Anthology play Broken Pieces will play its final two performances on Saturday, July 28 at 3:15 PM and Monday, July 30 at 7:15 PM as part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Before ending its run, playwright Mateo Moreno (Bohemian Valentine, Paper Airplanes) chatted about current events that shaped the show and why he challenges his audience, even if it makes them uncomfortable.
What is Broken Pieces?
Broken Pieces is an anthology play, weaving together six short plays into one full length evening. Each piece plays on a different aspect of something “Broken,” from the broken relationship of a father and his daughter to a two-bit criminal and his broken promise to the fractured country we live in today. Through all of them, I’m trying to tell stories that showcase the humor, the horror, and the rush of emotions we try to deal with each and every day.
Broken Pieces is described as Twilight Zone meets Black Mirror, set in the not too distant future. What draws you to dystopian futures, and would you say you’re personally optimistic or pessimistic about the future of mankind?
Twilight Zone and Black Mirror are the easiest ways to quickly describe the tone, and they were definitely inspirations when writing these. Only one of the pieces is set in the not so distant future – the fourth piece of the night – and it is very much a dystopian future, one where women’s rights have been stripped away. That piece itself is both optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, and I feel like that also describes me.
Overall, I’m hopeful for the future, and I continue day and night to be an activist in these challenging times we find ourselves in. I’m confident that we’ll make it out of this, but with each new headline, it gets more and more frustrating to stay with it. But we must.
You’re the writer and producer of Broken Pieces, as well as an actor in the show. What do you enjoy about all these different roles, and how do you balance having a vision for your work as a writer/producer while also maintaining a spirit of collaboration with your director and the rest of the cast and crew?
I love collaboration, seeing how my vision for the piece fits or differs from what the actors or director might see. I’m very proud of the words that I wrote, but I wouldn’t think twice about hacking it to bits if it wasn’t working on a storytelling level or simply not feeling right.
For instance, one of the pieces in rehearsal wasn’t working and my Director, Assistant Director, and the Actress playing the lead role came to me, and we discussed how the ending felt false. I never saw it before they brought it to my attention, and suddenly, I couldn’t un-see it. So I went home, completely cut the original ending and wrote a new one. Brought it to rehearsal the next day, and it finally worked. And I owe that to them and our collaboration.
I’m so lucky with the cast and crew I have here. My director Ella Jane New has simply done a brilliant job of finding the core emotions and really digging into each moment. Our cast is brilliant and I’m honored to share the stage with them. And my Assistant Director/Stage Manager David Rey has been a true partner on this. Producing a show on your own, even simply a festival show, is daunting, but everyone collaborated and came together with so much support that I never felt alone. I don’t think I could have done it without them.
Your show benefits Planned Parenthood. What does this organization and its mission mean to you, and why did you choose it?
Let’s face it, we are living in very dangerous times right now. We have an out-of-control President, a Congress that simply won’t stand up for anything, the “left” and “right” consistently fighting without ever actually listening, and politicians – mostly male – who think it’s their job to control what a women does with their body. And mostly, they use religion as a way of justifying that decision.
Planned Parenthood is such a essential organization that provides medical care to anyone who cannot afford it, gives women access to birth control and support when they need it the most, offers pap smears for cervical cancer screening as well as breast exams, and has many LGBT services including hormone therapy for transgender patients. Planned Parenthood itself is under attack simply because they provide abortion services, which is something else that is under attack. We must stand up, everyone, and be an ally to save this important organization and to save women’s right to control their own body. In an age where health care is either astronomically high or non-existent, Planned Parenthood is a vital organization.
What do you enjoy most about Broken Pieces as theatrical storytelling, and what do you hope to make your audience feel or think about after the show is over?
Each and every night, I love watching the magic that this cast does on stage. Each one of them – Michaela Alyse Tomcho, Simoné Elizabeth Bart, Patrick Clements, Kayla Wickes, Frances Ramos – are so beyond what I ever hoped for. They breathe new life into the scenes each night, and I am just in awe of their talent. As for what I want the audience to feel or think? There’s a lot of things that I hope they will discuss on the way home and for days after.
The last scene in particular is a shot of Political Adrenaline, and it’s not meant to be an easy watch. Each night, the audiences have had drastically different reactions to it. From stunned silence, to uncomfortable laughter, to howling laughter with the occasional, “Man, that’s effed up…”
I want to challenge the audience to see something differently. To make them think. You can love it or hate it, just don’t be indifferent. To hopefully touch their hearts and make them laugh. And remember us long after we’re gone.
Broken Pieces is running as part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity at the Teatro LATEA @ The Clemente (located at 107 Suffolk Street), thru July 30. Tickets are $25, benefiting Planned Parenthood. Tickets are available online here or at the door.