Director Gregory Wolfe posed a few questions to James Bosley, playwright of Epic Poetry, which opens this Wednesday, April 29.
(The words ‘muse’ or ‘archetype’ never came up. Not once.)
GW: Some people, literally, “Brush up their Shakespeare” before seeing one of his plays. Should I dig out my crib-notes on Greek Mythology to ready myself for a play called Epic Poetry?
JB: Hell No! In fact I worry that some mythologist in the house will bust me for having my own way with the original. I wanted to hearken back to those ancient days of yore to give the story a timelessness. My tale, like Grandma in the play, laments the fading of the epic form while encouraging its evolution. So I took the characters, the tropes, some story lines and twisted them to tell something new, while at the same time illuminating the timeless truths that is their coin.
GW: Where did you get the idea to bring ancient Greece and modern New York together? (Maybe the answer might have an alternative name for the play like “Gangs and Gods” – ha ha).
JB: Greg you ignorant slut. Ithaca and Troy are both ancient Greek cities that are prominent in The Odyssey. Ithaca and Troy are also cities in upstate New York. So like Homer, I began my story in Ithaca (NY) and from there it is a bus ride to NYC, my home town. It’s also cool that Astoria in Queens, where the play climaxes, has a huge Greek population, of which I gladly took advantage.
GW: It’s been said that a good writer writes about “what he knows”. How much of the epic journey in Epic Poetry mirrors your real life journey?
JB: More than I care to say. I will say that his mother’s funereal that Otis describes was from my life. I do have a tattoo that says ‘Mom’, as does Otis, which I got not long after that funereal. I also spent time as a pig.
GW: I know UP Theater Company has a mission that is tied to Inwood and the community of people who live up here. How does Epic Poetry tie into that?
JB: The play is about going out to save the world, but remembering to come home afterward. Northern Manhattan is home for me and my family. And the George Washington Bridge is the gateway.