Talking with Matthew Paul Olmos about Theatre’s Power to Change and His New Trilogy of Plays

Undermain kicks off its 33rd Season next week as we begin rehearsals for Matthew Paul Olmos’s so go the ghosts of méxico, part one. Before arriving in Dallas for rehearsals, Matthew chatted with Undermain Marketing Manager Theresa Webster about the play, the trilogy as a whole, and its production in Dallas.Hi res 4

TW: “What are your feelings on having the play produced in Texas, so close to the border town where it takes place?” 

MPO: What makes this production of so go the ghosts of méxico, part one so unique and close to heart is that audiences in Dallas will have a different relationship to the subject matter than say those in New York. While I intend this as a human story about hope and the courage it takes to create true change in any society, it is also speaking directly about a catastrophic situation taking place just next door to our country; a situation that involves our country deeply. For those of us who live, or have lived, in a border state, the relationship between the United States and Mexico is not abstract or a political idea, it is something we witness up close and personal; in the faces we pass in our day to day, in the language we hear spoken, in the children we see growing up around us. And so Dallas is an ideal community for a conversation about how different we’re not, and how parents wanting a better world for their children knows no borders.

What are your hopes with this trilogy”  

While so go the ghosts of méxico began as a single play about the U.S./Mexico drug wars, it wasn’t long before the research overwhelmed me; the topic was just too vast and complex, so I began to break down what I wanted to explore. I knew I wanted to write about the cartels themselves (part two), the U.S. involvement (part three), but I didn’t know where to start. Until I stumbled upon an article referring to The Bravest Woman In Mexico, which told the story of 20-year old Marisol Valles Garcia, a criminology student who had apparently taken over as police chief in a town where the previous chief had been beheaded by a drug cartel. I was taken by Marisol’s story and how, despite the media coverage, she was simply trying to create a better world for her son. And so I had my way in to the trilogy; a story about when the political becomes personal.

“How do you think the intimate space of Undermain Theatre will lend itself to your play?” 

What I love about theater is the beauty of accidents; knowing what is happening in the theater on that particular evening will never happen again, it is a completely unique occurrence. And really the only places to truly live witness to that are in spaces where the audience can feel the intensity of emotion on an actor’s face or in their movements, hear the performers rhythm of words directly and not through microphone or a sound system. And perhaps the most important, sharing the break of laughter with those around you in the audience. And so for this play in particular, which at times is deathly serious, but often very comedic, I think Undermain is an ideal theater for an audience to experience it.

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