Tell us a little about yourself
I'm a writer and high school teacher in Brooklyn. I've been teaching in the city for the last ten years, working with high school and middle school students. Though I write plays now, I focused on poetry in college and worked in journalism for about five years before I went into teaching, so I enjoy working on lots of different kinds of projects. Writing is a way for me to communicate or explore something that I think is important, so I choose whatever medium I think best fits with the thing I want to communicate.
What brought you to writing this play?
I've always been interested in anomalies and contradictions, and Hephaestus is both of those things. He's an incredibly powerful god who's also got limited mobility due to his disability. This seeming contradiction always drew me to Hephaestus, who I first learned about in a picture book of Greek myths when I was probably seven or eight years old. I also love to root for the underdog, and I think part of why I wanted to write this play is that Hephaestus seems like such an interesting underdog character. He figures into lots of canonical stories, but is never the hero, and despite the fact that he's a god, he's often treated very poorly in these stories. I decided it would be an interesting exercise to make this contradictory underdog character into the hero of his own story, and I think that's the impulse behind the play.
Why greek myths? What do you think is still relevant about them?
I love the wildness of the Greek myths, and I love their immorality. The Greeks aren't bound by our conventions around goodness and evil. Violence and suffering in the myths often seem arbitrary, and heroes aren't necessarily virtuous in any contemporary sense. Finally, I love that the Greeks present us with a world where humans are not at the center. This feels healthy to me-- so much of our drama focuses on banal human struggles that are, in a cosmic sense, totally insignificant. I like the Greeks because they don't feel the need to foreground the human experience. Instead, they create a larger world in which humans are but one part, and in doing so, I think they actually allow us to see human behaviors and motivations more clearly than the much of the human-centric theater that's produced today.
Hephaestus performs March 11-13 at LPAC's Rough Draft Festival. Learn more about our workshop production here.
God of fire, god of the forge, the worker god: Hephaestus. At once a meditation on labor, dis/ability, and beauty, Hephaestus interrogates our relationships to our bodies, and our ideas of beauty and divinity. Drawing on texts ancient and new, Hephaestus explores the limitations of the body and the self, and our desire to transcend them.
By Willie Johnson
March 11-13 @ LPAC's Rough Draft Festival
Learn more and meet our cast here
Join us for a monologue party to raise money for Theater in Asylum's upcoming production of Hephaestus at LPAC's Rough Draft Festival. Hear playwrights and musicians perform short pieces adapting ancient greek myths at one of Brooklyn's most beloved gems: Pete's Candy Store.
Friday, January 31, 2020
@ Pete's Candy Store
709 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
No cover, but we will humbly ask for donations!
FEATURING WORK BY
Jacob Marx Rice
and Hephaestus playwright Willie Johnson
Hosted by Rachel Casparian