What was the inspiration for this play?
Inspiration for this play struck while walking through a neighborhood I’ve known and loved for over a decade: Hell’s Kitchen. I’ve often lamented to friends that the area has changed immensely in recent history—but with every year that passes, for as much as Hell’s Kitchen is becoming a tourist-friendly hotspot, it somehow still defies being reclassified as ‘Clinton’, the more welcoming name real-estate agents often push for it. When a friend mentioned that a bar I frequented was once a meeting place for the Westies, a violent Irish gang, it reignited my fascination with the history hidden in plain sight and I began reading up on the Irish mob in Hell’s Kitchen. So while I was walking to my favorite local coffee shop one fateful day (Hey, Kahve!), taking in the pride flags in almost every bar window, I wondered… what if a former resident of Hell’s Kitchen (an Irish gangster) were to possess one of its newer residents (an out-and-proud gay man)? Has the neighborhood really changed as much as it seems?
What do you love about NYC?
It’s hard to quantify but New York just feels like home. it’s a cliché, but my heart beats to the rhythm here. There are so many things to adore– from the melting pot of cultures in NYC (so many foods!) to the entertainment (so many shows!) to even the subway (so many lines, when it’s actually running)– NYC is alive 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I’m constantly amazed by the rich history hidden in plain sight all around our city, the old in constant dialogue with the new… if only we would stop and notice.
What was your greatest challenge about writing your play?
In terms of the characters, I struggled with striking the right balance between being emotionally grounded yet still heightened. I’m a big believer in the whole “truth in comedy” thing, so while I wanted the play to contain an event that’s unreal, I wanted to ground the high emotional stakes all the characters. When writing comedy you also don’t always know how things are going to land until there’s some kind of audience present. This discovery is something I look forward with every rehearsal as well as the production itself. Wordplay that seems funny on the page doesn’t always translate and physical comedy needs to be physicalized. But an audience will tell you if it’s working, and so I’m grateful to get a chance to share the piece June 8th to 11th at SPF!