This week I talked with playwright Oliver Mayer about the World Premiere of his new play Yerma in The Desert at Greenway Court Theatre and Urban Theatre Movement November 17th through December 16th in Los Angeles, CA. The play is inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s play Yerma but gives the story a contemporary spin addressing current issues of immigration, racism, sexual identity and gender inequality. Set in an elite university Yerma in The Desert focuses on the lives of custodial and public safety staff who clean up the mess and tell no tales in a Trumpian dystopia where personal grudges lead to deportation and worse. Mayer tackles big themes in the shifting relations between men and women at work and in the bedroom and with Yerma In The Desert, co-directed by Marlene Forte and Edgar Landa, they fuse with Lorca to speak loudly towards liberating us all from political constraints and cultural extremism. Oliver who is a fierce ally and married to the talented Latina actress Marlene Forte might not be gay but he holds our LGBTQ community close to his heart and close to home as his mother has been with her partner for over 20 years. I talked to Mayer about his new play Yerma in The Desert and his spin on our LGBTQ issues.
When asked how he sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Mayer stated:
I think it’s a good news and bad news situation. I do think that Trump by being a celebrity in quotes, a creature of Hollywood, I don’t think he bears any animus in particular to the LGBTQ community that he’s met or dealt with in his business. I do really think he sees green and so I think at least there’s no animus like there might be from a President Pence; that scares me. So I think the good news about Trump is he’s not some kind of really scary figure. I feel he’s a puppet and I feel he can be maneuvered any which way. So I’m really afraid of the people that are on either side of him. So the bad news is that they will move him. I think not that they can, but they will in ways that are going to be really distasteful to any of us who feel that we made any strides in the last fifteen years, that we’re going to have to fight for everything all over again. So I really do think that the LGBT community members really have to get together now and prepare for the worst and maybe hope for the better than that but prepare for the worst, prepare for fights, prepare for trials and demonstrations. I’m afraid that the next few years are going to be riffed with struggling for things that we thought we had already gained.
Oliver Mayer is the author of nearly 30 plays. In the 1990’s he ignited a firestorm with his controversial play Blade to the Heat about a 1950′s nobody-turned-championship boxer forced to confront his own sexuality after a dethroned champion accuses him of being gay. The sequel Members Only will be opening in 2018. Mayer is an Associate Professor with tenure and Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives at the USC School of Dramatic Arts and has won several awards including the Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is also a member of The Temblors, an LA writer’s collective. Yerma in The Desert is made possible through the support of the Greenway Residency Program and Greenway Court Theatre, programs of Greenway Arts Alliance.