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Michael John Garcés on The Web

September 3, 2010

Michael John Garcés

Long known as Cornerstone Theater’s artistic director, Michael John Garcés also is a playwright. His latest work, The Web, steams from fears he developed from his days living in Columbia and traveling through southern Mexico.

 “I was going through my journal and came across an odd little paranoid paragraph, which I have no memory of writing! It was about being followed by unknown others and having my identity taken away from me. A couple days later I started writing this piece.”

The plot, he says, started coming in an unfamiliar, speedy way. “Usually I write from a theme and have to find the plot. I was just intrigued by the notion of writing a genre play. I really like noir. Having grown up in Columbia until I graduated from high school, a lot of that thriller stuff you hear about is real. I had American friends whose fathers were in the CIA and Columbian friends whose fathers were in the military. Some of the drug dealers’ kids went to the same school. People were getting kidnapped and disappearing – it was very common.”

The plot is constructed around the safety and security of the Internet. “But I think it’s less about the technology of it and more about the possibility of having your life stolen from you in a more analog way. It’s the relationship between what seems ephemeral online and what seems very solid in real life, but in some ways the digital is more solid [and safe] than the analog.”

His protagonist loses concrete things: his job and girlfriend, and whoever’s behind these losses also finds a way to alienate him from his family “in surprisingly easy ways.”

Garcés mostly hopes people are entertained by the story. “Unlike a lot of what I’ve written, I view this as entertainment and that people enjoy the ride. Beyond that, especially in Columbia, things can be taken away from us – it happens pretty regularly. I think if you’re Muslim in this society, there’s more awareness of the fact that what you have could be taken away from you fairly easily and the legal and societal structures around that aren’t as solid as you might think.”

So is the U.S. tipped toward safety and security or away from it? “I think the intent is to tip the scale toward safety and security. That seems to be where our politicians tend to land, but I think it’s pretty tenuous. For the middle and upper classes, it’s certainly tipped toward safety and security – the notion of the sanctity of property, for example.

“I think if you’re a person of color in this country and you look at the grindingly difficult statistics of the number of minorities who spend time in the prison system, which is outrageous, the scale is tilted in the other direction. So this play looks at a guy who’s solidly middle class. He’s not a rich guy, but he’s getting by. For him, the notion that stuff can be taken away is just not real.”

The cast includes Tony Sancho, Amanda Zarr, Betsy Reisz, Edgar Landa, Justin Huen, Stan Kelly, and Ian Forester.

The Web is directed by Alyson Roux and produced by needtheater by Matt B. Wells, Ilona Piotrowska, and Rachel Stoll. Previews begin Sept 10; performances Sept 17 – Oct 17, 2010. Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 5pm. Previews- $15; General Admission- $20; Students/Seniors- $17 with ID

Art|Works Theatre
6569 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038

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