The acclaimed playwright and criminal defense attorney opens up about the making of Firehouse
See clip on interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYj2dJRmFPo
Q: Firehouse is an intense story about controversial social issues that continue to plague society. What was the pivotal motivation that inspired you to write a story about a South Bronx firehouse?
Kamar de los Reyes
This outstanding actress opens up about working in with the boys and her role as an idealistic attorney defending the underserved and indigents
A: The minute the cast read the script, I knew I was in good company. Surrounded by a group of crazy-talented artists, I had to step it up. So I held my own, became one of the boys and earned their respect.
A: I found Aida's plight to be very personal to me. I feel it is extremely important to support other people in any way I can. I've always been very passionate about giving my time and effort to causes and of course to my Latino community. Emotionally, I understood the journey very well.
A: Aida is not only the sole representative of an entire outraged community, but also a woman deeply in love with a man she thinks is a devoted compatriot. The circumstance of this story put this man on the fence and shakes her world. I had to find a way to walk a very thin line between passionate righteous strength and the vulnerability of being betrayed by the person I love the most.
Gerald Downey, Elvis Nolasco, Kamar de los Reyes
Jon Southwell, Jossara Jinaro, Bryan Rasmussen, Ed Morrone
A: I go through a very intense preparation for every character I play. I do a series of character exercises, like a private moment with the character, finding the unfulfilled need of a character, adapt an animal and use it as a sensory for mannerisms and personality. I've learned throughout this process to find something that puts a motor in my soul before stepping out into the stage. And, lastly, HAVE FUN and give the audience what they came for.
Q: What in your background helped you with this character?
A: I try to utilize any real experiences I might have had with loss. In this case “Pito,” he has lost a lot…his person to his addiction, or he has never recovered from the tragic death of his father. And, there is his love and support from his brother “Roberto ‘Perry’ Miranda. Having lost family and friends as a result of natural causes, sickness or addition, tapping into the grief factor is not hard for me. I draw from my own losses.
A: Most of the preparation was in learning the thought process that this character goes through throughout the play. I am normally cast as ‘the nice guy’ or ‘dad,’ or in more comedic roles. In the beginning I worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull off the role of a cop. A cop who has been through the stress, the anxiety, the trial, and the daily horrors that he must’ve seen. So, much of the preparation was researching the stresses of a police officer. At one time, not too long ago, I wanted to stop acting and apply for the police academy. After spending some time with this idea and doing some research, I remember reading a quote from an officer. He said, (paraphrasing), “after years on the job, I’ve learn to really distrust people. The things I see people do to each other have made me made dislike humans.” That really stuck with me.
A: NOTHING! Thank goodness! Ha! I come from a very “live and let live” family.
A: I believe everyone is a little bit racist or has been at one time or another. If they truly are honest with themselves, I believe we have all made some racist reactions or assumptions…sad but true. To answer your question, no, throughout the rehearsing the play and performing I haven’t felt a sting of being thought of as a racist. Most of the reactions have been, “I really enjoyed hating you.” I take that as a compliment. I feel flattered the audiences so far have understood my character’s struggle, and enjoyed my performance. They hate the character but loved my performance. I’ve done my job and told the story.
A: (Jon Southwell, “Breaker”) No. I've been extremely fortunate to be working with a cast, crew and writer that are not only consummate professionals who are truly gifted in their craft, but also caring, giving, deeply empathic individuals. They have each extended their hands and hearts to this project and to me as well. As much as I identify with most of my character's sensibilities (love, loyalty, and sacrifice), the portrayal of his lesser qualities (racism, homophobia, and hate) have been made possible by the support of my fellow cast members.
A: Although I have produced musicals previously, I come from a background of acting for over 25 years. Having worked in a variety of plays, I've learned to recognize and appreciate great writing and great talent. Producing gives me the ability to create in a way I could not as an actor. I may be limited as a performer, based on age, gender, etc. As a producer, I get to help put the pieces together to create something amazing.