Alumni writes, produces and directs play
by Gibson Merrick
Co-Editor in Chief
Last week the paper received an interesting email from our eccentric billionaire great-uncle Moumini. We didn’t know we had a great-uncle Moumini, but he promised us some inheritance if we sent him all our bank account information, so how could we refuse? We also got an email from Fordham alumnus Gaelle Voltaire, who was looking to talk to someone about the upcoming play she was working on. We decided to interview her while we waited to hear back from Uncle ‘Mini, partly because we’re starting to get a little impatient about our millions, but also because a play about agoraphobia sounded pretty cool. Enjoy!
the paper: Tell us a little about the play you’ve been working on.
Gaelle: The play is called Agoraphobe and it’s about a college girl who’s trying to come to terms with a trauma that’s happened in her past. In the play, she’s hallucinating this therapist character who’s trying to help her through this period in her life. She tells him stories about her past, stories about her parents and family, trying to figure out how to incorporate all these stories together and come to terms with the fact that something traumatic happened to her. She’s looking to become a better person and look forward to the future.
p: Are you directing it? What’s your involvement?
G: I wrote the screenplay and I’m directing and producing it!
p: Damn, what’s the preparation been like? It sounds pretty hectic.
G: It’s kind of great, and it’s crazy, because I’ve never produced anything before. I’ve also never directed before, but it’s something I’m becoming more comfortable with. Writing the play has been crazy too, I’ve been changing it around, I just changed the ending a couple weeks ago. It’s a lot coming in from every direction, all at once, but you’ve got to focus on the main goal and try to get it together. This week I actually just picked up the materials for my set, and I got them for free, so that was pretty good.
p: Is it hard to write and re-write as you go? Doesn’t that add more stress to an already busy schedule?
G: Definitely, I didn’t change up too much, but I’m worried about the actors being able to memorize their lines. I had to say “this is the last change” a couple weeks ago, even though there are a few more things I’d still like to change. At this point, I’m only taking out lines, even though I’d really like to add a monologue. I have to control myself [laughs].
p: So is the play your main focus right now? Or are you working another job to boot?
G: Oh my goodness, yes. I’m also working this job as a babysitter: taking care of these kids, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, taking them to school, changing diapers. This morning I was sewing these curtains and I was thinking to myself how domesticated I’ve become. I think of what I was like at Fordham, and where I am now, and I have to laugh. After I’m done with this babysitting thing I don’t think I’m going to take care of children anymore. Kids are terrible to hang out with [laughter].
p: Kids are terrible. How do you keep yourself from going crazy?
G: I don’t think I have kept myself from going crazy! I’m just trying to get it together and make it to the finish line, making sure the play is good and something that I’m proud to put out. The babysitting thing is there for money, but this [play] is definitely my main goal.
p: Your play opens at WOW Cafe, a feminist theater on the Lower East Side. How’d you get the gig?
G: The theater is a collective kind of theater, I joined last year, and it’s for women and for those who identify as transgender. You can come to their meetings every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., and if you come to the meeting you’re instantly part of the collective, you don’t have to pay any dues. As long you work other people’s shows you can put your own show on for free. You just come up with an idea for a show and a plan for sets. I’m really glad I found it.
p: Were you involved with theater when you were at Fordham?
G: No, I started off in Biology and then switched to Anthropology, and I only realized I wanted to write during my last semester. I took a playwriting course and a poetry course, but for the majority of my time at Fordham I wasn’t involved in theater. Now I’m really focusing on my dream I guess.
p: When does your show open, and how can students get tickets?
G: It’s opening October 10th – 12th at 8:30 p.m. and again from October 17- 19 at 8:30 p.m. You can buy tickets online, they’re $12 for students with ID!
p: Totally unrelated question: back when you went to Fordham, you used to drive the Ram Van with me and a whole bunch of other kids. One time at a party you pulled out the biggest joint any of us had ever seen and smoked up the whole party. We still talk about it! How does it feel to be a legend?
G: [laughs] It feels amazing. I didn’t think that people actually remembered it, but I’m really glad. You know, when I had the thought in my mind to roll it, I wanted to do something kinda funny and memorable. I can’t believe people actually remembered it. It feels amazing.
WOW Cafe Theater is located at 59-61 East 4th Street on the Fourth Floor between Bowery and 2nd Avenue (Lower East Side). You can buy tickets at https://www.artful.ly/store/events/1642.