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27 Spotlight Right: Interview with Gary Morgenstein

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Interview with Gary Morgenstein

Gary Morgenstein, author of RIGHT ON TARGET

Conservative playwright Gary Morgenstein joins us for an interview about his new play RIGHT ON TARGET and his experiences as a conservative in the New York theater scene.  In addition to being a novelist, Morgenstein's plays include A Tomato Can't Grow in the Bronx, Ponzi Man and Mad Mel and the Marradians.  His online relationship series ACTS of LOVE can be seen at mediablvd.com

Tell us a little bit about Right on Target.

Opening at the Cherry Lane Theatre Saturday, August 11 as part of the New York International Fringe Festival for the first of five performances (August 15, 18, 22 and 24), RIGHT ON TARGET is a bipartisan romantic comedy about an African American conservative, who claims he was fired by PBS for his politics, and his liberal Jewish wife.

Your play draws parallels to the recent controversy of Juan Williams being fired by NPR for his comments on Fox News.  What was it about that situation that you found compelling? 

The firing of Juan Williams by NPR certainly inspired me to write about the intolerance of political views by the left. That was the catalyst, but RIGHT ON TARGET is foremost about a married couple having problems in their relationship, who are attracted and tempted by others, by sex and ambition. 

As a Conservative playwright, how are your views dealt with by other theater artists? And how comfortable do you feel in expressing them?

Why should I hide my beliefs? I wouldn't ask a liberal to conceal theirs. This is a democracy, after all. Now big surprise, but my wonderfully talented cast -- Simcha Borenstein, Jane Dashow, Janet S. Kim, Thomas Lacey and Robert McKay -- with the marvelous director Noemi de la Puente who also acts -- are all liberals. But I think they kinda don't quite believe I'm really conservative. When we had our photo shoot, I was wearing my Reagan for President t-shirt. Janet asked, "Is that supposed to be ironic?" I said, "Uh, no, it's my Reagan t-shirt." Now they call me Ronnie R!

Many conservatives in the arts are former liberals who became disenchanted with the left, was this true for you or have you always held conservative views?

My freshman year in college, I was a radical lefty. I know, I know. Then I started reading and thinking and slowly, I saw the world differently. It's not easy being a Brooklyn Jewish conservative writer. You should see some of the looks I get when I wear my "Miss Me Yet?" George Bush t-shirt. 

What frustrates you most about the contemporary portrayal of conservatives on today’s stages and television shows?

Whether it's theatre, movies or TV, conservatives are invariably portrayed as either religious zealots, redneck bigots or evil capitalists. Even in Aaron Sorkin's series THE NEWSROOM, the Republican is a liberal. In RIGHT ON TARGET, I portray conservatives as thoughtful and intelligent, as I do all points of view. With humor. 

A little off topic, in looking through your bio, I noticed some sports themes in your work, what connections do you see between sports and theater?

They're both live and demand a great deal of the performers. I'm always a little in awe of actors and their dedication. The cast of RIGHT ON TARGET are so hard-working, so gifted, it is a joy to work with them. I think audiences are in for a real treat when they see this gang on stage. And who knows, maybe amid the laughter, the play will make the audience think. For a writer, that's always a grand slam.

Tickets for RIGHT ON TARGET are available here.  Get yours now.

Robert McKay as Benjy Harrison in RIGHT ON TARGET


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