A. Rey Pamatmat, Playwright
WHY HE MATTERS:
A. Rey Pamatmat’s plays are as thoughtful and intricate as their titles suggest: after all the terrible things I do and Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, which recently played concurrently at two different theatres in Boston. While he may consider himself to be “a little shy” at times, his work is anything but, and packs an emotional punch. His newest play, House Rules, which premiered Off-Broadway earlier this year, interweaves unique stories of love, family, history and identity. The Filipino American playwright is also the co-director of Ma-Yi Theater’s Writer’s Lab, the New York-based organization dedicated to developing and producing plays by Asian American writers.
Earliest theatre memory:
I grew up on a farm in a really remote part of Michigan, so I didn’t actually see very much theatre, but I did do a lot of community theatre; it was a way to meet people and be social. My first role was playing Eeyore in The House at Pooh Corner—I think there’s a photo on Facebook somewhere. I also remember pageants (I went to a Catholic school.) We had this one pageant where I got to be the comedic lead in a little Christmas play called Substitute Santa.
Something that surprises people about me is:
I have noticed that when people meet me—based on which play of mine they’ve read—they make a lot of assumptions about who I’m going to be. They’re surprised that I’m just…this guy that grew up on a farm and lives in New York now.
An LGBTQ theatrical moment that really impressed me:
I saw both parts of Angels in America three times because it just blew my mind that you could write such a contemporary story and that it could also be mystical, political and so emotional. Also the first time I went to the Wow Café; there was just so much exciting queer work when I was an undergrad.
The next challenge I want to take on is…
I’m writing this gigantic, epic three-play cycle. I wrote a play when I was in grad school—that I never thought I would revisit again—about a guy who meets someone on the internet. It was in the year 2000 when AIDS and HIV were still largely feared and gay politics were really different. Now with gay marriage happening, it’s like the movement has done a 180. Whereas it used to be about everyone being different, it seems to be pushing more towards being the same. I get what that means but at the same time, people aren’t the same, and it’s something about the gay rights movement that’s been bothering me. So I’m taking that play that I wrote so long ago and using it as the first part in a three-part cycle that traces this one man’s personal relationships against the backdrop of the changing perceptions of gay people.
I hope my legacy as an artist will be…
I hope that if I have a legacy it’s that it empowers people—whoever they are and whatever strange background they have—to be able to express themselves and share their stories.