"The Scavenger's Daughter." Read on to learn more about how his real-life soap opera contributed to the development of his successful one-man show.
We Love Soaps: I believe your piece discusses many themes that will appeal to audiences who watch soaps and enjoy learning about family drama.
Colm Magner: The play grows out of the experience of my older brother’s suicide about ten years ago, but we don’t want people to think it’s something that it’s not. It is not an act of therapy or public confession. It is not a depressing play, it is an act of affirming life. There are lots of funny moments in it. Anyone who has been to a funeral knows they can be the most poignantly funny moments in your life. People are in an extremely raw state. They are very open. And sometimes when people are raw and open, very funny things can happen.
Years before my brother took his own life, when my father died, I started to see how people rewrite family history when these things happen. I think it’s natural to do that. We look for reasons or answers for these sad things, and we simplify things. In my brother’s case, people say, “It was just the drugs that led to this death.” Or they say it was something the mother or father did. But things are incredibly complicated. There is never a simple explanation to fully explain why a person does what they do. That is the impetus for why I wrote the play.
The play itself tells a story of an Irish Catholic boy on his way to a small town family funeral. With all the opportunity for hilarious moments and events, that is essentially what I explore. It does deal with issues of being raised in oppressive little towns, what it’s like to be raised Catholic, and it looks at the question of normalcy. Who or what is "normal"? Samuel Beckett said, “We are all born mad, some of us remain so.” My brother chose to remain mad. He was one of those beautiful fragile people who found it hard to be in the world. Some people are more adept at building up armor in themselves than others. I think the play will especially appeal to Irish Catholics. Even the defunct Catholics.
We Love Soaps: As a therapist, I have often said that if people let go of the words “normal,” and “shoulds” that I would be out of a job. And I would be happy to be out of a job for that reason.
Colm Magner: There is tremendous pressure all around us from the moment we pop out of the womb to behave in a "normal fashion." It’s something that creates a lot of trouble and repression. The church has done a lot of damage, and I’m not talking about the abuse scandals, I mean in terms of repression. But you look at little kids before adults start messing with them, they are wild and beautiful creatures.
We Love Soaps: Is the oppression of “normalcy” something that troubled your brother?
Colm Magner: Yes, Brian was a wild man. And then you get into your 30s and one realizes there are compromises. Some people want to make those compromises and others don’t.
We Love Soaps: What is your hope for bringing this story to your audience?
Colm Magner: I just want to tell a good story. I want to do justice to my brother Brian. I am sure there are many people who have the same experience, it’s not that uncommon. But I also want to entertain. I’m an Irish man, I’m a good storyteller. We tell stories in an oddly darkly funny way.
We Love Soaps: Do you ever have trepidation about bringing up these very painfully and personal issues on a New York stage?
Colm Magner: No I don’t. I think people have a misguided idea of what actors do. They have this image of Hollywood and what that’s about. I became an actor because I wanted to be real. Acting is not about pretending, it’s about being honest. I think people gravitate toward good honest stories.
We Love Soaps: Why would soap fans enjoy this show?
Colm Magner: Because it’s a good story and if they come, and the play gets feet, it will be a continuing story. It’s worth coming to see any good story well told.
Press here to learn more about "The Scavenger's Daughter,"vplaying on 79 East 4th Street in Manhattan. Then press a showtime below to get tickets for an upcoming performance.
SAT 8/21 @ 8:30-9:40 - (Come say hi to Damon at this one)
TUE 8/24 @ 4:00-5:10
WED 8/25 @ 10:00-11:10
SAT 8/28 @ NOON-1:10
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."