BEHIND THE SCENES: Meet Paul Pasulka
Paul Pasulka is a network playwright at Chicago Dramatists and a psychologist in private practice and on faculty at Northwestern University Medical School (paulpasulka.com). His plays have been read or produced throughout Chicago. Gruoch, or Lady Macbeth recently received a reading in the New Works Festival at Three Cat Productions. When the Wheels Come Off will be performed at the Brookfield New Play Festival in November; directed by Three Cat’s Jason Smith. Several of Paul’s plays were selected for staged readings of scenes at The Chicago Dramatists and Adventure Stage Chicago. He frequently writes in a style of magical realism (Biblical Job as an Iraqi-American contractor in Abu Ghraib Prison; PT Barnum and Saul Alinsky at the gates of heaven; The Snow Queen, a play for adults, in a modern setting). He also writes plays for children (Aesop’s Fable; Sarah’s Story).
Paul was also honored to play the role of Dak in Hang Your Hat at Mr. Kelly’s at Three Cat Productions.
He also writes and performs solo pieces, performed as part of the GenNarrations Project with the Goodman Theatre of Chicago and at Three Cat Productions. He will perform Sonuvagun by invitation at the International Storytelling Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in October.
Creating Home for Christmas
When Jason Smith approached the writers of Holiday Stories with the request to depict characters who have been, for various reasons, abandoned by the holidays, it brought to my mind the theme of ‘outsiders’. For my generation there was no greater icon of outsider than James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. I also grew up at a time when being gay, or ‘homosexual’ was a psychiatric disorder or disease. I watched as my friends struggled with confusion or self-loathing or fear or unaccepting families or tormenting bullies – generally some admixture of all of these; and as society as a whole struggled with the twisted morality that encouraged families to abandon their children and friends to scorn their friends.
For me, Home for Christmas, my contribution to Holiday Stories is a coming of age and acceptance story; but it is also only the beginning of the story. Roger and Daniel will eventually leave ‘Beastly’ Bay Military Academy – probably sooner than later – to begin their search for a community of kindred spirits, or ‘friends’, as they come to refer to each other. Their stories of ‘coming out’ to families in ‘Keofuck’ and Scarsdale will be dramatic, no doubt. Roger’s journey may well take him to Stonewall. Both will be devastated by the AIDS epidemic. While I don’t have a clear vision of their paths, I suspect that late in life they will once again find each other and their journeys will end as they began, with a kiss.
Working on Holiday Stories, under Jason’s direction and with the superb cast and crew and talented playwrights has be as joyful as experiencing Christmas mornings after Christmas mornings. The unique and varied stories unfold, petal by petal, flower within a flower. This approach is not only tantalizing, but ultimately fulfilling as discovering surprises within surprises. The collection of plays also gives us the opportunity of appreciating many voices, many perspectives, and the breadth of the talents of each of the actors. The minimalist set brings us right to the heart of the human quest, seeking the embrace of the Christmas spirit that lives in us all.
(Previews are December 4 & 5. The regular run is December 6 – January 3. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Saturday matinees at 4:00pm at the Berger Park Coach House Theater at 6205 N. Sheridan in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. Doors open 30 minutes prior to curtain. Learn more here.)