Interview with Matthew Gasda



Matthew Gasda is a playwright, director, filmmaker, and screenwriter in New York City. He graduated from Syracuse University in 2011 with a BA in Philosophy. He obtained a Master’s in English from Lehigh University in 2016. He  has published two novels, Moon on Water and Sonata for Piano and Violin, and a book of poetry, The American Sublime. His first play, Messages, was staged in early 2015 as a workshop production by Gorilla Rep NYC and appeared in 2015 at the Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City, directed by Christopher Carter Sanderson. His adaptation of Euripides The Bacchae was commissioned by SUNY Oswego and was invited to the 48th Annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.  In April 2016 Matthew directed Messages at The Moore Street Lofts in Brooklyn. Matthew’s second play Denmark debuted at Access Theater in New York in June 2016, directed by Vanessa Kopel. His adaptation of The Bacchae was performed in Central Park in July 2016, directed by Christopher Carter Sanderson. Matthew will debut and direct his newest play, Ardor,  Matthew’s newest play,   and debuting fall 2016.


Why theater? 

Theater is uniquely alive and at-risk in every moment; or it can be — if the elements are right. It is uniquely alive in the way that quotidian life is not necessarily alive and at-risk. It is necessary medicine. An ancient medicine. A ritual of self-realization. World literature has produced only a handful of great plays; there is far less first-rate drama than there is poetry or prose. It is a unique and absolutely challenging form: theater demands the crystallization of the way we — whoever we are at any given point in space time– live, think, breath, feel.   

Why Ardor?

Ardor is ontologically and linguistically ambitious: it attempts to put pressure on our own sense of ourselves not as beings in the world, but as beings who use language to define the world they live in. More prosaically: Ardor is about us, but it is also open to re-interpretation in the future. I didn’t want to write a play that will be useless in ten years: this is not a blog article about young people or contemporary art — it’s about the chaos that underlies human nature; a chaos that can be painted with different colors and associations.
What inspires you? 
In the words of the Flaming Lips: ‘everyone you know someday will die.’ I’m inspired by the limits put on life, on creative power, on memory. Writing a play is an intentional act of acceptance and recognition of finitude. Which is to say that I’m inspired by everything I’ve ever read that has seen done this: but most of all probably Shakespeare and Chekhov on stage; Malick and Bergman in film; Joyce and Tolstoy in prose.


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