts reporter Beth OCHA Amando speaks with ms Rainey about going from choreography to play writing and with actor Jake bevel about doing nudity on stage. Here's that interview.

Speaker 2: 00:39 Michael. Most people are probably familiar with you as a choreographer,

Speaker 3: 00:44 but you have recently ventured off into writing. So what led you to do that? Um, I left a mal shag dance in 2013 and I had the whole summer free. So I took a workshop at the old globe on writing and I spent about six weeks writing a short play called, called 20 minutes and counting, which two years later it like sat on the shelf like, Oh, I should do this for fringe, fringe, fringe had just come back. I'm like, I'll do it for fringe. And so I invited two other writers to come and write short plays and we did a fringe and we won an award for best.

Speaker 2: 01:17 So you have a new piece now called Wally and his lover boys that's going to be at diversionary is black box. So what is this one?

Speaker 3: 01:25 So this is, um, based on my experience being an older gay man dealing with younger gay men who, um, come up and say things like, Oh, you're, you're a silver Fox. And I'm like, so I'm old. They're like, no, no, and you're silver Fox. But that's old, right? I don't mind being old, but the pointed out to me is a very nice, so it's based on my experiences being in an older gay man and just dealing with life now with lots of younger gay men. Thinking I'm a silver Fox or my gray is distinguished.

Speaker 2: 01:53 So we've brought one of these younger gay men in who is one of the actors, Jake. And you play one of the lover boys. Correct? I played the antagonist may field. So my character is the first young man that uh, 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 had a divorce. And I'm the first date coming back into the dating scene. You know, I ended up being a really bad mistake because I ended up cheating on him and doing all these bad things. I'm the bad guy. Your plays and your dances also tend to push the boundaries a little bit in terms of mature content, in terms of sexual explicitness and even nudity. How do you feel that gets received? Cause it seems like despite what some people may say, it feels like we're in a bit of a prudish kind of time in terms of what gets shown on a certain level. Um, you know, we feel like we have a lot of freedom, but on a certain way it seems like dealing with in a way where people tend to be enjoying it is still not exactly out in a lot of mainstream media.

Speaker 3: 03:06 I would agree with that. I tried to make all the nudity in my pieces about the storytelling and not about just, you know, I'm naked, enjoy it. So, um, I did a piece last year called truss where I felt the new D was a big part of it because one, um, 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 here too, Mayfield's power is in his nudity because he feels like he doesn't have anything else. I mean, he says, what's that line he says about, I wrote, when I get nervous, I show my fallback is a show. Everyone might ask so and so he gets nervous. He's like, Oh, I'll do a strip for you. Because he's a paleontologist and on the side he's a stripper, so, so it's a comedy.

Speaker 3: 03:49 Obviously it's a comedy, but, and it's actually almost a farce if you think about, it's like a sex farce. Well, and it's very common in the gay community. You have a lot of people who throw their looks around and that get their way through their looks. And it's, so, I think it is that way. I may feel definitely does that. And then while we meet, meet another person who's young, but he's like the opposite of that is the opposite. And then may feel comes back a few years later and he ends up trying to get in there and break them up. Yeah. Mayfield not the good guy at all. No, I love playing a bad guy who doesn't. It's always great. I'm playing a bad guy. And you've worked with Michael before. So I was in the piece that we were just talking about. Tryst I was the naked prostitute.

Speaker 3: 04:27 It seems to be a thing. I like to be naked. So that doesn't bother you or trouble you. Oh, not at all. No, I, I actually, I think it's, I think it's necessary because as you said, we do exist in a prudish time and I think that pushing people outside of their comfort zone, they, they, they've discovered something about themselves. Also. I feel like, 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 like 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. Uh, when we did tryst I heard all the, ah, when I, when I took off my underwear, like, yeah, the reaction was interesting.

Speaker 2: 05:11 Well, diversionary is a very intimate theater in terms of the size and space and you are in diversionary black,

Speaker 3: 05:19 double smaller. Yeah. It's very small. I'm actually excited about how small the spaces because it, every scene is so intimate. I mean we're, we're like right up and close with these moments with these characters. So I feel like the fact that the audience is so close to what's happening, they're going to feel just how intimate we're getting because there's a lot of things that the characters say that that it's hard to admit to, like it's very raw feeling. You're wildly at one point says, I had two marriages that failed and may feel is going to fail. I'm going to try to fix it, but if I can't fix it, that's three. And just he thinks about, you know, no one wants me anymore. My, you know, my husband doesn't, he's a doctor. My patients don't. I'm retired. My son doesn't, I have

Speaker 1: 05:58 no one needs me. He feels like he's not needed or wanted any more, which I think comes into play in general when we get older that we feel like we're not worth anything anymore. All right. Well I want to thank you both very much for talking about Wally and his lover boys. Thank you. While the N is lever boys opens December 7th at diversion areas, black box theater, that production is not affiliated with diversionary theaters. Main stage season.

Speaker 4: 06:29 [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.