Javierantonio González, a native of Puerto Rico, is the artistic director of Caborca Theatre and the author of 11 plays and adaptations in both English and Spanish. Two have been published by New York Theatre Experience. He has been a member of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writer’s Group in 2010-11, Van Lier Directing fellow, and was a NYTheatre.com "Person of the Year" in 2010.
Now Javierantonio's lastest play "Open Up, Hadrian" decends on NY from September 13-29. In the years between the fall of the gods and the rise of Jesus, a young man named Hadrian emerged as Rome’s most philosophical emperor, caught in the midst of two bloody wars of expansion. He loved poetry, theatre, and all things Greek. He was also gay. "Open up, Hadrian" imagines the life of this highly successful but deeply frustrated man with elements of Greek drama and dark comedy—his anguished love, lofty ideals, and his big, famous wall.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright/director? Nothing and no one in particular. I started making theatre when I was fifteen, and I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to write and direct plays.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Nicole Kidman.
3. What made you want to write "Open Up, Hadrian"? A couple of years ago I bumped into a statue of Antinous as Osiris at the entrance to the British Museum. It was part of an exhibit titled: Hadrian, Empire and Conflict. I didn’t have to go through all of it before knowing that there was a play there, a play I wanted to write before anyone else did. I scribbled ideas as I walked through the rest of the exhibit, which was full of inconsistencies regarding Hadrian’s character, his marriage, his artfulness and his peace-making. Wherever there are inconsistencies, there is a play. That night I wrote the first draft of acts one and two.
4. What is about this specific period of time that interests you so much? Hadrian loved all things Greek. He was the first Roman emperor who actively attempted to Hellenize Rome. I have always had an affinity, to put it mildly, with the Greeks, much more so than with the Romans. This tension of me looking back to talk about contemporary issues fit nicely with Hadrian’s desire to look back to move forward. In a way, the time of the play exists in the tension between today, Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. A tension that translates into the dialogue of the play.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? The desire to talk about it.
6. What excites you about having "Open Up, Hadrian" play in NY? That I live here and can come see it every night if I want to.
7. What made you want to head up Caborca Theatre? What freedom does having your own theatre company give you that you might not otherwise have? Your second question answers the first. A theatre company, though at times it feels like a ridiculous endeavor, provides a kind of raw, artistic freedom that institutions often fail to. It also provides immediacy, since it’s easy to bring everyone (or almost everyone) into the same room to discuss every aspect of a production – from the text, to the process, marketing, logo, fundraising, etc. It seems maddening just to type it. On the other hand, I can’t think of any theatre in this country that would want to produce a play like Open up, Hadrian – a play with 9 actors in 4 acts about ancient Romans talking about ancient Greeks – but we do. Because a company is also a highly adventurous endeavor.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright/director? A lot, since both deal with the scrutiny of one's self and others.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Move to NY.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? What I like about dreams is precisely that they are uncontrollable and random. If I could decide who I dream about, then what would be the point? I already get to decide who I dream about in my waking life.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Rearranging my room.
12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Coffee for breakfast.
13. Boxers or Briefs? People are still asking that.
14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The ability to undo the past.